Ask the RD #2 - Susan Stalte
Penina Langer| Oct 03,2021

Today we chatted with Susan Stalte, MBA, RD

Hi Susan! Please tell us a little bit about yourself

I'm a Philadelphia-based dietitian who knows what it's like to go through multiple career changes. I've worked in clinical nutrition, supported operations for two healthcare IT start-ups, scored a promotion in healthcare recruitment, and helped to run a thriving coaching business for dietitians-to-be; all before launching my own career business to help create more confident dietitians in the workplace.

Where did you complete your schooling? 

I did my DPD program at Immaculata University, my DI at Meredith College, and my MBA at Missouri Baptist University.

What made you decide to become a dietitian?

I knew that I wanted to work in healthcare but wasn't sure which path to take. I ended up enrolling in a nutrition elective course while at the local community college which sparked my interest in the career path. I also helped to care for a sick parent throughout my life and saw the impact of nutrition on disease prevention and management, but I wasn't aware of the career possibilities until I spoke with the dietitian teaching the nutrition elective course.

What is your favorite part about being a dietitian?

The job possibilities! Evidence-based and individualized nutrition advice is needed in countless areas of work, and always will be. The public needs dietitians.

What is your least favorite part about being a dietitian?

Dietitians need to advocate for themselves in some settings and positive change can come from speaking up. However, as nutrition experts, it can be unfortunate and discouraging at times that this is even required. I encourage dietetics students and dietitians to view these conversations as an opportunity to educate on all a dietitian can do.

What does your average day look like?

I work full-time remotely, and while normally I would be in a coffee shop or other co-working space, the coronavirus pandemic has changed my routine to staying home. I start my workday around 9 AM and complete my top 3 "must-do" tasks of the day right away. These are listed out in my planner the night before. My Passion Planner along with block scheduling are two time management tools that I live by to stay productive. I consistently take an afternoon break for a few hours then return later to work in the day with fresh eyes. My tasks for the day can range anywhere from group workshop presentations, LinkedIn networking, dietetic internship application edits for student clients, emails, interview coaching, and much more. Every day is different.

What is something you know now that you wish you would have known as a student?

I wish I would have known that it's okay to treat your career as an experiment. It's very uncommon for today's workforce to stay in their first job for 25+ years. I was very fluid with exploring my interests and learning different areas that dietitians can thrive, however, there was a gut feeling in the beginning of my career that I "should" be staying in one setting. This isn't the truth anymore, and it's important for students to enjoy the journey and regularly do a self-audit.

What inspired you to start NutriGig?

NutriGig started with the goal to connect dietitians with small businesses for project-based work, similar to a freelancer platform. This was around the same time as the coronavirus, and after speaking with different food business owners, I knew that a pivot was needed as businesses were pausing efforts to outsource. The career coaching component was always a part of NutriGig, so I pivoted to focus on 1:1 career support and e-courses. NutriGig is currently expanding its career mentorship team to allow dietitians and dietetics students to connect with different professionals on an hourly basis for individualized advice; we can all learn from one another. Having a mentor is important during all aspects of your dietetics journey.

You've been posting a lot recently about the importance of utilizing LinkedIn. Can you please explain to students why this is so important?

LinkedIn is a social media platform that offers a lot of organic reach and connection possibilities for students and dietitians. You can direct message leadership of your favorite brand or dream company at any point and engage with their content. It's much more likely that you'll be noticed versus sending a cold email. LinkedIn is the perfect resource for growing your network, forming genuine relationships, and sharing your nutrition expertise with the public. I highly encourage dietetics students and dietitians to post 3x/week on LinkedIn.

What do you do as Director of Operations at All Access Dietetics?

I help to run All Access Dietetics alongside Jenny Westerkamp, RD, CSSD. My Director of Operations title is a different word for "wear-er of many hats." :) I help to onboard new coaching and course clients, oversee and train our coaching team, manage outreach and collaborations, conduct payroll, monitor marketing efforts, and much more. Jenny is incredibly knowledgeable and kind, and has had such impressive career success as a dietitian and business owner. I'm so grateful for the opportunities she has given me over the last four years with the company.

You recently created the Dietitians for Change Facebook group. Can you please discuss what inspired you to do this and the positive effects it has had so far.

Another dietitian and I connected in the comments section of an Instagram post in June. We reviewed data on our profession and knew that changes were needed, so we teamed up to craft a formal letter to be sent to members of leadership in dietetics. In a little over a day, social media helped us to land over 1,000 signatures from dietitians and students. These efforts have brought together the dietetics community and we're excited for the positive change to come. There is power in numbers and in using your voice to speak up for what is right.

Do you have a message that you want to share with students?

No matter where you are in your dietetics journey, begin to form genuine connections with dietitians. Send tailored messages to those that are doing what you want to someday and learn about how they got to where they are. Don't only reach out when you need a job or an internship. Express interest in what they're doing year-round, ask if you can schedule a 15-minute phone call with them, and even share their social media content. They will notice your support and you'll be the first person they think of when an opportunity comes up.

Is there anything else you want students to know about you or what you do?

My journey to the RD credential wasn't easy! I transferred colleges twice, balanced three jobs and regular volunteering throughout in undergrad, and re-took chemistry three times. I was an All Access Dietetics client during my senior year of college and matched on the first attempt, passed the RD exam on the first attempt, and now help to run two businesses full-time. Your journey is what makes you "you" -- don't be discouraged if your GPA isn't as high as your peers. Everything will work out.

Fun fact about yourself!

I recently took an international trip with a dietitian that I met on Instagram. We spoke on the phone once, coordinated the whole trip over direct message and email, then met in-person for the first time in the JFK Airport a few weeks later. Be spontaneous and put yourself out there.

Where can students find you?

LinkedIn: Susan Stalte, MBA, RD 
Instagram: @nutrigig_susanstalte 

Thank you, Susan!

If you would like to be featured in a future "Ask the RD" column, click here

Penina Langer

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