Over July 1-4 I had the opportunity to attend my first dietetic conference. I thought it would be fun to share a few things I took away from the Florida Dietetic Association’s 77th Annual Symposium, in case there are any other newbies like me out there.
1. Talk to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. Students and professors from your school, other schools, volunteers, vendors/ exhibitors, speakers, people in line or sitting around you, EVERYONE. I met so many fantastic people and I truly felt that the single reason I took more away from the conference than I thought I would is because of the fantastic conversations I had.
On a similar note, don’t discount anyone. One exhibitor had a booth to share about a supplement she had developed. Initially I thought I wouldn’t be interested – after all, I’m still a student and don’t prescribe/ have use for any supplements like that. Turned out, I did! A high calorie and high protein supplement like the one she developed could be ideal for someone like my grandmother, who’s dropped down to 88.6 lbs.
2. Network. If you’re still a student, put yourself out there and see what opportunities networking may bring you. I now have several opportunities on my horizon that I am so excited about pursuing!
3. Volunteer! I am so grateful I had the opportunity to volunteer during the Symposium. In return for several hours of volunteering, my registration feed was waived. This is another great idea for students who may be on a tight budget and looking to make new connections. I spent most of my time volunteering in the Silent Auction, and had a great time getting to know the coordinator and a fellow volunteer.
4. Eat up. I have to tell ya – if anyone is under the impression that dietitians eat like birds/ barely eat, they need to go to a dietetic conference! Great snacks (i.e. almonds, Chobani, Food Should Taste Good crackers, hummus, watermelon, etc.) that people quickly grabbed up! Plus – where else can you go to a conference and get a sample of fresh produce from an exhibitor? Loved it!
I’m so grateful I had the chance to attend this conference. I didn’t make it to a ton of sessions, but I was really inspired by the ones I did go to, particularly the Social Media one led by Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD. I’m (obviously) inspired again!