A Year of Work Experience

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!!!

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The Conflict


I


Swiping his perspiring forehead, Rohan nervously pressed ‘Enter’.


‘Access Granted’ flashed on the screen. He let out a sigh and proceeded to finish the task at hand. A whirring noise broke the eerie silence in the laboratory, as the four pages with the test questions inked across them, slipped out of the printer.


Clutching the valuable contents, he hurried cautiously across the lawns on way to his dorm.

II

The authorities had been alarmed of the leak five days ago and several students were being questioned. The rumor had it that the perpetrator was an outsider; a certain friend of a student and the authorities now had narrowed the list of suspects to only a handful of students.

Shaken by the rumors, Rohan paced his way to the dorm, recounting the fateful day. It was almost a month back when Rohan and Sameer were, as usual on a Sunday evening, competing in a game of pool. The discussion had veered towards the last term at school and the uneasy possibility of Sameer not being able make the pass grade in the ‘Data Analysis’ class.


Surprising Rohan, Sameer had suggested the idea of burrowing into Mr. Daman’s machine to sneak out the test paper. The idea seemed outrageous at first; however, in the ensuing days, Sameer had managed to convince Rohan, who was the sole trust-worthy person to perform the geeky felony. It would forge their friendship forever, Sameer had persuaded.


Now reflecting back, Rohan cringed uncomfortably at his own idiocy. Cursing those senseless moments under his breath, he realized the terrible repercussions of being caught. The dogged effort put in during the four years at school would come to naught. There had to be a way to escape.


Practically running into the dorm, the squinting eyes of the gatekeeper followed him.


“Hello there young man,” cried the gatekeeper, as Rohan’s heart skipped a beat before he abruptly stopped in his footsteps.


“I have a notice for you. The Dean would like to see you first thing tomorrow morning”


Rohan grabbed the notice and walked away.


III


The fuzzy late-night thoughts failed to comprehend the sword of dilemma faced by him. He had been a good student – diligent and hardworking. His passion for technology pushed him forward, though it was his friends and good times at school that he cherished most. However, carrying a tainted reputation without a graduate degree, even family and friends would distance themselves, and life would become hell. How could he save his own skin was the only question in mind.


The cluttered mind tried to retrace those dark moments. As planned, he had used Sameer’s login to sneak out the papers and there was practically no trace of his own involvement. Could he betray his friendship and portray Sameer as the miscreant, the sole doer of the crime?


The squall of disturbing thoughts swarming his mind never subsided. He uneasily slunk in and out of sleep when a loud bang on the door woke him up. It was time.


With a muddled mind but prepared to twist his way out of trouble, Rohan ambled into the office of the Dean. He softly knocked on the door.


“Come in,” a firm voice called him inside.


A bead of sweat trickled down as he greeted the Dean, “Good morning, Mr. Sen”


“Oh, good morning, Rohan,” exclaimed the Dean, “thanks for coming in.”


Rohan was taken aback by the pleasant tone as the Dean continued, “I am sorry. Your name had come up during the inquiry; however, it’s now over. Sameer has confessed.”


“S…Sameer?”


“Right! Sameer came into my office earlier in the morning to confess his guilt and informed us that there was no one else involved whatsoever.”


A tear rolled down his face.