Dietetic Career Spotlight: Carlene Thomas, RD
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on JANUARY 16, 2013
A newly acquired Registered Dietitian, Carlene Thomas, went directly to the social media and consultant route right after her internship. Read on to learn about the not-so-traditional recent RD graduate and how she bypassed the typical clinical arena to excel in reaching RDs all over the country through her social media skills. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I grew up in a house where there was no dieting. Food was a way to show love. My grandparents were diplomats who lived mostly in Asia, so my Dad was exposed to lots of dinner parties and foreign food growing up. As a result, I received exotic fruit in college care packages and knew how to put on a pretty good spread for a party. To this day, Grandma is also a personal trainer and physical therapist so I was fascinated by medicine growing up.
It seems like that non-dieting, yet also non-clinical relationship with food is such an anomaly these days, so I wanted to share that ease of mind around food and way of wellness with others. Also, being a nurse or doctor was totally out of the question since the way I deal with blood is by passing out.
Your Job Title?
Wedding Wellness Online Nutrition Coach
Nutrition Communication Consultant
Company you are with now?
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
Every day is different. Here’s one of my recent days:
6:45 AM: Check my planner and make my to do list. I’ll scan my social media sites and email.
7:15 AM-1:00: Drive to a meeting for a potential project with a food company looking for nutrition social media marketing.
1:30 PM: I have a call with one of my social media clients. We talk about her social media accounts and then discuss another side project together.
3:00: From my ‘office’ (anywhere my ipad is): Check my social media clients’ accounts to see how everything is going, work on projects for the clients including publishing blogs, tweets and marketing their latest interviews on media. I’ll also work on contract projects with a variety of companies and organizations whether it is with my state association, or as a paid contract.
4:30 Break: Walk the dog.
6:00: Work on my personal social media: I’ll tweet, use Pinterest, comment on blogs and then write and schedule a blog. If it’s recipe based I do some food styling for the photos. Then I eat the product.
6:30: Follow up appointment with a virtual nutrition client. Today we chat on the phone although we also video chat.
8:00: Meet with my designer (husband) and my website coder to talk about the website redesign
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I’m a go-getter who thrives on project diversity. I am always seeking additional opportunities, challenges and partnerships. That paired with how much I love to connect with people tends to produce project ideas!
My work as a nutrition communication consultant stems from when I applied to be a nutrition blogger on nationally based website in college. From there, I connected with other websites and blogged for them, eventually starting my own. Throughout college I was very active on social media and one day, my first client found me. Someone recommended me based on what I had been doing in the online world. After that clients have found me through word of mouth. They are usually looking for someone who can help them translate their expertise as dietitians to the online world. Because I keep in touch with some wonderful professionals, I also get lots of calls for consulting on projects with social media and technology.
As for my work with my nutrition coaching clients, I got married last year and was floored by the crash diets I was hearing about. I wanted to be able to use technology like email, text, blogs and video chats to reduce the barrier to sustainable and healthy habits for women. Brides are busy and they love the time they have at home. By using a virtual office, we can work together from anywhere at anytime.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
-I’m very driven and always have a project going on!
-Efficient. I’m always early, never late.
-I love to write and talk with people.
-Organizing and planning: I used to be pretty relaxed about this, but once you hit college or your dietetic internship, you realize you need to access things quickly and be on your game.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
-Reach out and ask for opportunities: I love Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group (NEDPG) and they have been the best resource for me. I wanted to help give back to an organization that has done so much for ‘non-traditional’ dietitian careers so I answered an email requesting volunteers. As a student/intern I worked on their Twitter account and also wrote for their Ventures newsletter.
-Research: Rent business books, read technology blogs and marketing blogs. Many internships and colleges don’t teach you how to be an entrepreneur as a dietitian.
-Get involved outside of your bubble: Social media is one of the best ways to do this! NEDPG brings like-minded dietitians together from across the country. Don’t get discouraged because dietitians in your town or state don’t ‘get’ what you do.
-People will tell you that you have to do clinical. You don’t. Set goals to get where you want to be and volunteer or make connections within your interests.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
26 hours in a day. And fresh figs.