USA Today honoree Katie Hamm creates dietetics internship site
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Katie Hamm, who has been named to the All-USA College Academic Honorable Mention team for 2009, created a web site to help dietetics students find internships.
When putting together the business plan, Hamm found that each year about 4,000 dietetics students are searching for accredited internships; 250 programs offer about 2,500 internships. Students must complete a yearlong accredited internship before taking the exam to become a registered dietitian.
Her work as a student entrepreneur is only one of the reasons USA Today selected the senior. All-USA College Academic Team honors the "best of the best" undergraduate academic all-stars from across the nation. The team recognizes college students who not only excel in scholarship but also extend their intellectual abilities beyond the classroom to benefit society.
The announcement will be in the April 29 edition of newspaper.
Saw glaring need
When Hamm searched online for internships in dietetics, "nothing was consistent from one Web site to another, and you had to look all over to find anything," she said.
Hamm joined Jenny Westerkamp, now a dietetics graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to create the web site, All Access Internships.
The two got acquainted when Westerkamp contacted the K-State student after reading an article Hamm wrote about internships for a dietetics newsletter.
Hamm began working on the site in fall 2007 as part of K-State's Venture Creation Circles, an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship class. As of March, the site had more than 1,700 users.
Helps match student and program
She said it was important for All Access Internships to allow students to search for internships that fit their needs, which might include part-time or distance options.
"You want a match that's good for the student and the program," Hamm said.
The site allows members to search profiles of internship programs, read testimonials from previous interns and manage the application process. By selecting favorites, members get a personalized application checklist. They also can see which programs rank highly on testimonials and get a feel for how competitive a program might be.
The site also includes an e-mail list where members can meet and ask questions, Hamm said.
"When applications were due in February, it was exceptionally active," she said. "People were asking each other questions like whether to single-space or double-space an application."
Developed a business plan
In addition to developing a business plan, the co-founders filed to become a limited liability company and procured advertising for the site. Hamm said that so far the advertising on All Access Internships has been done in exchange for offering links to the Web site or other perks, such as inviting Hamm to participate in a Webinar to talk about the site.
In this way, she said, the creators have been able to use appropriate advertisements. With programs that feed ads to Web sites based on key words, Hamm said they could have ended up with ads promising drastic weight loss and fad diets, giving users the wrong impression.
"Even as students, we've tried to be as professional as we can," Hamm said. "I've learned a lot about maintaining professional relationships with people."
She said it was hard to get internship programs to join the Web site before it took shape. Now, she's hearing that students show up to interviews with information about the program that they've printed from the Web site. One director said that since the program was on All Access Internships it had received twice as many applications as before.
"We've also brought more attention to smaller programs through testimonials -- it's what people want to see," Hamm said. "I've noticed a lot more of the program directors are really excited about the site."
Prepared by Erinn Barcomb-Peterson and Jane P. Marshall.