As an intern, I thought staying quiet and on task was the best thing to do all day to impress my boss and show I was working hard and not procrastinating on Twitter. I learned this can come with a price, and sometimes that price is skipping lunch.
While most people argue that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I like to think that every meal is pretty important and that lunch is a valuable time in the workday. Of course, there will be days when you are so busy that a granola bar will have to do but it is very important not to skip lunch!
At my first internship, I was too nervous to take lunch because I didn’t know where to get food. Could I pack it? Was there a café? Was it okay if I used the fridge? I was worried about how long I could take lunch for (nobody wants to be the intern that is on mysteriously long lunch breaks during peak work hours) and whether it would be disruptive if I ate at my desk.
Despite having many reasons to avoid lunch and trying to make it through 9-5 with just my bottle of water, I was actually hurting my office more than helping it. My initial fears of missing time in the office or being disruptive were attempts at proving I could be a hard worker. Reality check. If I spent the second half of my day trying to calm my rumbling stomach and counting down the minutes until I could find something to eat- I’m not being as productive as I could be if I was full and my brain was able to think clearly.
It is important to take lunch. The actual fuel can help keep up your productivity on work related tasks and will probably make you feel a lot better then if you were dreaming of food. If you are like me and at an unpaid internship, there can be concerns about lunch because you don’t want to buy it everyday. Solution? I carry around a lunch box in my backpack with an ice pack and packed sandwich and snacks. If your office has a fridge or microwave, don’t be afraid to ask to use them! Taking a little break from typing away on the computer to eat lunch or walk to get a coffee helps clear your mind and get creativity flowing.
When I finally let myself accept that lunch was a necessary part to my daily functioning at work, I began to realize the possibilities that came along with the meal. For example, as an intern for the House of Representatives, a lot of briefings presented by Congressmen and organizations like NASA often offer lunch. This was a great opportunity not only to have a free sandwich or slice of pizza, but to get out of the office and learn news about upcoming legislation that I could bring back to the office.
Lunch is also a great time to get to know some staff in your office. I always tried to schedule a lunch or breakfast meeting with alumni from my University or staffers in my office to work on building my network and getting valuable advice. It sets up a great and casual environment to learn from others and ask questions.