Mandy Monaco, MS, RD
What were some of your biggest challenges after graduating that shaped your career?
I had a prospective employer ask me “What are you five weaknesses?” “Five!” I thought to myself. Well, my first weakness is I don’t know how to answer that question, and another weakness is….”brownies”. However, I resisted the urge to purge sarcastic rhetoric and took my time to answer truthfully. This type of interrogation helped me become confident in answering questions on the fly. Many times, a dietitian may be asked to give a presentation last minute and you need to think on your feet.
Another challenge was taking initiative to learn. In my position, I am often called upon to answer questions regarding legal regulations for school foods and reimbursement. If I want to be a successful in school nutrition, I have to keep myself up to date with current legislature and not wait for someone to tell me what the new law is. Don’t wait, educate….yourself.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to those interested in dietetics?
Nutrition is a field rich in possibility. You can shape your career in numerous ways, so choose the nutrition concentration that interests you the most. Start with volunteering for what you are most interested in. If you are interested in school foodservice, volunteer at a school. If fitness excites you, start a fitness program at your college or neighborhood gym. Even the smallest experiences can be that first domino that knocks the rest down and open the doors you desire most.
Are you currently employed, and if so, where?
I am the resident dietitian for Chartwells-Thompson, a pre-k-12 school foodservice. I work out of Washington DC and we cover 107 public schools this year! Many of the children in DC rely on school food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or maybe even snack, so it is very important that we nurture them with proper nutrition and make it fun.