Reflections of a Middle-Aged Intern: The Value of the Lunch Break

crock-spot(Image from Crock Spot website via fair use law)

Over the years, I’ve worked a number of jobs. Full-time jobs. Part-time jobs. Temporary jobs. Seasonal jobs. Looking back, one of the key factors of my most memorable work experiences has been the opportunity to step away from my responsibilities and enjoy a mid-day meal, especially with co-workers. At my ViaSat internship, there was time available to step away from my cubical and eat lunch. Every day there was a different food truck parked outside the Denver office that offered employees a wide variety of food, including fish tacos, Italian cheesestakes, BBQ brisket, and Asian fusion. One of my favorites was a chicken couscous dish served up by Crock Spot (if you live in the Mile High City, please check them out). As an employee perk, ViaSat threw in a $4 voucher. Twice a week, interns got a full voucher! In addition, our departmental team would organize pot lucks to share food and exchange conversation.

Unfortunately, not everyone takes the time to get away from their responsibilities and eat lunch. Too often, people are eating at their desks. In 2015, only 1 in 5 people were getting out of the workplace for lunch. It’s important for one’s mental health to step away from the computer, even for 15 to 20 minutes. Plus, a lunch break is a great time to socialize with coworkers, which can offer both collaboration and networking benefits. Of course, not every job offers an opportunity to leave the building or eat with coworkers. At one point, I had a part-time job at a hotel where the closest restaurant was the in-house sports bar primarily serving fried food. I generally worked alone on a swing shift and oddly, there didn’t seem to be a refrigerator that employees could use to store food from home.

Now that I’m working my new part-time job, I look forward to the food trucks arriving on the Auraria Campus each Monday. Still, I have a tendency to eat at my workstation, but whenever Crock Spot is there, I’ll line up to get my favorite dish.

 

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