By: Skylar Sites
Being halfway through my internship, I am understanding the importance of personal branding for my dietetics career. Personal branding is creating the perception of yourself, based on your abilities, experiences and achievements. It is a buzz phrase I heard often during college, but until the training I received in my internship, I didn’t fully grasp its value. We often get shy and feel uncomfortable when talking about building our personal brand because it seems like we are going to have to brag or sound self-centered. To some extent, this is true but building your personal brand is so much more than that, and it is imperative in the field of dietetics. Personal branding is useful in marketing yourself to potential employers.
During my undergraduate career, I created a LinkedIn profile as well as a personal website to apply to dietetic internship programs. I struggled with designing the website in a way that looked visually appealing while also displaying all the projects and work experiences that I believed to be relevant. Thankfully, from the beginning of the University of Maryland’s dietetic internship we had lectures and workdays to develop and enhance our personal branding. I decided to create a completely new personal website that used colors and designs that showed my personality in a more accurate manner, while still displaying all the work and knowledge I am gaining in my rotations. I also acquired the comfort to interact with others and post regularly on my Linkedin profile. I feel confident and have great pride in the personal brand that I am creating for myself, but it definitely was not always this way. Check out my tips below to see how I transformed myself from someone who avoided talking about my accomplishments to someone who now shows off my personal brand with pride.
- Create your personal website on a platform/site that feels comfortable to you. There are many site options out there such as Wix or Weebly. I chose one that I was comfortable using and that helped me be confident as I easily navigated the tool and designed my website without unneeded frustration. Personally, I switched over from Wix in college to Weebly for my current site because we learned that it is generally more user-friendly and allows you to alter the style more.
- Think about your target audience when creating your personal brand. One thing my writing and personal brand instructors have hammered home is the importance of identifying my goals and my target audience. For example, they indicated that if you hope to gain a position working in pediatrics, you will want your personal brand to be colorful, fun, and engaging with lots of graphics. On the other hand, this style would likely not work well marketing to a job working with an older population. Understanding your goals and potential audience will help create an authentic and effective personal brand.
- Always be true to yourself and be confident in who you are. Whether it is posting on professional platforms like Linkedin, sharing your work samples on a website, or creating content on social media; it is important to feel confident in yourself and stay true to your beliefs. This is the best way to create a personal brand that will help you obtain jobs and opportunities where you fit in best. When I first began creating my new personal website, I looked at so many examples that our tech team sent us. I got lost in all of these examples by others and almost created a site that reflected the style and goals of our tech team based on their sites. Thankfully, I realized this in time to change the color schemes, tab names, and overall layout of my site to better reflect the work I have done in college and thus far in my internship.
- One of the biggest tips that I learned throughout our branding training in the internship is that consistency is key. This means that if you have multiple sites (LinkedIn, personal website, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) that you use for professional functions, the design, style and tone should be similar. For example, I use the same cover photo on my LinkedIn account and the main page of my personal website. Furthermore, I use my profile picture (seen below) as my professional headshot on multiple platforms. I also have created a food and nutrition Instagram account where I chose to also use neutral colors because I want my brand to be seen as calm and inviting.
As a current dietetic intern and a future dietitian, I have learned that successful personal branding is essential not only for future employment opportunities but also to share helpful content with the public. Personally, I hope to use my nutrition education and social media presence to spread sound nutrition information backed by science to the general public. I found personal branding intimidating at first and I am so thankful that I have had many opportunities so far in my internship to break down the mental barriers I had created when it comes to marketing myself and my abilities. I hope that by sharing my experiences and my tips I can help motivate you to begin working on your personal brand as well!