This week the spotlight is on Brianna Peterson, a Dallas dietitian with a really cool job! Like many of you that have contacted me with questions about how to break into the field of nutrition, being a dietitian wasn’t even on her radar when she was getting her first degree. She later found her passion while working her first job out of college and successfully turned it into a career.
Brianna, give us a little background and tell us how you got where you are today. My name is Brianna Peterson and I graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor in Business Administration (go Bobcats!). Later on down the line, I graduated from Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Dietetics and completed my RD internship there. In December of 2012, I finished up my Masters in Nutrition from TWU. I currently work as a Wellness Coordinator for a company in Dallas, Group and Pension Administrators, Inc. I have held this position for 2 years now and absolutely love it! I develop wellness programs for other businesses, including a car dealership, television network, bank, and manufacturing company. I coordinate health screenings, create health challenges, and customize wellness programs to meet the unique needs of each business. It is the perfect combo of both my interest areas- business and nutrition.
What got you interested in the field of nutrition?
I was working as a Lease Analyst for Shell Oil in Houston (first career out of college) and loved that the company had a wellness program. I talked to the wellness coordinator regularly and was very active in the program. I loved it! In fact, I knew I wanted to do something similar as my own career. However, I didn’t know how I wanted to break into the career. Did I go back to school for exercise physiology, health promotion, nutrition, etc? The options were endless. So I started talking to different people in these careers. I connected with dietitians the most so took a community college course in general nutrition. That was the first textbook I read front to back and wasn’t even told to. I could not put it down! I was intrigued. The next year I quit my job at Shell and went back to school full time for nutrition.
What is your favorite part of going to work every day? Well, I love that I don’t have to “go in” every day and can actually work out of my home office most days. Not driving in traffic saves me at least an hour or so per day and I LOVE that! I also love that my job requires me to be creative. I love tapping into my creative side with development of health challenges, marketing materials, and clever wellness program emails.
What is the biggest challenge of being a dietitian in your field? There are not a whole lot of dietitians in this field so it can be a challenge to get into this field if desired. Many wellness coordinators come from an exercise physiology or health promotion background. Breaking into this field takes networking and some experience (like most fields).
Do you follow any certain diet? No, but I do believe in eating intuitively. I think listening to your own body is essential. My taste buds love healthy foods, but they also enjoy sweets now and then.
What is one food you couldn’t live without? Apples. Or any fruit for that matter. I choose apples though because there is not one variety I do not like.
What is the top tip you give your patients/clients? Living a healthy lifestyle is a journey. Celebrate progress and forget perfection. If you set a goal and have an off day, get right back in the game tomorrow. And always find joy in the journey… a positive outlook can take you anywhere!
What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in your city? I love taking my mom to see musicals at the Dallas Summer Musicals in Fair Park. We go to about 4 or 5 shows each year!
What advice would you give someone interested in a career in the nutrition field? Network and talk with dietitians. Find out what it is you really want to do. Sometimes it takes a few jobs to find what you are truly passionate about and that’s okay. Do not be afraid to take a job as a stepping stone. At the very least, it will be experience to put on that resume for a bigger and better opportunity later on down the line.
Brianna recently launched a blog, Simple Delights, to further spread her passion for health and wellness. It can be found at www.simpledelights.co. Her email address is BriTexas@gmail.com.