Ahhh the dreaded personal statement. My friends I were editing our personal statements up to the very last second before DICAS was due. This is by far the hardest part of the DICAS application! It’s basically saying tell me why you are more worthy than the dozens (sometimes hundreds) or people applying for this internship, tell us who you are, what you have accomplished, and why that’s important….in 1,000 words of less. Which leaves you sitting there either in two different places. 1. Staring at a blank screen thinking I don’t have anything impressive to talk about or 2. Trying to take out every adjective you can to take your 2,000 words down to 1,000. But don’t worry! EVERYONE struggles with their personal statement no matter their writing strengths. I have come up with a few different questions and exercises that really helped me bring my personal statement to something that wasn’t painfully embarrassing! I will be sharing both my original personal statement and final personal statement with you so you can see the transformation.
My adviser met with each one of us students that were applying for DICAS. Part of the list of items she asked us to bring was our personal statement. It was incredibly uncomfortable and slightly demeaning to have someone bluntly explain to you how horrible your writing was. But it was exactly what I needed! She did the following as she read and I highly encourage you to do the same!
- Looked for descriptive words that were used more than once. (I used success at least 12 different times! Which means 1.2% of my personal statement used the word success!)
- Looked for a story that flowed rather than just paragraphs that explained separately.
- Took out whole sentences and paragraphs
One thing I will never forget Dr. Herzig telling me was “do you want people to read this and think that you just haphazardly decided to pursue this career? Or do you want people to read this and say wow she was very persistent and intentional?” After she asked me those questions I looked at it completely different! Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself! Locate your strengths and create a story of a victor, not a victim.
Before you begin your personal statement take some time to complete the following exercise and questions.
- Write why you want to be a dietitian. Don’t worry about flow, grammar, impressive words. Just write.
- Once you have written this down read through it and pick out ideas that you can build off of.
- Why do you want to go to this specific internship?
- What is something unique about yourself that is different from others?
- What are different strengths or weaknesses that people have pointed out about you?
- What do you personally feel your greatest strength is?
- Create a list of the volunteer and work experiences that you have done. Write down what qualities, lessons, and strengths each experience has given you.
- What is your dream career if you had no limitations?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
- What is something in the dietetics field that has always interested you?
After you complete these experiences read over all of it. Write down any additional thoughts that you have that could go into your personal statement. Remember that this is all free writing. Just dream and reflect!
Once you have finished these exercises take a peak at the questions DICAS is requiring you to answer in your personal statement. Then go to your internship website and see what additional questions (in any) you will need to answer. Start your FIRST draft. I bolded this word because I have rewritten my personal statement at least 5 different times. This is not including all of the edits and changes that I have made to it! I have had 6 different people read over it looking for errors and miscommunications.
Once you have written that first draft and read it for spelling and grammar errors, set it down and walk away. Come back the next day and reread it with fresh eyes. Then give it to professors, career specialists and classmates.
Below I have shared with you my first draft and my final draft of my personal statement. Feel free to comment any questions you have or contact me if you need fresh eyes to read your personal statement. I would be more than happy to give you some advice and direction. I will not write it for you though! I ONLY read finished work of people really interested in my opinion.
Also, I hope you all enjoy this beautiful picture of my nutrition girls! I would not have made in through my last two years of school without them! I still hang out with these gals even after graduation. This picture was taken by Sam Justice who is an incredible photographer (and Alyssa’s husband – Check out her blog at https://www.alyssakayle.com)! So thankful for talented friends!