Marcus O’Neill: Dietitian and….Magazine Editor?


I got the call (or rather the email) yesterday.  I’ve been offered a position as Media and Communications Coordinator at the Community Services Association (CSA) here in Maadi.  What does this mean?  Well, my primary responsibilities will be related to their monthly magazine – Oasis.  If you recall, I’ve been writing nutrition articles for them for the past few months.  In my new role, I’ll be more or less acting as magazine’s editor, coordinating and editing content.  I’ll also be producing regular newsletters, posters and any other media/communications required by the CSA.

I suppose this requires a bit of an explanation.  As a trained dietitian, becoming the media and communications coordinator for a local organization wasn’t exactly the job I was expecting to find when we decided to move here.  But upon submitting my most recent article (Iron Woman) the current coordinator mentioned that she’d be leaving her position soon and suggested that I apply.  Apparently, I’m the only one who she doesn’t have to chase after to get their articles in on time and that she felt I’d make a great fit.  Finally, my tendencies towards hyper-organizing everything are leading to something other than annoying my wife!

At first I was a little taken aback.  Why me exactly?  She obviously knew I was a dietitian as I’d been sending her nutrition articles for the past few months.  Then the more I thought about it, the more I really started to like the idea.  Not only will this position give me the opportunity to gain more experience in the realm of writing and publication (something I’ve been enjoying a lot since moving here), but now I’ll also have the power to veto and/or edit bullshit non-evidenced based articles about health and nutrition.  As you know this is one of my biggest pet peeves, so the fact that I’ll have the ability to ensure the public is getting health advice that is based on sound evidence is exciting.   It sounds as though a big part of the job is simply staying on top of things and nagging people to get their articles in.  I think I can do that.

So last week I met with the current coordinator and she introduced me to the CSA’s general manager and executive director.  Again, somewhat to my surprise, they seemed quite keen on bringing me on board.  In some ways it felt more like I was being recruited rather than being interviewed.  Salaries are low here compared to Canada, so they definitely wanted me to know of the other perks the job offered (ie. discounts for programs/on-site shopping, free gym access, atmosphere, etc…).

And the other thing they’re quite open to me doing is offering nutrition services at the CSA.  It turns out they hired another nutrition consultant before Christmas but since she’s only available 1-2 days a week, there’s more than enough room for me to do one-on-one counselling and/or group talks as well.  Pretty cool, right?

It sounds like I’ll be starting later this month, so I’ll be able to see how they put the finishing touches on March’s issue.  The current coordinator will be around until the end of March, so she’ll also help with training for April’s issue.  To be honest, it’s a huge relief that she’ll be around to show me the ropes those first couple of issues.

In regards to the other projects I’ve been working on, I expect I’ll continue writing regular articles for Cairo West Magazine.  A new article for February’s issue should be out in the next couple of days (I’ll post a link on the blog when it’s available).  And it’s always possible that private counselling opportunities will arise outside of the CSA (I actually have a strong lead on this too.  Stay tuned for updates).  When you add that to the 30+ hrs/week I’ll be putting in in this new job, it sounds like I’ll be pretty busy.  But, by no means am I complaining.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever been as excited for a new job.  Especially considering it only pays $5.00/hr :-)….



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