Today we are excited to share the continued education experience of Allison Yoder, MA, RD, LD. A Health and Wellness Supervisor for Hy-Vee, Inc. where she plays an integral role in the development of strategic health and wellness promotions. Allison shares her experience with her continued education, working while studying, and how she navigated Hy-Vee’s tuition assistance program.
How did you come to the decision to continue to pursue your education?
Furthering my education has always been a lifelong goal. Following my dietetic internship program, I wasn’t quite sure with the direction I wanted to take in regards to selecting a degree program, and decided that completing my dietetic registration exam and working as a Registered Dietitian may help shape where my interests within the profession lie. After working for a year, I researched and found a Master’s program that focused exactly on where I envisioned my career path leading 5-10 years down the road. The Masters program had a focus on health promotion, which complemented my current experience as a registered dietitian and would allow me to further pursue employee wellness opportunities as a retail dietitian.
Can you tell us a little about your experience going back to school while working for Hy-Vee?
I absolutely loved my job, and wasn’t ready to make a change, so decided that I would continue to work full-time as a Registered Dietitian for Hy-Vee while pursuing my degree program part-time. Balancing work with classes took a lot of organization, dedication and sacrifice. Since my degree program was offered as distance education through an accredited university, I was able to attend classes as my schedule allowed, and complete assignments with deadlines set by myself and my professor. It took me three and a half years to obtain my Masters degree, but it is an achievement I couldn’t be more proud of.
What were some steps you took to leverage Hy-Vee’s tuition assistance program?
With the encouragement from my store’s human resource manager, I was given a brochure on Hy-Vee’s tuition assistance benefit for eligible employees, and filled out an application to be considered for the program.
What does the program entail?
The program that I participated in provided monetary assistance on college tuition fees for eligible employees. An application process to determine relevance of the program with my current job position was completed, approval from my store director was necessary, and a passing grade point average was required.
How did you benefit from the program?
Since I was able to continue working full-time while going to school, along with the assistance of Hy-Vee’s tuition program, the financial burden of college tuition was manageable. In addition, since my job duties and class assignments were relevant, I was able to apply real life scenarios into my coursework (and vice versa with wellness programming within the retail setting), providing a much deeper understanding of the concepts that I was learning.
How did your job responsibilities change as a result of your continued education?
As luck should have it, following graduation, there was an opening for Health and Wellness Supervisor within Hy-Vee’s corporate office. While having an advanced degree was not a requirement of the job description, my experience with completing a Master's degree while working full time showed dedication and ownership, two of the fundamentals Hy-Vee employees strive to achieve. I was offered the supervisor position in January 2010.
What would you recommend to retail dietitians who want to continue to pursue their education but might not know where to start?
My advice to others pursuing a similar path would be to choose a career that you are passionate about! Take time to develop what interests you the most in your profession, and research education opportunities that will allow you the opportunity to further pursue those interests, whether it be through continuing education opportunities, certificate programs or a degree.
Click here for Allison’s previous RDBA close up.