Culinary Nutrition Alums Share Career Advice

Donna McCain ’15 chats with JWU students.

Professionals who understand the link between food and health continue to be in high demand. At a recent forum held on campus, a panel of JWU alumni working as dietitians, sports nutritionists, and research and development chefs gave career advice to students interested in working in the field. 

On the panel were:

  • Thomas Carrig, RD ’08, Health and Wellness Sous Chef at Hilton Head Health
  • Kerri Dotson, RD ’13, Culinary Medicine Educator at Tulane University
  • Thomas Gervasi ’11, Research and Development Innovation Chef with Blount Fine Foods
  • Amorette Mangum, MS ’10, Regional Sales Specialist for Compass Group/Foodbuy
  • Melissa Martland-Kile ’09, Community Nutrition Manager with RI Community Food Bank
  • Logan McCoy ’11, Corporate Chef at Nestlé Professional
  • Donna McCain ’15, Executive Performance Chef at Clemson University
  • Kevin Murray ’16, Executive Performance Chef for the University of Alabama
  • Andrew Schmitt ’07, Director of Technical Services at Raw Seafoods, Inc.

Here are their top tips on how to get ahead in the dietetics and culinary nutrition fields.

Show real interest when you intern. “When I started my internship at Blount, the company made it clear that there wasn’t a job opening, but I kept asking questions of everyone I worked with and showed that I was interested. They ended up creating a position for me.” -Thomas

Make connections — and keep them. “Maintain relationships with everyone you work with. And keep maintaining those relationships, because you never know when you might need them.” -Kerri 

Alumni panelists and students talking after the panel presentation.

Communication is key. “It’s all about who you are as a person. Are you able to communicate with kitchen staff as well as the athletes? Your job is to give the athlete good food, so you need to take care of everything behind the scenes to make sure that happens.” -Donna

"If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room."

Learn another language. “We look for a second language when we’re hiring. It’s especially important if you’re working out in the community.” -Melissa 

Keep clean. “Clean up your social media accounts, because before you show up, people will creep on you.” -Donna

Don’t become stagnant. “If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room. And when you want to move up, you’ll need advocates on your behalf, so nurture your relationships.” -Amorette 

Continue your education. “Get your registered dietitian certification. And get your master’s degree sooner rather than later. Take the GRE now, while your classes are still fresh in your mind. Even if you don’t go for your master’s degree right away, the test will be easier when you’re right out of school. And save your biochemistry notes. Seriously. They’ll be really helpful to study for the Registered Dietitian (RD) exam.” -Kerri


Panelists giving advice and answering students questions.