Alyssa Pike, a 2016 Penn State graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences, currently works as the manager of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council (IFIC) in Washington, D.C. The nonprofit organization distributes science-based information on health, nutrition, and food safety.
In this role, Pike monitors media trends and creates evidence-based content that informs the public on matters of nutrition and food safety. She also develops consumer research surveys to gauge public attitudes toward health and nutrition.
Pike first learned of IFIC while completing her dietetic internship at the University of Maryland. She was matched to this program immediately after completing the nutritional sciences, dietetic option at Penn State. As part of her dietetic internship, she completed a nutrition communications rotation at IFIC and maintained the connection throughout the rest of the internship, which eventually led to the position she now holds.
When Pike accepted the full-time job at IFIC, she had just passed her registered dietician exam and was working part time at an eating disorder outpatient center in Virginia. She enjoyed learning different skills from both opportunities, but eventually shifted all of her focus to improved her nutrition communication skills at IFIC.
“It’s been such a unique opportunity to monitor trends and conduct consumer research to better understand the public’s perception of nutrition, health, food safety, and food production. It’s also been fun to leverage my creative side, writing articles and working on video and social media projects for different audiences,” said Pike. “A lot of jobs in nutrition start in clinical or long-term care, and I was grateful for a nontraditional path.”
Pike says that she was able to make the switch to the business side of the field of nutrition because of the broad and comprehensive education she received while at Penn State. From nutrition and counseling courses to business and management classes focused specifically in nutritional sciences, along with some early courses in English, she felt prepared to take on the unique position with IFIC.
“Be open to new experiences, even if they might seem a little scary, and don’t be afraid to move the needle on what it means to work in the health field.”
— Alyssa Pike, 2016 graduate in nutritional sciences
Penn State also afforded Pike opportunities to develop her leadership and communication skills outside of her major courses. She was the founder and president of the Penn State CHAARG chapter, an organization that builds communities for women through fitness and health events.
She also found insight and support in her professors, especially Shawnee Kelly and Mary Dean Coleman-Kelly, who both acted as mentors and advisers for CHAARG.
Pike has utilized these skills not only in her profession, but in additional roles she holds in her community. She works part time helping to organize weight inclusive nutrition and dietetics events and just started assistant coaching a club volleyball team in northern Virginia.
For Pike, it’s always been important to identify her strengths, whether in the workplace or in her community, and find experiences in which her strengths can shine.
“The landscape of nutrition and health is growing and expanding so rapidly, and dieticians have so many opportunities to work in various areas. Of course, we all start at a different place, with unique dreams, experiences, and goals, but there’s no need to limit yourself to a particular box. Be open to new experiences, even if they might seem a little scary, and don’t be afraid to move the needle on what it means to work in the health field.”