What To Bring To The Table
A lesson I learned almost immediately occurred when I pulled out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at lunch. The second the sandwich was in plain sight, the attention of the entire table was drawn to me. Confused, I asked “is anyone allergic to peanut butter?” The response was some laughter and then one of my coworkers replied “your lunch is just SO American.” To be honest, I was just very relieved that no one was allergic to peanuts. But it was true, I did stand out, for in Israel they eat big lunches and small dinners so of course my flimsy PB&J sandwich seemed rather odd. However, my sandwich created an entryway into the lunchtime conversation. The rest of that meal was spent in deep discussion about the United States and my life as a New Yorker/College Student.
The lesson I learned from this experience is that lunch is a very critical time. The startup I was interning for was in an accelerator along with a few other startups. At lunch I was provided with the opportunity to network with coworkers from other startups.
Aside from networking from the business standpoint, I was able to use this network as a resource for my time in Israel. For the most part the workers were Israeli and not too far from my age. Thus, I got recommendations for clubs, restaurants, bars, beaches, and places to visit. I learned more about the culture through my conversations with them and I was invited to work on my projects in their offices to get a glimpse of what their companies were doing. Socializing at lunchtime was a pivotal part of my experience because I gained such a large span of knowledge and met such interesting people. If you can, eat lunch with your coworkers at your internship, especially if you are interning in a foreign country. The connections you make at lunch can be almost as important as the internship itself.
**P.S. For the rest of the internship I brought more socially acceptable lunches such as dinner leftovers.