Paddl Spotlight: Finding Your Feet in the Health Industry
Health students - Listen up! Joel Feren’s rollercoaster journey to owning his own practice is a great example of how hard work throughout your studies and pursuing a passion are the keys to succeeding at what you love.
1. What did you study at university?
I completed a Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience and Honours at Monash University. I then undertook a Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition at Deakin followed by a Masters in Dietetics at Victoria University.
2. Did you work throughout your studies?
I always had a part time job whilst at Uni. I worked in sales, retail and hospitality while juggling my Uni workload.
3. Was there ever a job / experience you had that you were like, actually, this isn’t for me?
Absolutely! I worked by the art of deduction. I tried a number of different jobs and completed a number of courses before deciding on a career in nutrition and dietetics.
4. What’s the journey that’s brought you to where you are now?
It’s been a rollercoaster! I graduated 3½ years ago now. In my short career so far I’ve started my own business, Hearty Nutrition, where I meet with clients 1–1. I’ve also worked at a football club, in aged care and in corporate health. I’ve been fortunate enough to write articles for The Age (here) and Huffington Post (here) as well as other publications. And I have recently been made a media spokesperson for the Dietitian's Association of Australia. Further, I’m quite active on social media, which has afforded me a number of fun and exciting opportunities in the food industry.
5. When did you fall in love with your industry?
I’ve always had a love of health and food as well as cooking so I’m surprised that it only dawned on me to pursue a career as a dietitian when I turned 24. However, since making that call I haven’t looked back! I’m now 32 and I’m hoping that I can forge a long career in dietetics. The beauty of the profession is that there are so many opportunities for dietitians. So if one job gets stale then I can do something else, but still within dietetics.
6. Did you find it a struggle as a student to apply for jobs after graduating from your studies?
Yes. Unfortunately there were very few jobs offered to new graduates when I completed my studies. So, that spurred me on to start my own private practice. I always knew it would be challenging to find work after graduating so I was prepared to go out on a limb and start my own business.
7. Do you think it’s important for students to have industry-relevant experience before graduating?
Absolutely. I had 40 weeks of practical placement during my final year of my dietetics degree. This allowed me to work in a hospital, community health centre, private practice, industrial kitchen and in a research lab. The breadth of experience I gained during my studies afforded me a number of opportunities so I knew I would be well equipped to work in a number of different areas after graduating.
8. What advice do you have for young people studying in and entering the industry?
Gain as much experience as you can and network like crazy. Go to conferences and meet people in your industry. Consider joining LinkedIn and connect with likeminded people in your field. I have had a number of opportunities thrown my way simply by the connections I have made so I wholeheartedly encourage it.
As you can see, having industry-relevant work experience is really important when graduation time comes around. Paddl is bridging the gap between study and work by connecting students eager to get their foot in the door with Employers. Keen to hear about the health industry from a student’s perspective? Click here.