Traditional Route Dietetic Internship Handbook 2017-2018

Introduction to the Handbook

This handbook was developed for University of Manitoba students who may want to apply to a dietetic internship program in Canada via the Dietitians of Canada post degree route or “traditional route”. It will answer some of the questions you may have if you are considering, or are in the process of applying.

Please note that the information in this handbook may change without notification.

Remember that the process may change from one year to the next. The tips included in this handbook should be used as guidelines. Good luck with the application process!

1.How do I learn about the different Dietitians of Canada post degree internship programs
offered in Canada?

You can find this information from Dietitians of Canada (DC) ( and links to individual program websites. You may wish to become a Dietitians of Canada Student Member which allows you access to a Student Network where students and interns post articles, share experiences and network with other dietitians.

Copies of all internship brochures as well as the DC application package are also kept in a binder in the Nutrition Education and Community Outreach (Room 416 Human Ecology Building). These brochures are revised each fall. The binder can be signed out at any time for a 2-hour period (or overnight after 4:00 pm). (Note that ANY student in ANY year of study may sign out and read the information in the binder.)

In November, an information session on campus will be scheduled to discuss the internship application process. The time and location will be posted to all students by email, class announcements and posters in the Human Ecology Building.

2. Are all dietetic internships the same?

Not all dietetic programs are the same. Some internship programs are quite specialized and are at organizations known for a specific area (e.g., paediatrics at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto). Most programs are general and give an equal balance of clinical, food service management and community experiences. Often programs incorporate time for electives where you can put more emphasis on an area of particular interest.

3. When does internship start? How long is it? Is it full time?

Internship programs start at different times, usually ranging from September to October.  The internships range anywhere from 35 to 40 weeks.

The internship is similar to a full-time job, in which you must be willing to work at least 40 hours every week. You will also be responsible for presentations, studying for various rotations, and working on projects.

4. Do I get paid as an intern?

Typically you do not get paid as a dietetic intern.

5. Are there fees associated with an internship program?

Many programs require you to pay a program fee once you are accepted and some also require an application fee.  Please check the specific programs for this information. Most programs require that you become a student member of Dietitians of Canada and buy professional liability insurance. Many programs require a criminal records check, child abuse registry check, updated immunization records, health and accident insurance, and in most cases you will have to carry transportation and accommodation costs. In many ways the internship can be considered another year of full-time, intensive study.

6. Do I need to start paying back my student loans?

In many instances, you will be required to start paying back your student loan during this year. Special arrangements to postpone repayment for another year can sometimes be made with your banking institution. As an intern you may apply for Interest Relief. You must contact the National Student Loan Centre at 1-800-8154514 to request an application for interest relief. An advisor for the National Student Loan centre will conduct a pre-screening to determine if you qualify for interest relief and advise you of the process.

7. How do I apply for dietetic internships?

Dietitians of Canada Program Match Applications, as well as a summary of the programs offering traditional route positions, is available from the Dietitians of Canada website ( This package and the listing of available internship programs in Canada is updated every year. All documents are submitted online and application fees must be received by selected programs by January 19, 2018 (NOON Eastern Time).

8. How many programs can I apply to?

You may apply up to three programs.

9. Are there any forms in the package that must be submitted to the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences?

The Confirmation of Completion of Academic Program form must be submitted for confirmation that you have met or will meet Dietitians of Canada’s academic requirements by the end of the academic year. Complete four copies of this form, in case you later apply for a second round placement. Fill in your name, the degree(s) you completed or will be completing, the name of the university/are at which you completed or are completing your degree(s), and the date(s) of your graduation. These forms must be submitted, along with a “Permission to Access a Student’s File” and submit to the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Academic Advisor's Office (Room 160 Agriculture Building); attention Taylor Friesen BEFORE DECEMBER 8, 2017 . Before the forms are signed, the Academic Advisor’s Office will ensure that all requirements are or will be met. These forms will then be signed by the Director of the University Dietetics Program and returned to you by the first week of January.

10. When do I apply?

January 19, 2018 (noon Eastern Time) is the due date for applications to dietetic internship programs. Remember that it takes time to update resumes, write personal letters (and essays, if required) and to have the confidential references completed.  Give yourself plenty of time to get your application package together. Many students begin to work on their application in November or earlier.

The following timelines should be considered when applying:

Early to Mid-October, 2017

Dietitians of Canada releases application packages. All documents required are uploaded onto an online system.


Early November, 2017

Information session held by the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences.


November 15, 2017  - January 19, 2018 (noon Eastern Time)

Register for the Match Process on DC website.

By December 8, 2017

Submit 4 copies of the completed Confirmation of Completion of Academic Program form found in the application package to the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Academic Advisor's Office (Room 160 Agriculture Building); attention Taylor Friesen


Attach a copy of a “Permission to Access a Student’s File”

Early January, 2018

Once the fall terms are in the system, order your transcripts from the Registrar’s Office

January 8, 2018

Pick up signed Confirmation of Completion of Academic Program forms from the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Academic Advisor's Office (Room 160 Agriculture Building) or you can request the forms be returned to you via email as a pdf.

January 19, 2018 (noon Eastern Time)

Deadline for DC Match Process registration and applications uploaded in DC Match System.

March 14, 2018 until the completion of the 2018 program match selection process

Students contacted regarding the outcome of the selection process.


11. How does the internship selection process work?

Dietitians of Canada (DC) manages a customized computer program which matches the selections of the applicants with that of the Programs.  DC plays no role in selecting applicants for any Programs.  DC is the data collection hub and provides only the communications interface between applicants and Programs.

12. What qualities are the internship programs looking for?

Internship programs are looking for individuals with leadership abilities, able to work in a team environment, good oral and written communication skills, problem-solving skills, and self-confidence. They want people who have a solid basic understanding of the sciences, physiological function of the body, characteristics of food, and who are able to apply their knowledge to different situations. The individual internship programs may look for specific qualities and they may ask for evidence of these qualities or skills in the personal letter. Read the program brochures carefully to determine what qualities are important to highlight in your letter.

13. Where, when and how should I begin to prepare for an internship?

You can start preparing for your internship as early as your first year by compiling a skills profile. This involves taking a job (work or volunteer) that will assist you in developing identified skills. The Student Counselling and Career Centre at the University of Manitoba can provide advice to help you build an excellent skills profile. The following can serve as examples of ways that you can gain important skills to prepare you for a future as a dietitian. You can:

Develop management potential:
Work as a supervisor, coordinator or instructor, volunteer as a team-leader, project manager or committee chair.

Develop food-related skills:
Prepare food (kitchen worker, dietary aide, camp cook, soup kitchen, home care worker); Serve or distribute food (cafeteria worker, restaurant server, food bank volunteer, Meals on Wheels volunteer); Teach food preparation (cooking classes, community kitchens, product demonstration).

Develop written and oral communication skills:
Advise, counsel, inform (peer counsellor, mentor, tutor, staff help lines); Promote services and products (information booths, displays); Develop educational resources (pamphlets, manuals, videos,); Give presentations as a volunteer speaker; Write articles for newsletters, community papers, etc.

Develop interpersonal skills:
Work as part of a workplace team, volunteer group, student committee; Provide service to customers, clients or residents; Work as a tour guide; Orient new students to university.

Develop an ability to be self-directed:
Seek out volunteer opportunities; Take advantage of learning opportunities that are available; Balance school, work, and volunteer activities effectively.

Take part in volunteer activities:
Examples include: Osteoporosis Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Women’s Health Clinic, Nutrition Education and Community Outreach (NECO), Dieticians of Canada Junior and/or Senior representatives, Healthy Start for Mom and Me, Canadian Diabetes Association, Student’s Organizations (Faculty of Agriculture Students Organization (FASO), University of Manitoba Food-bank, University of Manitoba Peer Advisors, Hospitals, Winnipeg Harvest, Personal Care Homes, CanU.

14. Who should I ask to be a reference?

  • Your referees should know you well enough to judge your performance in most, if not all, of the areas specified.
  • One referee must be an academic reference and must be on the Academic Reference Form. 
  • The two other references should be from people who know you in a professional, student or business capacity.  References can include a previous or current employer or a supervisor of a volunteer work experience.
  • In cases where you have worked with several people in one setting (eg. a workplace or a university program), several people may collaborate to complete the form, but only one individual in that group may submit the form and be the referee of record.
  • A reference from a family member is not permitted.
  • You MUST ask referees for permission to act in this capacity.  Do this before you enter their name into the online system.
  • Be respectful of your referee's time - give ample notice if you are asking for a reference.

Enter the names and email addresses of those whom you wish to invite to provide a reference into the Match System.  They will be notified by email and will be provided with instructions and a link to a form they need to complete and upload.  Because this is an auto-generated email, ask that your referees either check their spam folder or edit their email software options to add "" to their Safe Senders list to ensure the email invitation shows up in their inbox.

15. What grades do I need to apply?

Most programs have an academic performance requirement of a GPA of >3.0 over the last 2 years (last 60 credit hours). Some, however, require a higher GPA and some use a cumulative GPA. An average grade of 75% is considered good, and anything above that is great. A few people who have averages between 70-75% get internships, but these people have strong work experiences and exceptional communication skills. Check the information provided by the program on the minimum GPA to apply.

16. Do I need a high GPA to obtain an internship position?

Not all internship programs put the same emphasis on grades. Most internship selection committees look at the balance of experience, academics and how you come across in your application package and/or interview. If you are concerned about your grades, talk to or e-mail the internship co-ordinator to see how much emphasis they put on GPA.
For example, one program awards the following weights to the different attributes (maximum 100): Academic rating: 20; Resume: 30; Letter: 10; Confidential Reports: 20; Interpersonal Skills Report: 20.

17. How can I improve the quality of my application?

Read and follow instructions very carefully.
Refer to the DC Application Package for tips.

Read the brochures of the specific programs for the following:
- Do they tell you what qualities they are looking for? In your letter you must highlight how you developed these qualities.
- What format do they want for the personal letter? ( 1 or 2 pages, single spaced or double spaced, etc.)
- Do they want something extra, like a skills report or essay?
- If you decide that you do not meet the criteria the internship director is looking for (e.g., a type of experience or a mark in a specific course) contact the director to ask about it – it may not always be an exclusion criteria.

Cover Letter:
- The point of letters is to highlight or explain your experiences and why you think you would fit into their program.
- Follow the instructions
- Highlight your strengths in your letter.  Describe your skills if not technically nutrition-related.
- Why are you choosing to apply to this program?
- Discuss your short- and long-term goals.
- Have someone read your resume and personal letters to catch any spelling mistakes that the spell checker missed, and sentences that do not read well.
- Make sure you sign your personal letter.
- Include the name of the internship director and program.

Confidential References:
- Make sure your references know you well and can speak positively about your accomplishments. Take the time to let them know what you have done that they might not have actually witnessed (e.g. make an appointment). Provide them with a copy of your transcript, resumé and the reason you are asking them for a reference (e.g. repeated positive feedback).
- Try and get a variety of people to be references (who talk about different things that you have done).
- Give your references enough time to fill out the forms online (at least 2-3 weeks notice, if not longer).
- Getting to know your professors is another good idea. Try to ask questions in class or during office hours so that you stand out more to them, and they can learn more about your personality.

Other Resources:
- Ask Student Counselling and Career Centre to help you. You can attend workshops on resume writing to improve your skills in resume writing, obtain a letter critique, and have a mock interview.
- Check out the “Tips for Your Application” included in the Dietitians of Canada Program Match Application.

18. Do internship programs have interviews?

Many internship programs have an interview process while others do not. When applying to a program, check to see if they conduct interviews.

19. When are the interviews?

Internship programs have interviews with selected applicants in person or by phone after they have reviewed your application package. If your package meets their criteria, they may contact you to ask you to do an interview – usually in February. Interviews may be held during Reading Week – so plan your vacation wisely.

20. What questions may be asked during the interview process?

Appendix A includes a list of questions that previous students have been asked at interviews.

21. How can I improve my success with the interview?

- Consult Student Counselling and Career Centre on campus as they have numerous resources on preparing for interviews.
- Try in advance to find out who is on the interview panel, and what type of interview to expect.
- Try to go through a mock interview. It is a good way to find out about your own distracting habits (and work on that…)
- Do research about the internship program.
- Think about some good questions to ask about the placement before you get there. It shows that you have given the internship some serious thought. You can ask about application numbers, where previous interns found employment, how quickly they were employed, types of research projects, etc.
- Feel free to make a closing comment – something you feel they should know about you.
- Arrive at the interview site well in advance.
- Bring a book to read during the wait.
- Smile
- Be confident. The fact that they invited you for an interview shows that they liked your application.
- If you have more that one interviewer make sure that you connect with each one.
- If you are having a phone interview, don’t just wear casual clothes. Wear something that makes you feel at least a bit professional – but comfortable as well.
- Relax and be yourself. Many internship coordinators realize that you are nervous and may ask you a few ”small talk” questions about weaknesses that you have and how to deal with them.
- Act like a professional.
- Shake the interviewers’ hands when you meet them – even if they do not initiate the handshake. Shake hands at the end of the interview as well (if you feel comfortable doing so).
- Send a thank-you note (if you feel comfortable doing so).

22. What if I do not get an internship position?

Remember that each year, across Canada, about half of the students who apply for internship are successful. If you are not accepted in the first-round and a second round is offered you can apply again during the second round. There is no additional charge to do this. You can also get some relevant work experience and try again the next year. Many graduates find the year of experience between graduation and internship to be particularly useful for career planning, experience building and saving money.

23. How do I apply for second round?

You will be notified by Dietitians of Canada of any internship programs that have positions still available after the first-round as well as the process by which to apply.

24. How many times can I apply?
You may apply up to three years after you have graduated. After three years you must apply to an accredited university program for a review of your transcripts and recommended course updating (usually one three credit hour course for every three years since graduation) before you can apply for an internship program again.

Appendix A - Questions asked of Previous Students at Internship Interviews:

Tell us about yourself ( often the first question).
If you had to choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
What were some of the challenges of your last position? What did you do about them?
What skills did you learn from the situation that will help you in your internship?
Give at least one example where you have received constructive criticism. How did you react to this and what did you do?
With the role of dietitians changing in the future, what step would you take to ensure that you are up to date with the current knowledge available?
Think back to your very first job. What lesson have you carried forward from that position?
What is one thing you are passionate about?
What valuable skills do you have and how will you contribute to our internship program?
Where do you see the field of dietetics in 5 years?
Tell me about your experiences as part of a team?
What would your friends/colleagues say about you?
Where do you see yourself five years from now? (i.e., career goals)
What do you think some of the challenges are in food service?
How do you think your values and beliefs will affect you as a dietitian?
What values and beliefs are you bringing to the profession and how will they affect your work?
What was your worst communication experience and how did you deal with it?
What are some reasons why you chose this particular internship?
What do you perceive is the role of a dietitian?
Why do you think you would be a good dietitian?
What are the future roles of dietitians?
What are some examples of academic or work experiences that enabled you to develop leadership skills?
How do you perceive your role within a group or team setting?
Provide an example of your involvement in group work from one of your courses. What did you learn from this experience? What did you find to be challenging?
What influenced your decision to apply for the dietetic internship program?
Who would you consider to be a role model in your life and why?
Explain a research topic that you worked on in one of your nutrition courses, and how would you apply what you learned to professional practice?
What are some things you would include in a nutrition care plan if you were counselling an outpatient with hypercholesterolemia? (General patient oriented issues apply in addition to foods, so think about patient-dietitian interactions.)
How would you assess an elderly woman with glaucoma who is in hospital for surgery, and is suspected by the nursing staff to be at risk for malnutrition?
How would you deal with a patient who is unwilling to listen to you and refuses to accept a modified diet plan?
How would you provide nutrition support to a cancer patient who is undergoing chemotherapy and unable to eat?
What do you consider to be your strengths and your weaknesses?
How do you manage your busy schedule with other activities and your private life?
How do you handle stressful times? Provide an example of a time that was particularly stressful, and how you handled it.
What are your long-term professional goals?
How will this dietetic internship enable you to meet your goals?
Describe your ideal job setting and where you would like to be working five years from now.
Describe one goal that you recently set for yourself and achieved. What steps did you take to reach that goal?
What information/advice would you provide to an elementary school teacher who is concerned about the unhealthy lunches and snacks that the children in her classroom are bringing to school?
What do you think is your key quality that you will bring to our internship program?
What are your expectations from this program?

The following resources are acknowledged and were used to compile this document:

Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition (2003) Dietetic Internship: Applicant’s handbook University of Guelph.
Department of Human Nutritional Sciences Internship Program Website: Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba
Dietitians of Canada Program Match Application 2018
Dietitians of Canada (
Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (

Updated on September 19, 2017