Daily Winner for: – 10th August 2013
Name of the intern: – Chaarvi Modi
Institute: – PDPU
Organization interned with: – Network 18’s Moneycontrol.com
Today I can tell you what Goldman Sachs, Berkshire Hathaway and Ben Bernanke are all about. I can understand names like Nikkei and Forex Reserves. I know a little bit about terms like IPO, NYSE, and MCX.
But two months ago when I stood there in the plush reception of Network 18’s Mumbai office in (just a little, I’d like to believe!) gained summer vacation weight and the most uncomfortable pair of heels in the world, I had a feeling I was invisible.
Among the too-busy-to-notice crowd, young and old, milling around on phone conversations and coffee, and smelling of expensive perfume and cigarettes, I felt like my sudden social awkwardness and nervousness would go largely unnoticed by anybody who cared.
Already fifteen minutes late for the first interview (and selection test!) of my life, I sat there on their comfortable sofa in beige and sky blue formals impinged with the hustle-bustle crowd of Mumbai locals, waiting to be summoned by the Executive Editor of Moneycontrol.com. What would he be like in person? He sounded so nice on the phone. What creepy questions would the test have? I was giving it a fluke.
Other doubts loomed in my head too. What will a naive girl with a non-finance background do at an organization that dealt with hardcore stocks, currencies, and Sensex?! Why had I come here then? Because a career in media had been on my mind for years and this was the first media house to have responded promptly. Not once in my life had my curiosity bothered to even flip through those pleasing baby pink pages of business newspapers in libraries or lobbies just to find out what kind of news they contained. Since a child my memory had always associated them to old people and business suits and that impression had stayed on. Boring! In my span of attention, they didn’t even stand out.
To be honest with myself, the only stock related things I had ever seen were the brightly coloured green and red triangles with decimal numbers and capital letters running on the news feed at the bottom of monotonous business news channels. Knowing no more about money flow or market economies or whatever other complicated things they dealt with, I sat wondering anxiously what sort of a job profile they would give me if even by miracle; they’d see something in me. I could only think of one solution- a receptionist? My skin crawled at the thought. No way. If they gave me that, I’d rather Facebook all summer instead.
My editor was finally here, I was escorted inside to his cabin by a security guard. I clearly remember that feeling of being an outsider while walking across my first media house. I drank in the settings of the place, its bright lighting, cheery paint, ringing land-lines, smart young professionals, the ergonomics, and how it all put together successfully intimidated, a college fresher like me. I suddenly missed walking through my immensely green college campus in old jeans and flip flops. It was culturally alienating.
My editor Sameep*, was a tall, thin, no-nonsense man well into his forties. He asked me a few quick general questions to make me feel comfortable while my test was being set-up and I tried my best to answer him with confidence to make a good first impression. When the test was ready, words like NSE, FTSE, BSE Sensex, appreciating rupee, gold, RBI, cement, among other things I was vastly unexposed to, popped up.
The English section, I aced effortlessly. But felt ashamed of not knowing a lot of simpler things I should have known. I couldn’t name three decent Indian cement and oil producing companies. Ads played in my head and I filled in whatever I could knowing that I might never have to come back here again.
Sameep quickly went through my test and to my surprise, asked me to be there next day at 8:30 am sharp. His only rules were simple: no leaves, no half-days, no late coming. The HR head briefed me about payment policy and certificate and I was on my way.
Unaware still of what exactly they wanted out of me, I reached on time the next day and it was a different kind of scenario from the previous day. Not many people had turned out for the morning shift and the lights were dimmer.
Glued to their monitors, the only sounds that filled the silence were the humming of the AC, people typing away furiously, and morning hassle to publish news first. News is such a dynamic sector there is constant pressure to be the first one!
I walked through the empty office reading people’s pin boards along the way. There was a personal touch to each one of them that spoke volumes about those who occupied the seats. Sameep introduced me to the entire department when the publishing pace slowed down a little and everybody had begun to take a break from the hectic schedule.
I didn’t have a PC right away and was given the dreaded task of reading a bunch of those boring pink paged business newspapers until noon, while they set up my PC. I read through slowly trying to grasp the graph lines, the lingo, and the numbers. It made my head heavy the first day.
So at least I was not going to be Facebook-ing for the rest of my break!
With the PC and e-mail set up, I was put into the editing and publishing department. Helpful colleagues explained to me about the news and photo editing software and the news back-end from where I would be “pulling out wire copies” for cleaning and publishing. Sections like PTI, Reuters and AP updated it by the second. I was amazed and started enjoying the idea of reading news stories before the world found out.
Luckily, I had been given a seat next to a man who was an encyclopedia of knowledge in all fields. Over the coming month, I gained a lot of insight into various things from and him and those around me. Without fail, he would ask me a general knowledge question daily and pull my leg in mock seriousness about how little I knew about things like Hewlett-Packard’s CEO, rating agencies and Donald Trump’s empire. He would then patiently explain and laugh about how I would forget about it all the next day.
But without even my realizing, he and everybody else had been successfully inculcating in me the good habits of reading good books and articles and knowing about everything and anything. I was fascinated with the fact that he knew so much about everything- from expensive watches and Jewish photographers to Saudi Arabia’s empty towers and even about the little village that manufactures Ferrari’s trademark red paint; apart from the regular business knowledge of course. I grew self driven to learn.
On the lighter side, there wasn’t one day that no delicious food was passed around the department for everybody to share. In moments of casual banter and chit-chatting over chai, people joked around and the heavy work environment. I would also look forward to getting a break from the monotonous food I ate back at hostel to my mother’s delicious home cooked food during the lunch break.
Soon the break passed, I distributed thank-you sweets to the wonderful little department of Moneycontrol.com and was on the night train back to college excited about all the new things I had learnt, and not just regarding business. I was proud of how the painfully introvert-me had opened up to so many new things within a month’s time. All I felt then was bursting accomplishment.
*Names have been changed to protect identities
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