Free time is a rarity in the Intern World, so it can often be overwhelming when deciding what to do during these mythical times “off.” Should I exercise? Should I catch up on emails? Should I say I’m exercising and emailing but instead indulge in “The Wonder Years” on Netflix to remind myself of Kevin and Winnie’s beautifully tumultuous relationship?!
Slow down. Let’s break down this whole break thing, both the long-term holiday kind and that short-term lunchtime kind, too. Start by getting a grip on your daily lunchtime recesses:
- Depending on your relationship with your coworkers, join them for lunch. Bring a lunch the first week or so, but be prepared to not eat it if your coworkers ask you out to lunch. You may not want to refuse lunch if they’re offering it to you, as it’s important to grab every bonding moment possible in the beginning of an internship.
- Are your coworkers talking about work things? Join in. Are they talking about personal things? Use good judgment and chime in when you feel it’s right. Letting them get to know you can be a good thing, but remember the (Sometimes False) Theory of Similar Attributes. Your supervisor isn’t your BFF, especially in the beginning stages of an internship.
- Read a newspaper. Why? Because my mom says it’s good to know what’s going on in the world.
- Exercise. Just think about how you’ll feel when it’s over and you’ve increased your maximal cardiac output!
- Meet a friend for lunch. There’s no shame in taking a break from all things work and gossiping with a buddy.
Next, prepare for those longer breaks that usually come in between academic semesters or after graduation when the Real World hits you like divorce hit Katy and Russell. BOOM. (Too soon?)
- Relax. Don’t feel guilty for re-charging via a TV marathon. The intellectual value of plowing through all 121 episodes of “LOST” is totally equal to the knowledge you’d gain from learning, say, a new computer program. (That’s so false.)
- Don’t relax. Work. Catch up on those readings and emails to get back on track—or even ahead of things—by the time break is over.
- Read a book related to your field. Knowing a lot about your specific field makes you a stronger candidate for a full-time position.
- Read a book unrelated to your field. Knowing a lot about a lot makes you an even better candidate for that position.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re sleeping and sticking to a healthy eating schedule. After working both in and out of Manhattan, I feel comfortable saying it’s easy—especially in New York City—to get caught in an unhealthy routine. Take breaks, breathe, and be in the moment. I did a lot of research on Pixar to prepare for my internship this month, and the creative team frequently mentioned the importance of enjoying the journey to wherever it is you hope to go. And those guys have made 12 successful feature films and 21 short films, so I’d trust ‘em.
To infinity and beyond!
How have you found yourself using your breaks lately? Let us know in the comments!