Mariana’s love of food and nutrition led her to a role with Spoon Guru, an app that helps people make informed choices about what they’re eating. She tells us what skills you need if you want to become a nutritionist.
Name: Marianna Ragoussis
Company: Spoon Guru
Industry: Food / health
What is your job? Nutritionist
How long have you been doing this job? Around one year
University: Oxford Brookes University
Degree subject: BSc Nutrition
A-levels: Food technology, Information and communications technology, Art, Business studies
1. What was your very first job?
I’m quite new to the industry as I graduated last year, so this is my first nutrition-related job. I was really excited to go straight into a nutrition role at Spoon Guru. While I was studying at university I took a summer internship as a research assistant, and before that I interned in a number of companies.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
To be honest, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Even when I finished school I was unsure, but I knew that I enjoyed learning about food and nutrition (I took a food technology class), and I wanted to explore this subject more. So I went on to do a degree in nutrition.
3. How did you find out about the industry?
I found out about the industry when I was relatively young, and as I started to become more interested in my last year of school I decided to start searching for food and nutrition degrees. It was one of my university lecturers who introduced me to Spoon Guru; I immediately thought that it was perfect fit for me.
4. How did you get there?
It was great that my degree not only focussed on the clinical side of nutrition but also explored what goes on in the food industry. I tried to be as pro-active as possible during my studies, for example, became the president of the OBU Nutrition Society, as well as doing work experience in hospitals and manufacturers, such as Bakels.
I also believe that my dissertation at university helped me a great deal as it involved personalised diets, which fitted well with Spoon Guru’s motive of helping customers make accurate food choices tailored to their individual needs.
5. What is a typical day like?
I focus largely on allergies, intolerances and lifestyle diets (which I find really interesting) while also researching nutrition labelling regulations in the UK and internationally.
On a day-to-day basis, the nutrition team helps to develop the company’s database and maintain the accuracy of the information on the app and corporate business-to-business packages.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing is being able to put into practice what I’ve learnt at university, and the continual development of my nutrition knowledge. I work in a very friendly environment with lovely people, so I really enjoy the teamwork.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The time pressures. Sometimes we are given projects that need to be completed in a matter of days. In these situations good communication and teamwork are essential.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
Gain as much experience as you can and work hard at university, as this really pays off. Develop good teamworking skills, and have confidence in your own abilities. Another element that helped me land this job is the fact my thesis was relevant to the role.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
I think it would have been helpful to know more people in the nutrition industry and perhaps have a mentor; this way I could have been able to get as much advice as possible.
10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
In five years’ time I would love to be managing my own nutrition team!
If Marianna's role sounds perfect to you, here's a step-by-step guide on how to become a nutritionist.
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