We’ve come to it at last, folks. After three years of school, dietetic internship, stress, fun times, and a LOT of food, here we are. Last Thursday, I walked out of Subway‘s world headquarters having finished my dietetics internship and thus all the requirements to become a registered dietitian … save one: I still need to pass the dietetics registration exam later this summer to write “RD” after my name. I’d better get studying!
… Oh, you want to hear about my experiences as a dietetic intern at Subway during my final dietetic rotation? Well, if you wish …
As I hinted in my last post, my internship experiences at Subway have been unlike any I have had thus far. Before I go any further, I just want to say two things: First, pictures and information about Subway will be limited, as anyone who works at the headquarters must sign a statement declaring he or she will not reveal confidential information about the company. As Subway is the largest franchise operation in the world, I’m can see how confidential information could spread quickly without such a statement. Second, I’ve been a huge fan of Subway since I was a little girl ordering the 6″ Italian B.M.T. sandwich at my hometown location, so being able to see how the company runs has been a real treat. As you can guess, I am not an objective observer in this post; rather, I am a nerdy fan. Nevertheless, I will try to present my experiences as objectively as possible :)
Even after years of eating Subway sandwiches (including in China and Bonaire!), I had no idea that the world headquarters was located right here in Milford, Connecticut until I began my dietetics program at the University of Connecticut. After I discovered that Subway‘s corporate dietitian, Lanette Kovachi, is a graduate of my dietetics program, I knew I wanted to work with her. Luckily, the Coordinated Dietetics program at UConn allows us to arrange our own two-week internship. Lanette was kind enough to let me tag around with her. Thanks, Lanette!
Let’s go inside, shall we?
The lobby is enormous and colorful – check out these flags! Each flag represents a country where Subway has restaurants:
These clocks are set to local times at the regional offices around the world:
As soon as you walk into Subway’s headquarters, you can smell fresh-baked bread. Why? Stay tuned!
Lanette met me as soon as I walked in and instantly helped me feel comfortable. After a name tag and a confidentiality statement, I was off to discover corporate life at Subway!
Lanette works in the Research & Development department of Subway, where her job responsibilities are as varied as the field of dietetics. She is constantly up and about, performing duties such as answering nutrition questions from her co-workers and Subway customers, measuring portions of vegetables in Subway meals, updating nutrition and allergy information, keeping up with the latest food trends (internationally, too!), filming videos for both internal and external use, attending meetings about the latest news at Subway, taste-testing potential new products, meeting with outside people, giving quotes to the media, keeping current on the latest in food labeling laws and regulations, etc., etc. As Subway is an international company, labeling laws and nutrition regulations must be current for all 99 countries in which they have restaurants. This job is huge!
I have long admired Subway’s commitment to offering nutritious choices in their stores. Because their stores are so widespread, Subway can provide many people with a healthy, low-cost meal or “quick bite” on the run. How many fast-service restaurants can you say that about? Despite continuing economic troubles, Americans continue to eat out often. In our profit-driven world, Subway stands out in restaurant nutrition and sustainability. In addition, Subway is testing out diabetes-friendly menus and gluten-free products at a few store locations.
Now, back to my internship experience! On my first day, I began learning about the subtleties of menu labeling and nutrition panels.
Who knew nutrition labeling was so complicated? Different countries require different nutrients on their labels, so that Lanette must create many nutrient databases. Add that complication to the fact that countries offer a variety of products (for example, paneer tikka and chicken tandoori in India), that some areas do not eat certain meats, and that nutrient rounding rules vary, and you’ve got an entirely unique dietetics experience.
What else did I do while at Subway? I co-wrote an article for Subway’s website (I’ll let you know when it’s up). I observed Lanette talking with a reporter about the addition of avocado to their sandwich toppings. I posed with bread during a press release photo shoot. I attended meetings (I love going to meetings where we talk about sandwiches!). I gave my cubicle a temporary name plate:
I also worked on diabetic exchanges for the website, as well as tip sheets for people with diabetes or heart disease looking for ideas on how to eat healthy when at a restaurant.
During my internship, I had the opportunity to watch one of Lanette’s filming sessions (I can’t say what the video is for – sorry!). After years of media work, Lanette is a natural in front of the camera:
Seeing the light kit and green screen all set up, I figured I could get a good picture with Lanette. Of course, I didn’t have my actual camera with me at the time – what was I thinking? The videographer, Bruce, was kind enough to take a series of fuzzy portraits with my phone. So, yeah … none of those pictures turned out. However, I liked this outtake photo:
Lanette, you are such a good sport :) Once I get a copy of the press release photo we shot, I’ll post it here. (Edited to add: Here it is!)
[Photo credit: Jeff Glagowski]
From left to right: Me; Mark Christiano, Baking Specialist and Subway’s “Bread Guy”; Lanette.
What was my favorite part of interning at Subway? I ate Subway sandwiches for lunch every day! ( … I’m just kidding about the “favorite part” … or am I? ;) )
Subway headquarters offers breakfast and lunch to their employees every day, so I was able to partake of lunch while I was there. A few of my creations:
Most of the time Lanette and I ate in the test kitchen. I couldn’t take any pictures inside the test kitchen due to confidentiality issues. While hanging out in the kitchen, executive chef Chris let me taste some samples of new products – fun!
Speaking of the test kitchen … on my penultimate day, I was able to participate in an test kitchen taste test! I can’t tell you what I tasted and why; but, I can tell you: Subway is looking out for your taste buds! I’ve learned in classes about how taste tests are carefully designed to avoid testing bias, but this internship is the first time I’ve actually seen these tests in action. In practice … I’ve never examined a food item so closely in my life.
Thanks for a fabulous internship experience, Lanette!
This post completes my series of what life is like as a dietetic student and intern – check out this page for links to my prior dietetic posts about clinical dietetics, food service, community, counseling, etc. As I’ve said many times before: the field of dietetics is tremendously varied.
Off to study for my RD exam! :)
Q: Have you ever eaten at Subway? How often do you eat out?