Mahesh Rajamani talks about his experience interning at Cracker & Rush.
I did not know what to expect at the beginning of my two-month internship at Cracker & Rush.
Having worked in various companies, hearing about the work lives of friends and seeing the portrayal of office life in movies, the general associations that came to mind were of just another nose-to-the-grindstone desk job at just another company, everyday colleagues and the usual small talk.
Without beating around the bush, let me tell you that none of the scenarios listed above are remotely close to what happens in the Cracker & Rush office.
On my first day here, I was a bit nervous. I was eager to work, gel with the new colleagues and impress the boss – all the normal things a new intern would feel. It turned out to be a fairly uneventful day, since my colleagues had just been made aware that a new intern had joined the ranks. A few perfunctory introductions later, everyone settled into their work, interspersed by a joke or two.
Being a cozy office space with everyone – bar the two bosses – working in a single room, I was very aware of the fact that I was a new element. A feeling that was evidently not shared by the others, given the number of inside jokes, conversations (work-related and otherwise), and leg-pulling that occurred – sometimes even at my expense! Not to say that I was picked on, but that my fellow worker bees had decided – for better or worse – not to refrain from administering the same treatment on me that they did on everyone else.
I admit that at first, it was something that required getting used to. Over time… well, it’s still something that you don’t get completely used to – not in two months anyway. Now though, I mostly laugh with them and sometimes, even chance a joke or two of my own!
My fellow worker bees referred to me only as ‘intern,’ and soon, the running joke in office became ‘an intern has no name.’ Till date, I can count on my fingers the number of times I have been called by my name. I even began signing off emails with ‘Regards, Intern’ to play along.
My first week here, I realised that lunch at Cracker & Rush is an event in itself. When the clock strikes 1, a voice invariably shouts out “Lunch!” The hungry workers file into the dining room to form a familial gathering at the table, where food and conversations are shared in equal measure. I quickly learnt that any food brought must be emptied into an individual plate as soon as possible if you want to eat well.
After my first few days here, word had spread that “The intern gets tasty food.” Lesson learnt. I began to pack more food, and always reached the kitchen first to unpack my lunch and ensure that a decent helping reached my plate.
There is no formality at Cracker & Rush, and even less political correctness. Again, while this may sound like a negative statement, I assure you, it’s quite the opposite. The bosses are addressed by their first names and engage in friendly conversation with their “employees.” This is probably the one thing that took me the longest to get used to. Raised to always be formal with my elders, I found it surreal to address my boss, Mr. Ashutosh Wakankar, as just “Ashutosh.”
I recall an instance when I was speaking to Mr. Ashutosh (still not used to it) and ended the conversation with an “Okay, sir.” He looked at me unsmilingly and said, “Don’t call me ‘sir’,” immediately followed by a wide, playful grin. This happened on my second day here, so I couldn’t really stop being formal cold turkey. I did gradually relax my formal standards, though only to a small extent with Mr. Ashutosh.
Over the course of my internship, I was given access to a smorgasbord of opportunities. I sat in on multiple meetings with clients, and learnt first-hand the intricacies of brand implementation and how to engage with clients. I was even asked for my own input! I make big of this since I am a mere intern here, a role which, in any other company, would not get me half as much responsibility or exposure.
Most of my days at Cracker & Rush were spent doing lots of secondary research, compiling reports, and constructing wireframes and sitemaps of clients’ potential websites. While it may not be work with a lot of flash, I learned a great deal to add to my existing marketing knowledge. I even gained insight into design, one of Cracker & Rush’s core competencies, and the procedures that allow brand strategy and design to harmonise and culminate in a colourful tango.
I came into this internship expecting nothing more than a typical 9 to 5 desk job where I was given a lot of mundane work with minimal learning, but after my first meeting with Mr. Ashutosh, and the subsequent first week of working here, I found my foot firmly lodged in my mouth.
The most apt way to sum up the Cracker & Rush work philosophy is “Work Hard. Play Hard. Rinse. Repeat.