Today, that is Tuesday, June 15, 2010, marks the end of my first year at ZS Associates. It definitely has been an eventful year, with substantial ups and downs throughout the year. Fresh from school, bubbling with explicit energy, I flew to Pune for a tantalizing impressive yet expected fortnight of the orientation program. The first week was spent in a comfortable hotel at the heart of Pune, listening to the again impressive line of top-notch managers in the company as speakers, who inspired to deceive.
The second week was a more in-the-office setup of training sessions where, apart from several sessions on Excel, SAS etc., I was introduced to my project, MarketLive, and its members. There was just one more new joinee in MarketLive, and our detailed ramp-up to the project was done over the course of the next couple of weeks, however, the first amazing news told to us was that we should get our travel documents ready as we would be flying to New York soon. It got us excited and we rushed over the trainings and ad-hoc work in the next couple of weeks before taking off.
Within a month of joining my first job, I had flown to New York; the dreamland of many-an-Indian. Having an amazing apartment right in the heart of Manhattan was the perfect excuse to live a luxurious life, for the first time, trying to enjoy my new found freedom, especially on the financial front. And that’s what I did – enjoyed at every opportunity possible, especially when you have cousins-your-age in the same region. Throughout the week, I would fine-tune the weekend plans, and then party hard over the weekend.
However, my project peer, with whom I arrived, was a fighter. He worked hard, did not spend much time on face-book and other stupid stuff on Internet, and was making the right contacts and progress. While I was partying and getting my shoulders broken in ways I didn’t remember the next day, he was working hard. It’s not that I was lagging behind or anything – I obviously did my part religiously, however, the extra bit as they call it was missing. And then gradually it struck me – it is not college anymore, though by that time we were making our plans to come back to India and that is where I picked up speed. I started giving that extra bit because of which I created a new interface for our excel tool. It was highly appreciated and is now used by all project teams in MarketLive 🙂
Anyways, soon I started on my own client project, which was interesting and challenging right from its stiff timelines, vague data sets to the huge demanding expectations from the client. We, a team of 5, all worked hard, faced tough hurdles, but we got through it all – including working up to 18 hours that would involve exciting brainstorming sessions. It gave me a stimulating platform to learn, grow and also contribute. Some of the stuff we came up during that project in seriously challenging environment still amazes me.
Gradually, I started to even contribute to the practice area as a whole, and helped it grow. The next project was again interesting, challenging and a huge learning opportunity. Though it was a longer five month project, the hurdles were several and trickier to solve. But thankfully, the client was very understanding and there were no harsh deadlines. After that, I have been working to expand the practice area in a new direction that could possibly create several new opportunities for us – but it is still dawn and the several hours of hot burning sun need to be still borne in an air-conditioned environment.
More importantly what I wanted to express was the way in which the gone-by year has helped me grow, both professionally and personally.
Professionally, the last year is all what has made me a professional in whichever sense of the word you want to understand. Though your approach to work and ability to work in teams is something I believe we start off with and then gradually build up on, but it is the immense significance of delivery of results, its quality, and very importantly, task and project management that immediately strikes you in work-life.
Personally, I find it simply amazing how work experience molds your perspective in so many different ways. It seems like I was just a school kid when I visited US last summer; trying to enjoy my new freedom. I was not mature then and still a far cry from it, but work-life gives you a perspective of life that actually makes you want to stand up and be counted in the scheme of things.
It has been a good one year, I can’t say great because of lack of certain opportunities I still await, but the people here in ZS are wonderful and a special thanks to all the people I have worked with who have not only given me the energy and motivation to stir my rusted brain and put it to some good use, ever so slight that might have been, but also patiently listened to all my rants and cribs and cheered me up. I have met people with whom I want to be in touch for rest of my life, and that I believe is something to party to on my first year at ZS! Cheers!!!