To evaluate the effectiveness of a seminar featuring a variety of nontraditional career opportunities available for nutrition majors.
Use of Theory or Research
Social Learning Theory suggests that individuals learn from observing others (models). Alumni can be models for students.
Undergraduate and graduate nutrition majors.
Since many students are only exposed to traditional careers in hospital, community and food service settings as part of curriculum, nutrition faculty sought to expand students’ perceptions of the nutrition field by highlighting nontraditional careers. Four alumni representing nontraditional careers in government, higher education, international work and business/website design were chosen to speak at a virtual panel. Each alumnus described their education/training, career path, lessons learned and words of wisdom. Prior to the program, a pre-event slideshow featured an additional 27 nutrition alumni in nontraditional careers including public relations, food policy, media, medicine, management and more.
An IRB-approved survey was sent to participants via email immediately following the seminar. Before distribution, face validity and content were confirmed.
Of the 203 seminar participants, 84% (n = 171) were students and 51% (n = 88) of the students completed the post-seminar survey. Of those responding, 87% (n = 77) were female, 78% (n = 69) were White and 91% (n = 80) were in a nutrition major. Of the 80 nutrition majors who finished the survey, 99% (n = 79) indicated they learned about new careers through the seminar and 96% (n = 77) stated they learned of resources to pursue a nontraditional career. Almost all, 95% (n = 76) responded their knowledge regarding the benefits of networking improved and 96% (n = 77) believed their knowledge of the role of nutrition professionals in nontraditional careers increased.
A seminar featuring alumni can be an effective way for faculty to expose students to nontraditional career options, the importance of networking and resources to navigate their future careers.