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Lunch with colleagues (It’s more than eating)

 

Mary is a long time museum professional who works for a state agency. Lindsey has been an historical society director for the past five years. Please “listen in” on our conversation!

Mary
In the 19th century, lunchtime was an important break from the factory floor’s monotony. Remember how, in school, cliques formed around special tables in the lunchroom? And how fights sometimes settled disagreements? And we all know about the dangers of a three- martini lunch, even if we don’t watch Mad Men! Lindsey and I decided that lunching with colleagues is more than just about the food (although we both love good food). It’s about staying in touch, knowing what’s happening with museums like your own and, at its best, mentoring.

Lindsey
As the director of a tiny historical society, I have two very good reasons not to “lunch” outside of the museum. First, I don’t make enough money to afford to eat out. Second, I don’t have any full-time coworkers, so no one is even there to join me for lunch.

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Mary
And Lindsey hasn’t mentioned how busy a single staff member is at a small historical society: basic janitorial tasks (“Hey, lady, the toilet in here is busted!”); school tours that need a guide; and that neighbor who drops by to chat and to show a document “that you might be interested in.” Somehow, taking a lunch break” isn’t on the schedule. One of my favorite small museum tales is from a Pennsylvania museum director. She told me if she wanted to ask for help on  omething she had to look in the mirror.

Lindsey
But when I moved to Maryland to work here, Mary quickly introduced me to the idea of lunching with colleagues. Chatting about one thing or the other led me to realize that lunching with colleagues wasn’t an excuse to get out of the office. It provided a sounding board for those issues you can’t figure out on your own. You’re also connecting with people who can help you do a better job, as well as sharing what’s current in the field. When you’re the only full-time person, you can’t just stick your head around the corner and ask if anyone has read that copy of Museum, or Nina Simon’s latest article.

Mary
So, given your meager salary, lunching with colleagues is actually a good investment?

Lindsey
Definitely! It keeps you sane. And when you work in a small museum, that sanity and that extra perspective is priceless. It gives my organization a little extra “umph,” too. Sharing – and occasionally “stealing” – ideas isn’t a bad thing.

Mary
As a more senior staff member, lunching with colleagues is also a way to hear about job opportunities sometimes before they are announced, and sometimes before you realize that you really are looking for a new challenge (job).

Lindsey
Yes. And in some ways I think it helps to get to know your colleagues in a more informal setting, other than just attending workshops or conferences. You might talk about families or dogs…anything! But of course, as “dog people,” you and I are biased. Getting to know a colleague on a more personal level is valuable. They can especially become a resource when you need something later. You can soften the blow of asking for a favor if you close the email with, “Oh, and how’s Fido doing?”

One Response to “Lunch with colleagues (It’s more than eating)”

  1. February 09, 2016 at 3:23 pm, Lunch with colleagues (It’s more than eating) | Beaufort County Historical Resources Consortium said:

    […] Source: Lunch with colleagues (It’s more than eating) […]

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