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For Food Professionals: Own the Opportunities

Seize the day with your dreams and goals. What lights you up?

Choose who you want to be with your many interests and talents.

Following my Peace Corps experience, I returned to the university community. But after spending almost two decades in one academic setting or another, counseling patients in clinical settings, and being appointed to the tenure track, I found myself feeling unfulfilled.

Like my days working the fields and in restaurants, my brain and body wanted to move faster and finish quicker. I also missed working with others on projects—like my days as leading a team of banquet servers and my Peace Corps work in the hills of Guatemala. I had arrived at an uneasy balance between my own ambition and the expectations of the people around me.

“Opportunities offer hope. Open yourself to think and do differently.”

It was time for a change. I began interviewing at Fortune 500 companies. I soon learned that my lack of industry experience precluded me from the positions that interested me most. At the same time, I realized the importance of starting at the grass roots level. I became one of the first community dietitians hired in a grocery store setting. At that time, I also earned an MBA to augment my overall understanding of business.

Energized by this new path, I authored and served as an editor for a textbook as well as a food and nutrition professional organization's newsletter. I volunteered for different activities with the national professional organization of registered dietitian nutritionists, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and completed a number of projects for its membership. I was doing more, and moving quickly. I was much happier.

Near the completion of my MBA, I began dreaming about different jobs. Personally and professionally, I had always admired McDonald’s – affordable and satisfying food served efficiently. As a clinician, I discussed with clients/patients that any food and beverage could fit into an eating plan if portion size remained front and center for their choices…not where one eats, rather what and how much.

McDonald’s is known for its operations excellence and efficiency in restaurants, its marketing prowess and leadership, and the strength of its supply chain. I understood my role would be to provide information about nutrition and to educate customers about the variety of McDonald’s food and beverage choices offered in a variety of portion sizes. I was excited. It was an exciting challenge and opportunity, one for which I had prepared for many years.

Change + Challenge = Growth Opportunity

Throughout my life, when either the context or the situation changed, my values enabled and compelled me to overcome challenges. Through tough economic times, educational experiences and employment adventures, I’ve been taught to be a practical dreamer. I’ve learned what it means to be who I really am--a person with much gratitude, who developed resilience along the way, accepted and sought opportunities and shared wisdom with others. It’s been a powerful, life changing and ultimately, a fulfilling journey.

Think about the opportunities you’ve been offered while working in the food industry. How can they inform where you want to go?

What opportunities did you take and why?

What wisdom did you acquire along the way?

How can you share what you’ve learned with others?

Moving forward, what type of opportunities interest you the most?

How do those opportunities tap into your talents?

Grab opportunities to GROW!


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