My first year at the Friedman School was a whirlwind.
By the end of it, though, I was starting to feel comfortable and like I had gotten my feet under me. In addition to my coursework, I was working, writing articles for the Friedman Sprout, applying for summer internships, and spending time with new friends.
Over the summer, I completed my internship at a biotech firm in Cambridge called InsideTracker, where I learned the ins outs of nutrition and science marketing, wrote scientific blogs, and created new outreach and revenue processes for the company. I took an online policy class through Friedman. I was asked to be the teaching assistant for Dr. Ed Saltzman’s Micronutrients class in the Fall, so I spent the tail end of summer meeting with him and working on syllabus revisions. I was also offered a position with the Global Dietary Database, a research project at Friedman led by Dean Dariush Mozaffarian. I started as a research assistant in August, prior to beginning my second year in the Master of Science program.
During the Fall of 2019, my class load was lower, but I spent time outside of class as a teaching assistant, where I sat in on classes, met with students, graded assignments and led class discussions. I continued to work part-time at InsideTracker and spent 15 hours a week working with the incredible Global Dietary Database team, where I’ve learned more than I ever dreamed I was capable of about data analysis, modeling and dietary trends across the globe. I also served as the co-editor of the Friedman Sprout, where my fellow editor and I held monthly meetings, planned each monthly issue, wrote a monthly newsletter and edited student articles. I was busy, but I was happy, and I somehow managed to find time for my friends and for myself.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give students at Friedman, it’s to get involved and get interested. Give that thing you’ve always been wondering about a try, even if it scares you.
As I look toward my final semester, I have a lot on the horizon. I’ll be working beside Professor Corby Kummer as a Teaching Assistant for his Writing Well about Food and Nutrition class, one of my favorite courses that I took during my first semester at Friedman. I’ll also be joining Dr. Erin Hennessy on a new maternal health research study at Tufts Medical Center, continuing my work at the GDD, and starting my Didactic Program in Dietetics at Simmons University (a prerequisite for anyone looking to become an RD). I’m looking forward to taking a new class being offered at Friedman called Corporate Social Responsibility in the Food Industry, and exploring other interests through classes like Food Law and Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Check out student groups and talk to your peers- so many of them are doing incredible, fascinating, and groundbreaking work
Three semesters of graduate school are now behind me. The past year and a half have flown by. Looking back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come since starting here last fall, with hardly a clue what I was doing. There have been many challenges along the way; times I’ve felt overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted. But despite there being struggles, I’ve always found someone willing to help and support me, if I just took the time to reach out. If there’s one piece of advice I can give students at Friedman, it’s to get involved and get interested. Give that thing you’ve always been wondering about a try, even if it scares you. Get to know your professors- ask them about their work, about opportunities, and ask for help if you need it. Check out student groups and talk to your peers- so many of them are doing incredible, fascinating, and groundbreaking work. You’ll find your niche if you just put yourself out there a bit.
I’ve loved my time at Friedman, more than I thought I would. It goes by fast, so make sure you take advantage of your time here. While I wish I had more time at Friedman, I also know that Friedman will always be there for me—that the connections and friendships I’ve made will endure. I don’t want grad school to end, but I also can’t wait to see what’s next.
EJ Johnson is a second-year NICBC student and is the co-editor of the Friedman Sprout. You can read her previous article, "Reflections on My First Semester at the Friedman School" here.