Student Center

Finding Your Niche

January 11, 2018   /
Jen Haugen, RDN, LD

No matter where you are in your career, you are going to find yourself at some point considering your career path. Are you are a brand-new dietitian just graduating from your internship? Or perhaps you are a prospective dietitian considering a career in dietetics, or a mid-career dietitian considering your options because you finally have found what you do not want to do. Do not put it off until tomorrow, make time today to really dig down deep inside yourself and discover what excites you the most about your career! Where your passion and excitement intersect with your strengths and talents will be your niche.

Be brave
Finding our niche can take quite a bit of courage: courage to look deep within you: courage to step outside of your comfort zone, courage to do what no one else has done before. But do you find your niche, or does your niche find you? Specializing in one specific nutrition avenue can help you hone in and become a true expert, yet on the other hand, you may not want to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Finding your niche arena can be scary and exhilarating all at the same time; you need courage to find your niche, to stand out, and become unique. Are you ready for an adventure? Here are five ways to help you to find your niche.

Connect your dots
Remember those “connect-the-dot” puzzles you did as a child? You drew a line from dot to dot, at first not knowing what the picture would become, and later, as more dots became connected, the picture became crystal clear. Take a look back over your life and look for connection points, memories that seem to stick out in your mind around a certain theme. Look for patterns within those points. For example, you may have grown up gardening as a family, taken gardening projects to the county fair, then became a master gardener in your state, and started a garden for kids where you teach them how to grow and cook their own food. These types of connection points lead to a niche in gardening and nutrition. 

Know your strengths and where joy lies
Who are you? Take some time to write down all the things you “are” and the gifts and talents you possess. As a professional, it is important to know our gifts and talents within the field we are practicing, and beyond that, we need to use those gifts and talents in a way that brings us the most joy. That joy will become the happiness that will sustain you on when you work within your niche.

Knowing your gifts, talents, and strengths will help you a lot here. Your personality might match well in the clinical realm, where extreme compassion and attention to detail, love of routine, and being a part of a healthcare team is a strong asset. Or, your personality might instead have more in common with that of the supermarket dietitian who loves being able to focus on creativity, being innovative, is outgoing, and has an independent work ethic. You might love what school nutrition positions offer, which includes requiring a skillset of being a constant learner, having a flair for educating others, being an organizer, possessing an ability to scale your thinking to see the bigger picture, as well as being able to push forward despite the challenges. Or, maybe your personality matches more of the entrepreneur, where being adaptable, confident, disciplined, and a self-starter are highly valued.

Ask others the same question
If you are not sure what you are known for or what you are good at, then interview your closest confidantes—people you know and trust—both within your profession as well as outside of your profession. You may be surprised by what you are known for, what your gifts and talents are, and how you are viewed and perceived by others. While we can get caught up in our own perspective, asking someone else can be just the insight we need. 

Dream a little
What would you do if you could do anything? That one thing you are thinking of right now may be related to a niche that is lying right in front of you. Write these dreams down and cut out pictures from magazines that are related to your dream and place them on a vision board. Set it in front of you on your desk. What you focus on will be in the forefront of your thoughts and you will make it happen. 

Get out from behind your desk
It is not enough, however, to create a vision board without actually taking a forward step in the direction you want to go. Leave your desk and experience what opportunities might lie in front of you. If you have the chance, spend time with other dietitians with jobs that intrigue you. Learn more about what they do. Apply for a position that lines up well with the path you are on. Ultimately, it is about the journey and not the destination. You have to have different experiences in order to determine what you really love. 

It is a combination of all these things that will help you find your niche. You will continue to develop and evolve and ultimately grow through every experience you have—and pack a bag of courage to carry with you on your journey. 

Resources and recommended reading

Boss J. Find your niche in 60 minutes or less with these 4 questions. Entrepreneur website. Published September 11, 2015. Accessed January 11, 2017.

Chiuri W. 7 steps to find your niche -- and dare to risk. Forbes website. Published June 6, 2012. Accessed January 11, 2017.

Five steps to attracting what you want in your life. website. Accessed September 26, 2016.

How to find your niche in your career. Levo website. Published November 10, 2014. Accessed January 11, 2017.

Mitchell FB. Making Nutrition Your Business: Private Practice and Beyond. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2011.


Review date: 10/4/16