Christina Manian is a 2022 MENV graduate from the Sustainable Food Systems specialization. She currently works as a registered dietitian and freelance food and nutrition writer for groups like Real Simple, Taste of Home, Climbing Magazine, Well and Good, Nutrition Business Journal, Dignity Health, Vitamix, Barton Associates' "Clinician1" and "Clinician Today", and just published her first piece for Better Home and Gardens! In this article, Christina tells us about her background, current work, and shares her advice for current and future students.
What is your academic and professional background?
I have my undergraduate degree in Dietetics from Boston University and did my dietetic internship at the Mayo Clinic. After my internship, I worked in the Intensive Care Unit at the University of Minnesota Medical Center for four years. I rotated through the neuro, medical, cardiac, and surgical ICU where I served as the dietitian for a year. When I moved to Boulder, I started working at a private practice focusing on wellness nutrition and began to teach cooking classes on the side. And from my time in Minnesota until now, I've been freelance writing for groups like Taste of Home, Vitamix, and different clinical-based publications.
Where do you work and how would you describe your role?
I work at about five different places! While I still work at the private practice and teach cooking classes, my primary job is freelance writing, so I work for myself. The majority of my writing is for Well and Good, and Real Simple, and I just started writing for Better Home and Gardens. I've also written for Nutrition Business Journal and done some copywriting for companies like Traditional Medicinals. Most of the writing I do is nutrition-based, and from time to time, I write about sustainability in the food space.
How did you find your current position? Could you speak about your job search process and how it went?
When I moved to Boulder I found this private practice and cold-called the owner. At first, it didn't work out. After about six months, I reached out to the owner again to see if things had changed, and they had so I started working with her. Regarding the cooking classes, I found a job posting, applied, and got the position.
In regards to my freelance writing...I've been writing for a long time and got into that with a high school friend who worked at a content creation company. He asked if I wanted to start writing, which I did! I had a pretty deep writing portfolio. when I graduated from MENV and I knew I wanted to focus my career moving forward on writing. An MENV connection put me in touch with the editors I work with now, and they connected me with other editors. Those network connections are really how it started to spiral to where I am today!
Were there any hard or soft skills you felt you lacked or wished you were stronger in when you started your career after graduate school? (i.e. negotiation skills, a certain certification, leadership skills, etc.)?
Honestly, no (ha!). I'm more informed from a sustainability perspective because of the program. That knowledge, along with the knowledge I had before MENV, set me up well. Since graduation, I've been really working with writing tones and what elements affect my writing (audience, mood, etc). Because nutrition-based writing is so information-driven, I can write about the science and not worry too much about being witty. That's the biggest skill I've had to flex is being more creative to make sure I engage my audiences.
What is something people may not know about you?
I'm really into horses and work as an equine bodyworker, which has been a really fun world to learn more about. For those unfamiliar, human body work include practices like massage, chiropractic, cranial sacral work, and acupuncture. Essentially things you do to engage in self-care at the body level. Every human body work modality you can think of also exists for horses. I focus primarily on massage, craniosacral work, and energy work. You can really go down many rabbit holes, and I plan to keep learning more!
What advice would you give to current and/or future MENV students?
As early as possible, really try to focus on what a real existing career is that you want to do and use the program to support you in getting that job. I (and folks I knew in the program) didn't start to think about it until it was too late or during a stressful time. If you can think about that before it's stressful, that's ideal. I know all the professors and staff tell you to start early but you can also say, "whatever!" and kick that can down the road. It's wise to think about it earlier to save yourself from getting stressed, which is always a good thing for our overall health (even though I didn’t do that, ha).