When Katlynn Ferreira landed a nutrition-related internship at a hospital in Massachusetts, she was excited. It fit her plan for pursuing a career in health and wellness perfectly.
Here’s what she does as an intern:
- Teach people about nutrition and food choices and the link to chronic disease.
- Work with a team of healthcare providers.
- Learn more about patient education, nutrition plans, and counseling and working with patients to make a difference.
An internship at a gym, hospital, wellness company, or private practice is an ideal way to begin pursuing a career in health and wellness. Let’s dig into the many benefits of an internship experience and tips for landing an internship in the health and wellness industry.
Importance of Completing an Internship
Gain Real-World Experience
It’s sometimes the biggest hurdle to overcome when you’re trying to land a job. An internship gives you hands-on training to learn more about things like developing a customized meal plan for a client, hosting a presentation on a wellness topic, and interacting with others.
Make Connections with Health and Wellness Professionals
You can learn a lot from these people about the day-to-day of a career in health and wellness, and you might even discover an opportunity or job title you didn’t know existed. An internship also gives you a chance to grow your network, which can help you with the next step.
Discover Job Opportunities
When you’re ready to land a full-time job, or launch your own health and wellness business, your network can help you—most of the time, it’s just a matter of putting yourself out there and asking. Your network can be an invaluable resource for finding a job or connecting you with clients who need your help.
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5 Tips for Landing a Health and Wellness Internship
Wondering how to land a health and wellness internship? It’s not rocket science, but you will have to do some legwork to find an internship that matches your career goals.
It’s kind of like searching for a job. There’s more than one way to do it. But some approaches are better than others. The following five steps will help streamline your search to find internship opportunities, make connections with professionals in health and wellness, and set up a plan to gain experience to pursue your career.
1. Search for internship opportunities online
In the digital world, going online is the most obvious way to learn about internship opportunities.
Just do a search for “nutrition internship” or “wellness internship” and check the results. You can also check for internship opportunities on sites like:
Industry associations and membership sites can also be a good starting place to find an internship. Check for internship leads and resources with places like:
If you want to pursue an internship with a specific company, check its website to find out if it has an internship program and follow its application guidelines. That’s how Katlynn landed a nutrition internship with Sodexo.
2. Reach out to health and wellness experts
Here’s another way to land an internship. Find a business or organization that looks like a good fit for your internship. Then find out who the right health and wellness expert is to contact there.
Get that info, and you can reach out in a number of different ways: Keep it short and to the point. Here’s an email example:
Subject: Health and wellness internship opportunities?
How are you?
I found you on [LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.] and enjoyed learning more about your work in health and wellness.
I’m just about done with a [fitness, nutrition, wellness] certification program and want to learn more about what it’s like to be a [health coach, nutrition consultant, etc.].
Can I take you to coffee or lunch or set up a time to shadow you for a day?
In good health,
3. Making connections via social media
Sending an email isn’t the only way to connect with professionals, the HR manager, or an industry expert to land an internship. Social media works too. You just need to follow basic etiquette for the platform you’re using. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- LinkedIn. An estimated 433 million business professionals are on LinkedIn. It’s a great tool to find contacts and learn about internship opportunities. Connect with new contacts or use the InMail feature to send a message and introduce yourself.
- Twitter. One hundred forty characters or fewer—that’s what Twitter messaging is known for. But it’s not just for celebrities and politicians or for posting memes. You can use Twitter to check out companies you want to intern with. Look up the Twitter profile for a contact and reach out with a short message to find out about internship opportunities.
- Instagram. This social media platform is based on sharing images. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to land an internship. Lots of companies are on Instagram. Check out these tips to use Instagram to find an internship.
- Facebook. Many companies use Facebook for marketing and recruiting. Use it to learn more and connect with companies you want to intern for. Then use the Messenger feature to connect with decision-makers at those companies.
A big part of landing an internship is taking the step to reach out. It’s a great way to make a connection, start a conversation with an expert who can help you, and learn more about potential internship opportunities. If you’ve already spent some time growing your network, start your search there. Reach out and ask if your contacts can help you find an internship.
4. Propose a simple plan
Some organizations routinely hire health and wellness interns and have an established internship program—that’s one way to go.
But if you want to complete an internship for an organization that doesn’t routinely work with interns, then what? You still can, but you’ll probably need to propose a simple plan. For example:
Dates for internship. Set a time frame for how long you’ll be an intern. Three to six months, for example.
Propose a schedule. Nail down a schedule that works for you and your internship organization. Propose a schedule and how many hours a week you’ll work.
Set expectations. Work out a plan that describes your internship experience, duties, goals, and expectations that you and your internship organization can agree on.
What will you be doing? For example:
- Developing meal plans for clients
- Organizing health and wellness presentations
- Supporting a corporate wellness program
- Hosting cooking classes
- Teaching on-site yoga, stretching, or fitness classes
- Taking clients on healthy-shopping grocery-store tours
You should get some on-the-job experience (as a nutrition consultant, personal trainer, health coach, wellness coordinator, etc.) from your health and wellness internship and be an asset to the organization at the same time.
Let’s say you complete a bunch of internship applications, send out some emails, and have some conversations about potential internship opportunities. But you haven’t heard back from those people. Now what?
Follow up. People are busy. Large organizations might have a dedicated internship coordinator. But smaller organizations typically don’t. Send a follow-up email, direct-message via Twitter, or leave a voicemail. A lot of times, that little bit of initiative will be just the thing to get things going.
Best of luck applying these tips to landing an internship that starts you off on the right track to a successful career in health and wellness!
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