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Industry Involvement: NACUFS (various positions including chairing a committee for summer foodservice management internships for college and university students), American Dietetic Association, Iowa State Dietetic Association
Years in Foodservice: 12 years (not including six years spent in college)
Educational Background: BS in Dietetics, MA in Community Health Education – both from UNI
What's the best career advice you have been given? Always do what you feel is right even if it is not the popular decision.
What attracted you to the industry? I worked in a restaurant when I was in high school and found it to be very interesting. I liked the people and the customer service element. During a college visit I stumbled on to a program offered by the Dining Services Department at UNI. It is a foodservice management program. You worked your way through the program and it puts you in a good position upon graduating. It helped me refine more of where my interests were in the field of dietetic. You are serving people and you get so much interaction with them.
What makes you want to stay in the industry? I feel the foodservice industry is very exciting. It is one of those fields where you are constantly able to learn new things. Some of it goes back to the people but there is never a dull moment. The number of networking opportunities is great, too. You are not out there alone. You can talk to other people about the challenges you face.
If you could improve one thing about the industry, what would it be? I think the negative stigma about working in the industry. When you are younger, people see the industry as a job to help them get buy. But once people work in the industry they get excited about the opportunities and the many trends they see. Some of the shows on television have excited students about careers as chefs or in foodservice. This allows them to make a choice about their careers and that's great. Looking at it from the dietetic side, so many students enter this area wanting to work in a hospital but now a growing number see opportunities in other segments of the industry and the industry continues to build upon itself in that regard.
What has been your proudest accomplishment? My proudest accomplishment has been working as a manager for a facility that was renovated during the planning, construction and re-opening phases. Through that time there are a lot of lessons learned on my part and that of the staff. But the best part is seeing the reaction of the customers and seeing how you have enriched their lives and made them happier.
Describe the biggest challenge you have overcome. Working in foodservice you have to overcome so many little challenges daily that you get used to overcoming challenges. While working on my master's degree, we started a family and the renovation project kicked into high gear, which meant my thesis took a back seat for a while. After not having worked on it for two to three years, I resumed work on it and got my masters. It is important to go back to some of those things you know you need to finish. It was a good lesson learned and a good feeling to have finished this.
What's the most important lesson you have learned? Be yourself. It's really the only way to gain the respect of those around you. Plus, you are able to respect yourself.
What excites you most about the foodservice industry? Some people may see the dietetic trends emerging as a big, dark cloud but I see it as a way to positively impact some people.