The Unconventional RD Podcast Episode 034 - Finding Your Career Sweet Spot with Allison Riederer

More About Allison

Allison is the founder of Root and Rise Academy, a career coaching business that supports current and future dietitians in finding the career path that aligns who they are, what they believe, and their life goals.

It took 3 years of soul searching, heartbreak, and career dissatisfaction before Allison found her career sweet spot in academia where she educates, mentors, and coaches future dietitians.

Years later she created Root and Rise Academy to help all dietitians as they navigate the unique ups and downs of a dietetics career.

Connect with Allison

Episode Show Notes

Read the transcript

Welcome to The Unconventional RD podcast, where we inspire dietitians to think outside of the traditional employment box and create their own unconventional income stream. We’ll talk all things online business to help you start, grow, and scale your own digital empire.

What to expect from this episode

Have you ever felt just kind of stuck in your career? Like maybe you’re on a career path that doesn’t truly satisfy you? Are you pretty sure there’s something else out there that would be a better fit, but you’re not quite sure how to find it? Or maybe you’re a student about to start your career, but you have no idea what steps to take to find the career of your dreams.

Well, today on the podcast, I’m chatting with dietitian and career coach Allison Riederer about finding your career sweet spot.

Allison runs a career coaching business called Root and Rise Academy where she helps current and future dietitians find career paths that align with who they are, what they believe, and their ultimate life goals. Allison is such a joy to chat with and she shares such wonderful and real advice for you in this episode. I hope you come away inspired and reinvigorated to find and pursue your passions. So let’s dive in.

More About Allison

Erica: Hi, Allison, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.

Allison: Hey, thanks for having me. I’m so excited to be here.

Erica: Me too. I’m stoked to have you on. So for those of you who aren’t familiar, Allison is here today to talk about finding your career sweet spot. That’s something she’s definitely an expert in.

And just to start out this interview, I’d like to get a little more background, cause I feel like that’s such a unique niche that you have. So how did you get started in dietetics? And then how did that lead you into helping other dietitians kind of find work that they love?

Allison: Oh, such a good question. Okay. I’ll try to keep it, um, as succinct as I can. So I, I took a relatively non-traditional route to becoming a dietitian. I studied biochemistry in my undergrad degree. Huge science nerd. Didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. I didn’t even know dietitians existed. And I was at the University of Wisconsin, which has a fantastic DPD program, but still I never crossed paths with it.

Anyways, so I had finished school and I was working in a lab, very, very unhappy, wondering what I should do with my life. And somehow came across the concept of a dietitian and it was like a light bulb went off. One of those just moments where this is, you know, it’s like, how could I have never known? This is perfect! It’s biochemistry, but it’s also people and like conversations and counseling and all that stuff.

Um, so that’s what started me down the path to becoming a dietitian. I went to grad school, did my internship. And once I became a dietitian, I worked in clinical, uh, very classic dietetics path. I worked in clinical for, um, a total of three years where I kind of hopped around.

I did renal at first and then I got a job managing a weight management program. So it was more entirely outpatient-based and kind of program management. And it just wasn’t, at that time in my life, a fit for me. And it was a really good job on paper, but it wasn’t the right job for me.

And I got the opportunity to teach one class, uh, back at the University of Utah, where I got my graduate degree, which was right where I lived and all that stuff. And I took it, tried it out, loved it. And then, and then applied for a full time teaching job that had come up. And that’s what drew me into nutrition and dietetics education, and really sparked this passion in me for helping develop knowledge set and skill set and perspective, um, in future professionals.

I taught intro to nutrition, so I taught a lot of undergrads, but then also specifically dietetic students, really helping them get an idea of where they want it to be in the field and how to get there. Um, and so I’ve been in dietetics education now still to this day, for, I think I’m starting my seventh year in higher ed.

And Root and Rise Academy really started as a side thing because I was working with dietetic students and then I started to see more preceptors and see preceptors that weren’t fulfilled in their roles and my own former classmates feeling unfulfilled and myself going through it and being able to find my sweet spot and Root and Rise came out of seeing that need and really loving working with people as they’re trying to navigate their career.

Erica: I love the name too. I don’t know if this is what you meant, but to me, it says you need to like root down first, like put your roots down and get stable and figure out where you’re trying to be and then you can just like shoot up rise really quickly. Is that the analogy you’re going for?

Allison: Exactly right. Um, yeah, it is. It’s really about like centering yourself in who you are and using that information, that knowledge and that solid foundation or roots, to then start to branch out, whether it’s out or up or, you know, whatever shape plant you want to be. Really using that, but drawing from that core idea of who you are, what you believe, what you know, and your needs from your job, which we’ll talk more about later.

Erica: I love your background too. It’s very near and dear to my heart. Cause I also worked in a lab and then I didn’t work in traditional higher education, but I was a tutor for a really long time, like through grad school and even as a dietitian still. So I totally get where you’re coming from with that love of mentorship and, you know, really helping guide people, even when they’re just starting their careers, or their lives in my case, to try to figure out where they want to go.

Why do so many dietitians struggle to find work they love?

Erica: So since you’ve seen so many people and students through your work, do you have any thoughts on why so many dietitians have trouble finding work that they truly enjoy?

Allison: Ooh, you know, I don’t think it’s a problem unique to dietitians, but I think where it becomes really kind of unique to our field as dietitians is that we’re in this career field where we’re trained and when we’re trained people say, Oh, you can do all sorts of things. You can do so many different things as a dietitian.

And that’s true. But then we’re only really told how to do one or two or three things. And so without a clear path, not always, but sometimes, you know, the personalities that are drawn to dietetics, myself included, struggle to go down a path that isn’t very clearly charted. And so we end up in these jobs that are clinical most often, but not always. Sometimes public health, sometimes food service, longterm care, that just don’t fit. And we know there’s other things out there, but we don’t know what it is and how it would work and how to navigate it.

And that’s where we can start to spin in the overwhelm. And so I think we just aren’t taught how to do that work before we’re already in our careers.

Erica: Yeah. That’s such a good point. I feel similar, that even when I entered the field and decided I wanted to be some sort of entrepreneur, I almost felt like the only option was one-on-one work or private practice, even though logically now I’m like, that’s really stupid. Ther’s obviously so many other things that you could do, but it felt like that was the only clear path, like you said. So I’m sure that people feel that way in all the different niches. So thanks for bringing that to our attention.

Allison: Yeah. I actually see it a lot in entrepreneurs. And I’ve experienced it. Somebody might go down the most obvious entrepreneurial path without ever saying like, is this right for me? Does it fit? And there are just so many different paths, but it’s overwhelming to think about trying one and the other, the other.

How can you tell if your career doesn’t satisfy you?

Erica: Yep. So along those lines, how can someone tell if they’re in a career that doesn’t truly satisfy them?

Allison: So most commonly, and I speak from my own experience with this, but then also working with students and clients, I think it is ultimately an intuition thing. And I say that hesitantly, because I think sometimes, you know, some people are really good at reading their own intuition and trusting it and other people don’t have as close of a connection, I guess, to their intuition.

But some things that I see this translated as, so while it might be a trust your intuition thing, some of the things that can be key indicators is:

1. How do you feel going into work?

How do you feel walking into your job or opening up your computer and like in the mind space of starting work? How do you feel? Do you dread it?

2. Do you procrastinate a lot of things?

That’s one of the things that I see people do when they’re in careers that are jobs that they really don’t love or have a passion for is they they’ll procrastinate, procrastinate, and they still do the job and they still do a good job. But when you’re in a job that also aligns with your passion and your interests, you go farther because you want to. Like, you get creative about solving problems. You might get innovative, you might push the envelope a little bit because you want to. You have that genuine interest.

And when you don’t, it can just be “All right, I’m here. I’m going to do my job. I’m going to meet my deadlines. I’m going to move on.” and just kind of that, like that meh feeling.

3. How would you feel if you were in this same job 3 years from now?

And then also try to ask yourself how you might feel if you’re in the same job three years from now. See what that feels like when you envision it.

“Oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine myself in this job three years from now. There’s no way I would be so unhappy.” Or thinking, “Okay, I know that I’m in a tough season in my job right now, but I still love it. I still see myself in it. And three years I can picture that. I can see what that would look like, and that doesn’t make me want to throw up.” That’s a good point.

Erica: How do you get past the little nervous jitteriness or unconfidence when you’re doing something new versus not liking something or feeling like it’s not a good fit?

Allison: Yeah. It’s a tough one. Cause for every person it’s different, but here’s one thing I continually come back to. Even your dream job is going to have hard days, hard weeks, hard months. Because our dream jobs, even if they’re going to push us, we’re going to grow. We’re human beings, right? We’re going to go through these different things, figure out how to navigate them.

The first year of any job is really hard. Um, so it’s a matter of trying to be able to see, and this is part of what we do at Root and Rise Academy, being able to see how the job fits into the bigger picture of your life so that you’re not so stuck in “this moment is hard. This moment is hard.” You can zoom out and say, I know this moment is hard, but I can also see why I’m here. That it’s going to get better. That it’s just one moment.

It kind of helps to zoom in or zoom out and have that perspective shift.

Erica: That feels true to me, thinking about my experiences working with people one on one versus say, trying to start a blog. When I was doing the one on one work, thinking forward, you know, three, five years. I’m like, no, if this was what I was doing all day, every day, I would not be happy. Versus with writing and content creation, it’s like, I don’t care if it’s going to take me five or 10 years to get there. I want to do this, you know? So you find a way to make it work. So I think that is a really good reminder.

What is the first step to take if you don’t like your career?

Erica: if someone’s listening to this and they’re like, “Oh shoot, I don’t like the career that I’m in. I don’t see myself in this longterm.” What the heck is step one? What do they do from there?

Allison: So the first thing that I tell people is like, first of all, feel it. You don’t have to jump into fix it mode.

Just kind of allowing yourself to feel that disappointment or frustration, or, you know, just feel that for a while, give yourself that permission. But then also once you have experienced that and felt it, sit down and write why. Write down and reflect on what you do and do not like about it, because there’s something to be learned from every experience.

I say this to interns, I say this to dietitians, I say this to my kid. There’s something to be learned from every experience. And sometimes what you have to learn is what you don’t want to do. But just saying, “I don’t want to do this.” Doesn’t give you insight to carry forward. It gives you a big box that you close up and shove away, but it doesn’t give you the insight of… the reason I don’t like this is because I’m in a really outward facing role and it’s draining. I’m seeing clients all day and I’m exhausted. And I would like to do more inward-facing work where I am doing content creation. I’m doing program planning, program management, some other tasks. Or is it that you don’t like the work because you’re working with children and you’d rather work with a different population? Or there are so many different facets to why a job may not be the right fit.

And those are valuable pieces of information to carry forward and move forward in your career with the knowledge and insight of what you do and don’t like, so you don’t repeat it.

Erica: Yes. And not to keep coming up with my own examples, but something that I discovered along those same lines was I don’t like coaching, but I love teaching.

And you would think that maybe they would be the same thing because in both scenarios, you’re like interacting with people and you’re helping them, but it’s a different dynamic and a different skillset and that was a really big light bulb moment that helped me navigate. So now I mostly do all teaching online and writing to teach, basically.

Allison:Ttotally. One of the questions that I talk about with people is what do you feel the most energized or drained by? Do you like the one-to-one? Do you like the one to five or six? Or do you like the one to 3000? Because different people have different levels of the teaching/coaching mentality, if that’s the pathway they’re going down.

Erica: And it’s so cool that there are so many ways. Like once you identify it, it’s not really a limiting factor. It’s clarity to get you to the right spot.

Allison: Totally. Cause I think so often we see dietitians, and I’m one of them, and nutrition professionals, who are multi-passionate. And so it’s like, I could do this, I can do this, I can do this. I can do this. I could do it all. It all sounds so cool. And you could just start to like spin and get overwhelmed and feel like, well, now I don’t know what to do because I have so many interests that anything is possible. So I can’t take action.

And so kind of using those pieces of information about yourself to help narrow it down allows for more intentional action.

What questions should you ask yourself to find your ideal career?

Erica: Do you have any questions specifically that people could try to ask themselves in that scenario where they’re not sure what career would be the best fit for them?

Allison: Yes. So the first question I always ask people is what would you do if adulting was not a thing?

Like, what would you do if you didn’t have to make money, you didn’t have to pay for healthcare, you didn’t have to save up for retirement, you didn’t have to keep a roof over your head. For me, it would be performing on Broadway. I have no talent, no talent when it comes to singing or performing, but this is where the teaching and the coaching comes in. I like that aspect of talking to people, delivering things to people. So that’s one question I always ask. And you cannot answer “be a dietitian.” So it has to be like outside the world of dietetics. There’s interesting insight to be gained from the answer to that question.

But generally speaking, the framework I use is like a three-way Venn diagram and you want to find the part in the middle where these three things overlap. It is your head, your heart, and then your needs. Okay?

So your head being your skillset, your knowledge, your work experience, your life experience.

Your heart being your passion, your interests, the part of us that got into dietetics, to help people, or a certain population that we really care about. Something like that.

And then your needs being, what do you need back from your job? Cause you give your job, your head and your heart. What does your job give you in return? What kind of compensation? And that’s not just salary, that’s benefits, that’s retirement, that’s flexibility and location or hours and schedule it’s your work environment. It’s, it’s all of those. Like logistic things.

And even spending five minutes on each of those topics and doing just a brain dump, like, okay, here are just a list of things that I’m passionate about in nutrition, or here are a list of interests that I have, things I love about nutrition, articles that I would click on if I saw it on Facebook, just a no judgment brain dump list.

Okay, here’s my skills and knowledge. That could be pulled off of a resume or even describing the different jobs that you’ve had.

And then the third one being what you need in return, thinking through things like, okay, this is the general income that I need to support my life. Maybe you don’t need to carry your own benefits. Great. And that’s not necessarily a priority of a need from your job. Maybe for a person’s specific life goals their needs are part time work, flexible location, and flexible hours. Being able to set their own hours. That’s a very different job that someone’s looking for than somebody else who wants full time in-person work and benefits.

So really thinking through, okay, where do all of those things then align? And that’s where we get to be creative about looking at different fields within dietetics, in different jobs within dietetics, and starting to say, okay, how does this align with these parts of me?

Because so often we don’t center ourselves in our career. That’s where the Root and Rise comes from. We go down this career path and then figure out how we fit in or if we fit in later, when really we should be saying, okay, who am I? What do I want? What do I need? And how do I build a career around that?

Erica: Yep. Or another big one is looking at what other people are doing and how successful other people are in different niches or types of jobs and then using that as your guiding barometer, without thinking about whether you would like it or whether it fits well with your personality. I see that a lot.

Allison: Oh and I’ve gone down that road. She’s a mentor to this day in my life and in my career, but she was my first preceptor and she’s amazing. I mean, she’s just amazing. I adore her. I wanted to be her. I’m not her. And so I started barreling down this career path in clinical.

I wanted to be a manager. Then I wanted to be the head of a department. And then I was like, yes, perfect. She does this. I want to do this. She’s amazing. I want to be amazing.

We are two different people. And I ended up in a line of work that wasn’t right for me because of it.

Erica: Yeah. And don’t you think that part of what makes them seem so awesome and incredible is because they are so aligned with themselves and the career that works for them? So really, if you want to really get down to it, if you want to shine in the same way, it’s less about following the exact steps of that person, but more about figuring out how you can find your thing to shine in, just like that other person did, but maybe it’s a totally different niche or career path. But I think that’s the deeper thing to be searching for, for sure.

Allison: Absolutely. And giving yourself permission to define your own success because that’s the other thing that I, and many people get sucked into is, oh, this job is so good on paper. It’s a fancy job.

It’s a boss lady job. And it’s like, well, that’s fine, I guess. But it’s not giving me the life I want. It’s not giving me the flexibility. At the time I was living across the country from my parents and my inlaws and it didn’t give us the flexibility to travel to see them. And that’s what was important to me. And so I took a substantial pay cut, like a 30% pay cut, because I was privileged to be able to do so in that moment in time, to shift into academia. And just now, almost seven years later, I’m back at the salary I was at when I left clinical.

Erica: Thank you for sharing that. I think that’s important. People don’t talk about the detailed stuff like that very often, I don’t think.

Allison: Yeah, no. The other thing that I would add to that is we talk about your head, your heart and your needs, but at different chapters of your life, you’re going to put those things at different priorities.

So there was a time in my life where I was a high utilizer of healthcare. And so I needed good insurance and I needed to carry my own insurance because I was over the age of being able to be on my parents’ insurance and I wasn’t married and whatever. So I stayed in a job that I didn’t love so that I could maintain the insurance to receive the treatment, see the specialists, receive the sustained care that I needed at that time. And when I transitioned out of that role (that was when I was in clinical), when I transitioned out of that role, I was at a point where I could say, okay, I’m through that chapter of my life. So the benefit of that job, the security, the benefits in terms of health insurance, aren’t my number one priority. I want to do something that I love. And so if that means I don’t carry my own health insurance, I’m okay with that. At that point, I was in a different life circumstance. I was married. I could go on my husband’s, whatever, but it always shifts for all of us.

And so being able to be individual in knowing your needs and your life goals is very, very important.

Erica: Yes. I love that point. I don’t think anyone’s really talked about that yet on the podcast. It’s okay for your needs and your career to shift over time. I’ve been plotting my career as if I have kids for like, I don’t know, at least five years. Like I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve always been trying to align myself and set myself up to have a career where it would be flexible for when I’m ready to get to that stage of my life.

Allison: And that’s awesome. And some people think they know what that stage of life is going to be like, and then they’re in that stage of life and it changes. And so really starting to practice having the self-awareness to say, what do I need in this moment? What are my goals in this moment? And then how, how can I kind of shift within where I am to align with your goals shifting?

What if you can’t leave your job right now?

Erica: And what about people who might be listening and they’re like, okay, cool, this sounds great. I would love to leave my job and do something else that’s more satisfying, but guys, like, I just can’t. I need the money or the health insurance or whatever. What should they do if they feel kind of stuck in their job?

Allison: Yeah, that’s such a good question.

Part of all of this is being mindful and being aware of your choices in your life and how you navigate your career. And so if you are in a circumstance where you are in a job and you feel like you have to stay because of salary benefits, whatever, okay. That is where you are right now.

What can we do to protect that, but also kind of help you shift your perspective to saying, I’m choosing this. I’m choosing this because I need it in my life, but this is what I have to do maybe outside of work to make sure that I’m really engaging in joyful things. Or maybe could you talk to a supervisor about shifting your role a little bit within work?

Like it’s okay to feel like there are parts of your life that you can’t control, but where are the parts that you can control and how can you balance them out to take the edge off of not loving your job? Does that make sense?

Erica: Yeah. I love your recommendation to shift the perspective too, because even if you feel stuck and you have aspirations of eventually making a transition, maybe a couple years from now, you can hold onto that hope and that plan and be okay with where you’re at now. And feel confident that maybe whatever you’re doing, like you said, outside of work or whatever, maybe you’re blogging on the side and your goal is like three to five years from now to have income from that to gradually leave your job, or maybe another type of side gig, or whatever, you can be at peace with where you’re at now and still hold your future goals with optimism, I guess.

Allison: Yeah, absolutely. I think sometimes we get in this cycle of kind of moving through our careers like a leaf blowing in the wind, right? And just getting blown in one direction or another and not having any control and feeling like you have a plan, but what are you really doing?

And really being mindful about your career and intentional about your career allows you to feel like, okay, I know I’m not in a perfect job right now, but this is what I am getting from it. I see its role in my life. And this is what I plan for.

Overcoming judgment about a career change

Erica: I think the other common worry that I see people talk about is being afraid of being judged by their peers or their family if they do a total 180 and everyone’s like, I thought you were doing clinical…. now you’re doing sports nutrition? Like, you know? I don’t know, that was just an example, but what should people do to overcome that fear?

Allison: So that is a tough one. And I think one of the things that I remind people of, and I have to remind myself of, is when people express that concern or what might feel like judgment, it’s usually coming from a place of like, almost fear for them. You know, I think about my own family and I have a very supportive family, but when I, when I told them that I was starting my own business on the side of my full-time job, they had all these questions and it was all these fear-based questions.

Like, Oh, have you thought about this? Have you thought about that? And I felt really, really defensive until it was like, well, they’re just wanting to make sure I’m going to be okay. And so trying to remember that is really valuable, but then also this is part of why you want to have a clear idea of your decision making behind the change. Because if you have a clear idea of it, you might be able to say, as you’re, let’s say, transitioning from clinical to sports nutrition, you will be able to say to somebody, “You’re right, this is a big move. And I’ve put a lot of time and energy into my clinical career, but I really love the energy around athletics and sports nutrition. And I love the personal development that happens around sports. And I really like the topic and it aligns so well with my life goals because I want to travel and I want to get up at four in the morning and go to practice have time off during the day because of it. And I want to have the cycle of on-season and off-season.” And like, you have a little bit of those answers because you’ve done the work to say, you’re right. That was a “safer” path for me, but I was really not happy.

So I’m doing this and these are the reasons why I think it’s going to be a good fit and you know what, clinical’s always going to be there.

Erica: And like you said at the very beginning of this interview, this isn’t a problem unique to dietetics. So no matter who you’re talking to, maybe that’s really gonna resonate with that person too.

Maybe they aren’t really happy in their job, so in watching you go off and chase something that you love, maybe that’ll inspire them too. So you never know, you know? I like that advice.

Allison: And I will also say, depending on where you fall in the different generations, so to speak, like my dad had one job.

He worked for the same company for his entire career. So this idea of switching jobs every three to five years or changing career paths, it’s pretty foreign to him, or at least it was. We’re breaking them into it. Um, but you know, it’s just where came from.

It’s what he understood and that’s what he was taught to do. So why would he know any different?

Erica: And you’re right that 99% of the time it’s coming from a place of just love and concern. So yeah, reframing can help a lot.

Allison: I was going to say, but make no mistake, when I started Root and Rise Academy, I was terrified of my current and former coworkers and colleagues and friends in the field judging me for what I was doing. But it was worth risking their judgment for me to do this. And that came from that self-awareness, it came from that place of, I don’t care if I fall flat on my face, this is something that I will fall for. I will fail for this because I love it and I want to do it and there’s a need for it and let’s do it.

And so I then operated in secret for like six months and then got up the courage to put something out on Facebook where people would see it and nothing has happened. And they might have opinions about it, but you know what, that’s not really any of my business.

Erica: A few months ago, I had Lauren Cash on the podcast and she has a background in psychology, but didn’t end up pursuing that and instead did some life coaching certifications alongside dietetics and she had a similar fear of like, Oh, what are my psychology friends going to think about this life coaching thing, you know? But who cares? It’s your life, you know? You only get your one shot, so one thousand percent you should really stand with confidence in what you decide to pursue.

And I mean, even if you fail, you can’t avoid failing in life.

Allison: Yeah. It was really helpful to me, I can’t remember where I heard the quote so I can’t give credit, but it definitely wasn’t me coming up with it… “You either win or you learn, there’s no failing.” It’s like you win or you learn something. We’ve got to take that negative stigma off of failing. It’s just not serving anyone.

Erica: You’re so right. I mean, failing, I’m thinking of an example, like you try to launch something online and no one buys it. You might feel really upset, but there’s so much to learn from that. I have been there and I didn’t quit and here we are now, selling a lot of things online and it’s going well. I think a lot of people struggle with that first ” failure”, and then it scares them.

And then they’re like, Oh, that’s not for me. Like, I can’t do this. And then maybe they back away to the safer thing. But as much as you can, push forward and try to try to learn from it and not give up.

Allison: Yeah.

Common career pitfalls for new dietitians

Erica: So with all of your experience mentoring new dietitians, are there any common threads that you see? Like pitfalls, maybe, that people fall into when they’re starting their careers?

Allison: Yes.

1. Imposter syndrome

The most common one is imposter syndrome. It’s feeling like I don’t have enough experience. And it’s a common piece of advice that early career dietitians get, get a foundation of clinical. And that’s great for some people. It’s not going to hurt you, but it’s also not absolutely necessary.

I mean, I have students coming out of the dietetics program that I run in my day job now and they’re amazing, talented, intelligent, insightful individuals that don’t have any desire to go into clinical. And they’re going to have fabulous careers. It’s just this idea of like, there’s only one path, there’s only one thing, and everybody has to do it.

And that ultimately results in people being afraid. Afraid to try things, afraid to break the mold.

Erica: Or afraid of being called out, like, Oh, how are you doing that when you don’t have this much experience in XYZ topic? That is a big one.

2. Procrasti-education

Allison: Yup. Another thing that I heard described on a podcast: procrasti-education. So procrastinating by saying, I have more to learn. I have more to learn. I have more to learn. And I am so guilty of it. I think lots of us are. But this imposter syndrome, this idea that, well, I’m not ready. I’m not good enough. I don’t belong in XYZ field because I don’t have 15 years experience. Well, you know how you get 15 years experience? You just have to start.

Erica: Yep. And one of the things I always come back to is, you’re not gonna know everything. So when (not if, but when) it happens and someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, you can just say, you know, I’m not sure, but I’m happy to go find out more and talk about it at our next session or whatever the context is of the question. But that’s fine!

And I also think back to my experiences with healthcare providers, like a doctor or whatever, like I don’t even get that most of the time. Just through my regular sessions, it’s not common for them to carry on the topic again to another session. So I think even just showing that you care and you’re going to look into it and you can address it again makes you look great.

Allison: Yeah, absolutely. There’s more power to be had in knowing and acknowledging your limits than there is in trying to know everything, cause you’re never gonna know everything.

Erica: All right. So common pitfalls. We have imposter syndrome, education procrastination, being afraid that you don’t have enough experience. What else is there anything else?

3. Fear of commitment

Allison: Yes. Fear of commitment.

This idea of being multi-passionate and saying like, I have so many different interests, I’m interested in sustainability and food systems and I’m interested in food access and I’m interested in women and children’s health. And I’m interested in renal nutrition and sports medicine and being an entrepreneur. So I can’t commit to any of them because if I commit to one, I’ll never be able to go to one of the others.

Like this fear that if you pick a direction, you can never change directions. And you can absolutely change directions! Will it be a bit of a winding path? Yeah. But that doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t have to be this, you know, indicator of failure, indicator of anything. It’s just, you have relationships in one field, and you’ve got to build relationships in another field. You have to build experience and knowledge. And this is an unhelpful thing to say, but it’s just the way that it goes. I think when people have this fear of saying, well, I’m so overwhelmed, I can’t commit to anything because then I’m going to close all these other doors, that’s just not, that’s not the way it works.

Erica: And if you never get the real-life experience, I know this was true for myself, everything just remains a little bit of a surface-level interest and you really genuinely think that you would like all of them, but then guaranteed, as you try different things, you’re not going to like all of them equally.

There’s gonna be something that pulls more strongly. And then that’s the clarity that you’re looking for. And you would never get that if you just didn’t try it.

Allison: Totally. Totally. And then not having the ability to focus on one path, it’s kind of similar to entrepreneurship. Like if you try to talk to everyone, you’re going to talk to no one. If you try to find every single dietitian job that exists and apply to all of them at once, you’re going to spend more energy doing all the things and get nowhere.

Erica: I see that a lot with even just trying to build an online audience. It’s like, they’re blogging and they’re on Instagram and Pinterest and YouTube and a podcast. And like, none of them are really going well. You just gotta pick one first and master that and then add more to your plate. And I mean, I made that mistake for sure, myself, so it’s common.

Allison: Yes, I’m fresh off making that mistake.

Things that hold people back from switching careers

Erica: Okay. So those are the mistakes that you see new dietitians making. Are there similar mistakes that hold people back from switching careers too? Or is there anything extra that comes in maybe later in your career?

Allison: Um, I think what I see happening when people are looking to switch careers is a little bit of like fear of missing out or fear of making the wrong choice.

And so the way that ends up showing up when you’re switching careers is saying, well, I’m really unhappy in my job, but I don’t want to get another job because I might regret it. And so then you stay. You stay in this place of unhappiness because you think, well, what if the next thing is worse? What if I never have a job this good again?

But you hate that job…. You don’t like that. It’s not for you. So you WILL have a better job because that job isn’t serving you in one way or another. And so it’s almost this like fear of missing out. FOMO of like, okay, well, if I jump ship, I might regret it. So I might as well stay in this place where I at least know how bad it is as opposed to the unknown that it could be worse.

Erica: We talk about this a lot in my household, because my husband’s in real estate. So there’s been lots of like career pivots.

This might be kind of going off topic, but I think for some people, this might tie into your earlier life experiences too. And how much stability you had in your life and safety. So that when you have something that you feel like you know, you know what it is, that feels safe and comfortable. And then switching from that to the unknown, even if it’s going to be unknown but better, it’s hard.

Allison: And that’s where being very self aware of your intention and your why and saying, okay, I know this job has X, Y, and Z. And this different path that I’m looking to pivot into, this is why I’m doing it. This is what I see that I might get from going in a different direction. This is why I see it might align better with these parts of me, where my current job doesn’t.

And then also saying, and here’s my backup plan. I’ve said this already, clinical is not going anywhere. You have a backup plan. You can go back. You don’t have to go back, but you can go back. No decision is ever, well, generally speaking, not always, but these decisions are never permanent. You may not be able to go back to the exact same job, but you can go back to that area of dietetics.

Erica: All right. So I think that’s very helpful, but that was good, actionable advice for career changing people.

And then would your actionable advice for the newer dietitians be basically like, just do it?

Allison: I think for newer earlier career dietitians, it’s again, it’s starting to build that self awareness and it starting to walk through and think through, okay, what are the core pillars of my passion, my interest, but also then what do I know? What do I know from my internship? What do I know from jobs you held during your education or before you became a dietitian? What, what have you learned from that? Like really starting to compile this. Okay. I know I am introverted, but I like to work on small teams.

Okay. That’s what I know about myself. So when a job comes up, does it have that or not? And even if it doesn’t have it, you could still take the job, but understand that there might be some friction there. And so you may have to work through that in other ways.

The importance of peer support

Erica: And do you think having peer support or someone to talk through this stuff, does that help? And where can people find that type of support?

Allison: Hugely. I can’t even tell you how many times when I was struggling in my career, I have the benefit of my cousin, who I grew up with, she’s more like a sister to me than anything else, is also dietitian. And I would call her and talk to her and it would be like, Oh my gosh, you just, you get it. You get what I’m talking about. You get the frustration, you get the passion, you get exactly what I’m saying. And that was so valuable to me. And I think it’s valuable to other people.

So finding somebody who has an awareness of the field, whether that is a former classmate, whether that is a trusted colleague or coworker, or looking into a career coach or a mentor or something like that where it’s like a third party. Right? So somebody where I don’t care if you’re in a job and looking for a different one, you may not feel comfortable talking about that with a coworker, but with a career coach, a mentor, somebody who’s out of your life and can just listen to you and be a sounding board, but also gets it. So you can absolutely look for that within your life, within your circle of people.

You can find that, like I said, through classmates or peers or former preceptors or mentors. But it’s also available in the form of career coaching. And that’s something where you can say, okay, I know I’m committing to be able to talk and not be judged. And the person’s going to get what I’m saying and help me work through it without being afraid for me, without expressing that “oh, but are you sure? Are you sure? Like, I’m worried about you because I’m your mom, dad, aunt, uncle, friend, partner, whatever.” So there are a lot of places that somebody could find it, but I would definitely recommend finding it, or meeting, honestly, with Root and rRse Academy.

Erica: I could just be unaware of this niche, but I’ve never seen anybody offering the same sort of service for dietitians.

Allison: Yeah. There are certainly people and fantastic people that are helpful in job searching and resumes and interviewing. But it’s kind of like that idea of self awareness and doing that work that doesn’t really exist. Or that I have found either. And it’s so important. And so I hope that whether people come and benefit from what we offer at Root and Rise or do the work on their own and find other ways to do it, it is important. And so I hope by starting to talk about it, it just becomes more ingrained in us that we have to center ourselves in our careers. It’s important.

Erica: And for anyone listening, you need to follow Allison’s Instagram/TikTok, because it’s the best. And when you said earlier, if I could do anything, I would be on Broadway. I’m like, well, that shows in your TikTik stuff. It’s so fun.

Allison: This is a part of it too. Like, you can’t really take anything too seriously. And that’s why I love TikTok, I guess. And let’s hope it doesn’t go away, but it just allows us to kind of poke fun at ourselves and our career. So yes, come join me on Instagram and TikTok!

And dietitians have so much power. We do so much good and we really let it out when we were able to be authentic in our careers. And so I think that’s the benefit of what we do at Root and Rise Academy.

Erica: Is your Instagram handles and all that just rootandriseacademy?

Allison: Yup. Everything is rootandriseacademy, all the way down to the website. Root and Rise Academy.

Erica: Yeah. Perfect. And where do you hang out the most if people want to connect with you?

Allison: I hang out the most on Instagram. TikTok is fun, but I feel old. I don’t know. I don’t really know it all that well, I just go on there and do funny stuff. So I hang out on Instagram the most.

Erica: Yeah. Awesome. I know… I hang out the least on Instagram, so I need to like, get it together. Like this is 2020 and I’m still stuck on Facebook.

Allison: Well, this is why I love your community so much on Facebook! It’s all people that are like the unconventional RD, right?

We don’t have to take that one path. You’re doing so much on Facebook. Just send everybody over there.

Erica: Yeah, I know. It’s one of those things, like we talked about earlier, master one platform. I think I can check the box on that one now, like we just passed 9,000 members this week, which is crazy. I mean, compared to an Instagram following, it’s different, but it’s interactive. I just like that it’s interactive and it’s a space to actually have conversations with people.

Allison: Absolutely. Yeah.

Erica: And you hang out there too, so potentially people can hang out or ask questions or connect with you in my Facebook group as well.

Allison: Uh, yeah, absolutely. When I see somebody ask a career question, I’m like, yesssss, let’s do this.

Erica: I know. And you give really good, helpful, actionable advice. So I’m sure all of your offerings are amazing. And speaking of… before we leave, did you want to talk about your dietetics career accelerator? Did you want to mention that?

Allison: Yeah, I would love to. So I have a program. I do work with individuals and then I also do a group coaching program, group career coaching program called the dietetics career accelerator. Um, and it is a group coaching program that is all surrounding this idea of figuring out, okay, what are my core kind of pillars of my career? How do I identify and be self aware of these things?

I have a 25 page workbook that I developed that walks people through the different exercises and kind of journaling prompts, but also like identifying your core values and your personality. And we talk about how all of that fits into your career and link it to, okay, what is present in your current career path and what is not. Do you need to make adjustments or changes? Have you thought of this field, this field, this field, and really pair participants up with different fields in dietetics to explore and to learn more about along with kind of the resources to do it, and get that idea of, okay, how can I root down in who I am to just expand into the dietitian that I’m meant to be in the career I’m meant to be in?

That whole idea of really accelerating people through that process, because when you have to do it by trial and error, it can take years.

Erica: Can people find that just on your website? Is it on the homepage?

Allison: Certainly yes, it’s on the homepage. So there is a free workshop coming up in September. That’s right on the homepage of my website. It’s called the dietetic career sweet spot workshop. And that is a great taste of what we’re going to be working on and talking about career satisfaction and how we find it.

And then the dietetic career accelerator we’ll be launching at the end of September.

Erica: Perfect. And I will put links to all of this in the show notes for anyone listening, if it’s easier to just go somewhere and click on a link, it’ll be at with links to all of Alison’s resources and any other resources we mentioned today.

Allison: Awesome. Cool.

Erica: Well, thank you again for being here. And like I said, I really think this is such a unique and important need that you’re filling. So thank you for all of the work that you do and spending an hour here with us to help.

Allison: Yeah. Well thank you for having me. It’s been so fun and I adore all your work at The Unconventional RD, so I’m so glad that we got to chat.

Erica: Yeah, thank you!

All right. That was such a great episode. I hope you guys enjoyed it and got a lot of value out of that discussion. Again, if you want links to anything that we talked about during this episode, just head to the show notes for this episode, it’s at There you can find an actual place to listen to the episode, a full transcript of the entire conversation, and easy to access links to anything that we mentioned throughout our conversation.

And again, please follow Allison on Instagram or TikTok, she’s hilarious. And you’re always welcome and invited to hang out with both of us in my Facebook community, The Unconventional RD Community on Facebook. It’s free to join. It’s awesome. There’s over 9,000 amazing nutrition and wellness professionals in there, students, interns as well. So don’t be shy. Come hang out, just search for that on Facebook and come join.

And of course, put your email in when you request to join and you will be added to my amazing weekly roundup that I send out every week with a recap of all the best discussions from the Facebook group, a really awesome update of any important online business news that happened every single week (cause we all know the online business world is changing literally day to day) and then of course, notification for my latest podcast episodes and any job opportunities or volunteer opportunities that might’ve been posted in the community. So it’s a really high-value newsletter.

I know you’ll love it. So put it in your email when your request to join the Facebook group and you will easily get added and we’ll keep in touch. So thanks so much guys, and I’ll see you next week.

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Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.