As a dietetics student you have to choose one of two paths: coordinated program (CP) or didactic program (DPD). This choice determines how you complete your required 1200 hour internship. There will be more on this choice later, but this post is for all of you who have made the decision to go the DPD route and take on DICAS. This post is not advice on how to increase your chances of getting an internship but to prepare you for the application itself.
1 . S T A R T E A R L Y
I started the DICAS process just after it opened and although I wouldn't recommend stressing about it too much before the portal opens I would definitely have it on your mind as you start the semester before matching. Some things you can do before the portal opens are: perfecting your resume, writing personal statements, and deciding what internships to apply to.
When working on your resume I would recommend having a career center look over it. Remember, it needs to highlight your skills and how they relate to dietetics, so choose your words carefully and keep anything that shows leadership and initiative. Then pick some internships that you might want to apply to, you don't have to be set on them but the more prepared you are the better. Read through the application process they have on their site, this would also be a good time to see if they have a masters program if that's the route you want to take. When reading, look for the questions they want you to address in your personal statement and look and see if there are any supplemental materials required. Pay close attention to the dates, some internships have earlier deadlines than DICAS, and look for recieved by and post marked by dates. Make a list for each internship of what you need and what you should address in a personal statement. If you begin this process now, when DICAS opens you can complete a majority of the application without any effort. For me, the personal statements were the hard part. If you already know what you need to address for each internship then write a personal statement that can be used for as many internships as possible, then make copies and tailor each to the prospective internship. When it is all said and done, find some friends, take it to the library, or have a professor proof read. Have it proof read every time you make changes and use a few different readers. Don't go overboard here, if it gets to the point where they are pointing out small things that are their personal preference, call it good, and upload. Remember personal statements are limited to 1,000 words.
2 . P R I O R I T I Z E
When the portal opens the first two things you should do are submit your transcripts and send out requests for letters of recommendation. Why do these things first? From personal experience I waited until two-weeks out to send my transcripts and was still waiting for the last one to be received two days before the final submission date. Give your self some peace of mind later by sending your transcripts early. It also gives you time to re-send them if they get lost in the mail. You should also send your letter of rec requests first so your references have time to write and submit quality recommendations. Don't hesitate to send reminders as the submission date nears. Just a side note on sending transcripts: you can send electronic copies, click the instructions button under the transcripts tab on the sidebar and it will explain. This is something I found out after the fact. From here you can upload those personal statements your did early and your beautiful resume, fill out the activities sections, register with DND Digital, and finish the application with some house keeping.
3 . D N D D I G I T A L
After the portal opens you will want to register with DND Digital, the matching sight for DICAS. On DND you will want to choose all of the internships you are interested in this way they show up on DICAS and you can connect your personal statement with the corresponding internship. Don't worry, you can always go back and remove internships from both DND and DICAS easily. If there is a program you are no longer interested make sure you remove it from DICAS because they charge twenty dollars per application submitted. However, there is more time to change and reorder your choices on DND.
4 . R E L A X
Throughout our coursework we are programmed to strive for perfection. Every once in a while step back and take a deep breath. You have been working for perfection for so long it's like a second nature now, there's no need to constantly stress about it. Especially after you submit DICAS, there's nothing you can do but wait so focus on learning the rest of Clinical 2 and relaxing because it's out of your hands now.
I hope this guide to surviving DICAS helps you through the application and leaves you a little more prepare than I was.