Life Lessons From Changing Careers

(Updated 11/27/18)

I almost never do this, but I’m going to write a blog post all about myself. There will be no recipes or nutrition tips in this post. Instead, I will tell you about my career change to become a Registered Dietitian (RD) and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

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Becoming a Registered Dietitian can be overwhelming. Natalie Rizzo shares her advice for changing careers to become a Registered Dietitian, including how to start the process and how long it takes! #careerchange #RD2be #RD #nutrition

I used to work in Advertising Sales for major television networks. Why did I choose that career path? Well, it was really just something that I stumbled upon after college, but I never really loved it or felt fulfilled. I spent two years getting acquainted with the world of advertising, and then I spent the next two years figuring out how I could get out of the world of advertising.

When I was 26, I decided that it was time for a change, but what I wanted to do was still a mystery to me. After doing some soul searching and thinking about what I really enjoyed doing, I came up with a career that would let me think about cooking, food and exercise on a daily basis. I wanted to be a Registered Dietitian.

After making that decision, there were so many questions to answer– Where do I start? How will this work? What if I can’t do it? If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably had the same thought and have pondered the same questions. I receive a TON of emails from my readers asking me about changing careers. Rather than write out my entire process, I decided to create this video detailing the schooling and Internship process.

See more about that journey in this new video!

I now work for myself as a media Registered Dietitian. I have written for a variety of national publications, including Runner’s World, SHAPE,, NBC News and many more publications. I work as a paid spokesperson, speaker and recipe developer, and I create content for you guys! In other words, I couldn’t be more thrilled with how my career has progressed!

For those thinking of changing careers, I have some advice. These are things to keep in mind when thinking about taking the leap into a new career:

Be okay with taking risks. I think two of the most stressful points in my life were waiting for Grad school admission and worrying about finding a job. I convinced myself that there was a possibility that both weren’t going to happen (but it all worked out)! But here’s the thing– even if thing didn’t work out, I would figure out a way to keep going. I always kept in mind that changing careers involves a great deal of risk and worry, but the reward is totally worth it!

Networking is key! Networking is so important in any career, but it’s really important when you leave a career behind to start over. Throughout my schooling, I didn’t go to weird networking events and blindly introduce myself to strangers, but I did get to know many different nutrition professionals. I was interested in people’s jobs and asked them questions, and I always took on as many nutrition related side jobs as possible. I did a ton of things for free, but it paid off in the end when I got into a Dietetic Internship and had a network built when I was done with school.

Don’t listen to what others tell you that you have to do. Everyone in my life was very supportive of me changing careers. However, when it came time to figure out what I wanted to do within the field of nutrition, many RD’s told me that I had to go where the jobs were, even if that wasn’t my passion. I absolutely refused to believe this. I networked my butt off to make sure that I had as many opportunities as possible. Be determined to do what you want and don’t let people tell you otherwise!

Realize that your life will be very different than your friends. When I went back to Grad school, my friends all had careers, money, and free time. They were able to go out on dates at night while I was in class or babysitting. I didn’t think about this ahead of time, but I don’t regret my decision. I will eventually have time to do all of those things.

Give it everything you have. Let’s face it, no one ever got anywhere by half-assing it. If you don’t give your new career your all then you will never fully succeed. Know what you want and work your hardest to make it happen!

In the end, the most important thing I learned was to follow my passion. Now I will “never work a day in my life”. As a matter of fact, I followed my passion on three important decisions and I think those were pivotal moments in my career. Watch this video to see what I mean!


  • Reply
    Karen Rizzo
    July 27, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    This is AMAZING!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  • Reply
    July 27, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Awesome blog!!I am a chartered accountant interested in pursuing fitness. just the blog i needed!!

    • Reply
      Nutrition a la Natalie
      July 27, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      I’m so glad you found and like the blog! Hopefully I can help make the possible career change a little easier.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    What a fantastic blog piece- you go girl! That new career sounds so fascinating- I’ve always wanted to work in a cafe that has an emphasis on healthier menu items. I couldn’t agree with your key points more- networking really has helped get me to where I am today! Way to go Natalie!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Oh no! It just deleted my novel of a comment! Anyways, way to go girl! You are spot on in your pointers and I am so jealous of your new gig-how exciting! Can’t wait to hear more as you begin this new journey!

    • Reply
      Nutrition a la Natalie
      July 27, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Thanks so much for reading and the support! It’s been a long road, and I’m excited for the future.

  • Reply
    Be Truly Nourished (@TrulyNourished)
    July 27, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Good for you for going and doing what you love! I had no idea you didn’t start out in nutrition. You are a natural! Good luck with the RD exam (you’ll be fine), and I’m excited to hear about your RD job! 🙂

  • Reply
    July 27, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Congratulations! Becoming an RD is quite a journey- it’s very exciting to write the letters next to your name 🙂 Good luck with your new job.

  • Reply
    Donna Fletcher
    July 28, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a positive message! Just as the seasons change (okay… maybe not so much in Florida!) our own “season” changes all too often as well. Congratulations for not only becoming a RD, but for being brave enough to follow your passion! I know you’ll do great and thanks for all of your advice.

    • Reply
      Nutrition a la Natalie
      July 28, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks for reading Donna! I feel like everyone has been wondering what I’ve been doing the past few years, so I figured I would share. It definitely took some bravery, and I won’t pretend that there weren’t moments of doubt. But I’m glad I did it! Thanks for the kind words!

  • Reply
    Julie @ RDelicious Kitchen
    July 28, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Your new job sounds awesome! Congrats on the career change! The nutrition field has so many door an opportunities to venture into!

  • Reply
    Katie Cavuto
    July 29, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Loved reading this!! Seems like you made a great switch!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    This is really great – I have a similar story and it was 100% worth the risk and effort. Awesome work!

    • Reply
      Nutrition a la Natalie
      July 31, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Thank you! I love blogging because I get to e-meet other Nutrition professionals who are as passionate as I am. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    Just discovered your blog. I’m a second career dietitian as well. And you’re right. Be ok with taking risks and do what you love. I need to write a similar post about my career change.

    • Reply
      Nutrition a la Natalie
      July 31, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      Yes definitely! I think it’s a great career to be in. I’m happy you enjoyed and can relate with the post. You should definitely share the lessons you’ve learned with your readers.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @NourishedSimply
    August 1, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Good luck with your new job!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Jessica Levinson (@jlevinsonrd)
    September 22, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    congrats on the new job – it sounds like an awesome and super fun opportunity!

    • Reply
      Nutrition a la Natalie
      September 28, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you!!! Becoming an RD has been such a crazy ride, but I wouldn’t change it.

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  • Reply
    September 28, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    So glad I saw this post, boy can I relate. “Your life will be very different from your friends” … um yes. 🙂
    Really great words of wisdom here, thanks!

    • Reply
      Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
      September 28, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      You’re welcome! It sucks going through it, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise.

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  • Reply
    Abby McD
    March 14, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    I know I’m late to this post but I have been scowering the internet for a post like this.

    I am currently 24 and 2 years into my first ‘real job’ in sales. I know this isn’t my lifelong career. I fell into very similar to your advertising sales prostitution. I would LOVE to change careers and get into nutrition/dietician.

    How did you start? What were the first few steps to tackle the feeling of being overwhelmed?

    • Reply
      Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
      March 15, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Thanks for reading. I just started by going to information sessions at schools and researching all the classes I needed to take. Eventually I quit my job and just started taking Chem and intro to nutrition. Eventually it all worked out!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Hi Natalie! Thank you for sharing your experience. I too am looking to change careers and want to follow my passion to become an RD 🙂 It seems so overwhelming when examining the options for school.

    For your Masters, did you complete a Didactic or Coordinated Program – and did you have to move away for school? I have read that Coordinated Programs are best for getting your internship, but there are more Didactic Programs available in my state. Ahh so stressful!

    • Reply
      Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
      November 1, 2017 at 7:53 pm

      Hi Morgan. Thats for reading! I did a Didactic program because I think that was all that was available in my area. I live in NYC was not willing to leave for school, so I didn’t move away. From what I understand, if you go to a school that has a Masters and a DI and you do well in the classes, you are likely to get into the Dietetic Internship. I know how stressful it can be, but it tends to work out for people who are super motivated and driven to change careers. Just stay positive, and know that it’s the best decision I ever made!

  • Reply
    August 23, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    I am glad I found this! I, like you, have been pursuing sales and ads….I’m 28 and after much consideration have decided to also follow my passion and study to become an RD. I’m terribly nervous about such a change in direction as I’ve gotten quite far along in digital marketing… but, it’s so incredibly unfulfilling to my soul. I am happy to hear success stories.

    • Reply
      Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
      August 24, 2018 at 9:56 am

      I think you will love it! There are a ton of career changers into the nutrition field, and it’s all worth it in the end. Good luck with everything!

  • Reply
    October 12, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks for the info! I was wondering…when you quit your job to become an RD, how did you afford school and not working full time? Did you work on the weekends? I’m really considering this but worried about costs.

    • Reply
      Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
      October 12, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      You’re welcome, and thanks for reading! I’ve actually always been a really good saver, so I had a good size bank account. My full-time job let me work part-time at first and when that became too much, I took on some babysitting instead. I babysat about 15- 20 hours/week throughout all of my schooling

  • Reply
    December 28, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Natalie,
    Thank you so much for this inspiring and detailed post! Like so many others who have posted in response, I am considering a career change to become an RD. I would be starting from square one in terms in sciences classes like you, however I am 34 and daunted at the prospect of starting a new career at nearly or after 40. Did you have any older students in any of your programs? In your opinion, will age make it more difficult to get an internship? I think the maturity and experience I bring to the table will help me be successful academically, but I worry that I will be at a disadvantage if there is a perception I’m too “old” to be starting out in a new field.

    • Reply
      Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
      December 29, 2018 at 10:05 am

      Hi Lydia! I don’t think age is a factor. One of my best friends in grad school was a lawyer in her first career, went back to school to become an RD and graduated when she was 45. Many of my classmates were in their 30s and 40s. For me personally, being older has helped me excel my career! And I think that the acceptance committees for school and internships like seeing that you have previous life experience. Go for it! Good luck!

      • Reply
        December 31, 2018 at 5:34 pm

        Thank you so much for the encouragement!! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 26, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Hi Natalie,

    I just saw this post and am so thankful for it as I am seriously considering going back to school to become an RD as a second career. You mentioned that you took your masters? Did you take your BA undergrad in Science first? I also have a full time job in the communications field and would have to complete my program through online courses. I’m so nervous to go back into debt for school!

    Thanks for sharing this post!


    • Reply
      Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
      March 6, 2019 at 9:58 am

      Hi Shannon. My first degree was a BA in History, so I did not have any science courses. I had to go back to undergrad for a year before applying for the Masters. I actually chatted all about it in the video in this post, so you should definitely watch that and let me know if you have anymore questions. Thanks for reading!

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