Thursday, January 30, 2014

Week 4: It all started in a bar...

It was mid-August, and I was three weeks away from taking off to spend fall semester in Italy. Life was filled with suitcases and “goodbye-for-nows.” I was invited by a couple of my professors for dinner at Patrick’s Bar and Restaurant, a community staple in the tiny town of Saint Peter, Minnesota. I remember sitting at the table, casually eating a burger and fries when my professor said: “Mariah, we have a proposal for you. There’s an alum from Gustavus named Siddarth Selvaraj. He’s looking to start an internship program in January at his media production house. How do you feel about going to India?” The next day, I called my parents with one simple message: “I’m excited – please don’t say no.” After some parental coaxing, a semester abroad, and a mad rush to obtain a visa, I found myself stepping out into the sunshine at the Bangalore airport. It has been a busy, intense, exciting month... and it’s hard to believe that it is coming to an end!

The crew!
This week, I filmed videos of my colleagues for Meet the Staff Mondays, a series that allows you to get to know more about Studio 33’s team each week. Stay tuned – the videos will be coming soon to our Facebook page! My incredibly camera-shy colleagues (who would much rather hold the camera) squirmed and giggled throughout their videos. As I laughed along with them, it hit me that when the work day begins on Friday, I won’t be with this team anymore. There will be no Avinash asking who wants coffee, no Sid directing office traffic like a wiz, no Tanya offering me helpful feedback on my work, no Pranab and Subhankar to coach me through new editing techniques, no Ajay fixing things left and right, and no Bailey sleeping soundly on a bean bag.
I know without a doubt that I will miss the bright walls of this office and the team that makes Studio 33 great. They’re a rare bunch – humble, genuine, hardworking, collaborative, and unfailingly kind. They provided a safe place for me to make mistakes, whether I was improperly using editing software or incorrectly eating with my hands. As I pack up my bags and take off tomorrow, I know that I will be leaving with the tools to be a better person and a better employee. I am so grateful that a crazy dream born in a sleepy Minnesota bar turned into an unforgettable month!

Thank you, Studio 33, and thank you for following along with my journey this month!

And the true colors come out!



Friday, January 24, 2014

Week 3: Food for thought

Greetings, and welcome to the end of week three! This week saw the completion of some huge projects, the beginning of several new ones, and as usual – many long work days. At first, I wondered how the team consistently works with such intensity, but I soon learned their two-pronged secret to success – good attitude and good food.

Good attitude
Tight deadlines, troublesome technology, day long power outages that back-up power couldn't handle… there are plenty of potential stressors at Studio 33. Road bumps like this would rattle anybody. However, I have yet to see panic, tears, or anger from this crew. Even when their entire fleet of computers crashed after the back-up power gave out (true story), they shrugged their shoulders and proceeded to amicably share the one functioning laptop. They’re a laidback bunch, and their flexibility and sense of humor make them successful in a field that can be very high pressure.
Good food
That being said, I firmly believe that good attitudes around here are significantly bolstered by good food. It’s an integral part of Studio 33’s supportive work community. 

Our lunch commander-in-chief, Pranab, is on the far left
We eat lunch together every day, and Pranab is 100% our commander-in-chief of lunch. Without his daily ordering routine, I’m fairly certain that we would all mindlessly forget to eat. He also earns major brownie points for always remembering to order me an omelet without chilies. I’ve loved having lunch as a time to joke around, ask questions, and stun my colleagues by comparing the temperature on our sunny terrace to the temperature in Minnesota.

On Thursday, we celebrated Tanya’s second anniversary with Studio 33. And how does one celebrate properly? With ice cream of course! Tanya is one of the hardest working people I have ever met and has been an invaluable resource for me. I loved that we had the chance to celebrate her dedication to this company. In addition, I got to expand my ice cream horizons beyond the classic American realm of chocolate and vanilla (fig and honey skyrocketed its way into my ice cream favorites).

Beer and Kebab Friday!
When Fridays roll around, we kick back with beer and kebabs and reflect on our week. It sounds like such a simple tradition, but it’s wildly popular around the office. I’ve also noticed that when any employee stays late for work – food is always provided for them.

Good attitude and good food. They make this media production house go round!
Wishing you a pleasant weekend from Studio 33 :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Week 2: The team that queues together, sticks together!

Avinash hard at work.
And just like that, another Friday has rolled around! My week began with a jaunt behind the scenes of a corporate shoot. With my camera in tow, I documented Sid and Avinash in action. Sid cheerfully instructed the client: “Three, two, one, energy UP, action!” Count on Sid to inspire energy from most any client. I’m fairly certain that if he really needed to, he could convince our office dog, Bailey, to deliver a proper voice-over. Avinash, the man delivering the vision, quietly and expertly works the cameras. He also makes a mean cup of coffee back at the office.

Subhankar - our hero of the week!
Our motion graphics wiz, Subhankar, deserves a trophy (or two) for his hard work this week. Subhankar sits to my right in the office, and I often find myself looking at his computer screen in absolute confusion and awe. Animation is not easy, my friends… and this guy really knows how to do it. Subhankar has been forging through some large projects this week with admirable zeal and patience. I’ve attempted to serve as team cheerleader during this time, but, it’s become clear that unless I become a motion graphics expert overnight, my “Minnesota nice” cheering is fairly unhelpful.

My second full week with Studio 33 is coming to an end, and while it’s challenging to explain the character of this team – I think one story just about captures it.  In India, certain schools provide higher quality education than others. In order to insure the best possible education for their children, parents will stand in line for hours just to get the form to apply for school. Well, the time has come for Subhankar’s 4.5 year old daughter, Upasana to start school. Originally, he was going to have to take off today to queue, which would have been a challenge with his current workload. But, in classic Studio 33 fashion, we are all taking turns queuing. We’ve been joking that Upsana has quite the assorted batch of parents. Teamwork at its finest!

I've included photos from the experience below. Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Tanya and Ajay take their turn in the queue.

The line - amazing the lengths parents go to for their child's education!

Exercising team parental duties.

Friday, January 10, 2014

From Minnesota to Bangalore: My First Week with Studio 33!

Your blogger for the month!
Greetings, happy Friday, and welcome to Studio 33’s little corner of the internet! My name is Mariah Wika, and I will be guest-writing Studio 33’s blog for the month of January. I am an American student from Minnesota, and I am currently in my 3rd year at Gustavus Adolphus College. One of Studio 33’s fearless leaders, Siddarth Selvaraj, attended Gustavus many moons ago (sorry Sid) and wanted to find a way to stay connected to his alma mater and give a current student a unique opportunity. So, after significant pondering, planning, and a 36 hour journey, I left the tundra of Minnesota and arrived in Bangalore. I am incredibly grateful to be here, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you over the next few weeks!
On Monday morning, I climbed the stairs to our office… I was experiencing those typical jitters that always seem to accompany firsts - first days of school, first dates, and in this case, the first day of work. Upon arriving at the office, I quickly learned that it’s nearly impossible to be nervous when you’re surrounded by cheerfully painted yellow, orange, and green walls. And you know how some offices have impressive conference rooms that house intense debates and suit-clad employees? Well, Studio 33 has a cozy corner of bean bag chairs. Last, but not least, where you might imagine filing cabinets brimming with stuffy information, there’s a massive fish tank.  It’s an unconventional and completely creative space, which I soon learned is perfect for this team.
Studio 33 - complete with its fish tank and office dog, Bailey.

After one week with my colleagues, I have yet to find something that they cannot do. They answer my incessant questions, patiently teach me editing software, order bland food for my Scandinavian stomach, kindly explain how to work appliances, and they film, design, edit, and work in a fiendishly talented way. Their ability to juggle dozens of tasks at once is impressive - if a career in media fails, they’d fit in perfectly at the circus ;) I hopped out of the nest right away on day one and am currently working on a wedding video, social media strategy, and future plans for Studio 33 Impact.

The month ahead is bound to be an exciting one, and we hope you’ll join us for the ride!