Expectations vs. Reality
The Phone Call
Expectation: My connection to Ugly Juice began with a phone call to one of the co-founders of the company, Slava. Based on this name, my expectation was that I’d be hopping on a call with a conservative, middle-aged woman who would be quizzing me on food waste statistics and industry news.
Reality: Much to my surprise, the person on the other end of the call was an energetic, excited 25-year-old Ukrainian man. He dove into his passion for tackling the huge world issue of humans wasting perfectly good food. He spoke about how he transformed his passion into creating a startup in San Francisco, in the highly competitive juice market. Slava also made sure to describe his ambitious goals for me as an intern over the following 3 months. Within a 10 minute conversation, my enthusiasm for reducing food waste and my belief in the ability to make a difference in this company grew immensely.
The First Day
Expectation: I expected to walk in and not be paid much attention to, being an intern and all. I started in mid June because of my college schedule, 10 months after Ugly Juice launched. I expected to walk in to a family of employees who are already very much acquainted with each other and be given a stool to sit on over by the refrigerator of juices.
Reality: I arrived 30 min late because I completely underestimated the heinous traffic getting in to SF from the East Bay on a Monday morning. I came up the stairs sweating heavily after sprinting up to the building door. Again, much to my surprise, I was warmly greeted by the other Ugly Juice co-founder, Grant. He introduced me to the rest of the team and I was given a large, comfy chair and a place to work directly next to him.
Slava is a night owl and stays up with the juice chefs in the kitchen every night. The recipe wizards juice the produce into the early hours of the morning so that we are able to deliver them fresh in the morning. Because of this, Slava arrives much later in the day. On my first day, He came through the door and marched right up to me and greeted me with a hug. The expectation that I would be walking in to a tight-knit family was accurate, but they were far from exclusive. I was immediately welcomed quite literally with open arms on my first day.
Expectation: I was ready to be mainly producing social media material for Ugly Juice and also be doing manual labor or whatever bi**h jobs they needed me to do. I was also fully anticipating being taken advantage of because they know I am a student-athlete and I can lift heavy boxes of fruit and vegetables.
Reality: Wow, was I wrong. I was given tasks that I did not think I could even attempt. I was introduced to applications that I did not know were in existence (Mailchimp, Zoho Creator, Slack, Hootsuite, ...the list goes on). And I was given the opportunity to work very closely with a freelance marketer extraordinaire, Jane Felice, who has years of experience and expertise.
Social media content, newsletters, blogs, producing website content, sales exposure, product photo shoots, interaction with possible partners, customer emails, interviewing potential employees and ever more tasks were slapped onto my plate this summer. I was able to visit some insanely neat offices around San Francisco and had the opportunity to work with impressive contacts in other businesses around the Bay.
I feel extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn at such an accelerated pace, and stack my resume with work experience that I had no expectation of getting this summer.
...And, of course, I was taken advantage of for being a student-athlete and did have to move some heavy boxes here and there. ;)
Expectation: Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. Slava explained that Ugly Juice was a more casual, informal workplace atmosphere, but I didn’t allow myself to set expectations. At the most, I thought maybe they might be more easy-going bosses and I could get away with wearing less formal clothing.
Reality: Grant and Slava were the most friendly, understanding bosses in San Francisco. They kept the atmosphere light and comfortable from morning till the end of the day. However, they are also ambitious and hard-working, so they set goals for the company that I had to contribute to. I was expected to be there 7-8 hours a day and get my shi* done. Occasionally, the work day would throw curveballs like delivery errors or a problem in the kitchen and the whole team had to work together to resolve the issues. The Ugly Juice team is cohesive and productive, which is why they are finding success in a difficult market within such a short amount of time. The Uglies are smart and truly passionate about reducing food waste and promoting healthy habits in the Bay Area.
San Franciscans were very receptive to the Ugly Juice mission and methods - it was refreshing to see how many care about health/wellness and ridding the environment of waste.
Expectation: “Thank God, work is over! Peace out, Ugly Juice.”
Reality: I am genuinely sad to part ways with the UJ Team this summer as I head back to school. I had a long commute before and after work, which could have made it so easy to dread the weekdays. Instead, I looked forward to work and welcomed the tasks that the Uglies gave me. I learned a concerning amount more about business and marketing this summer than I have in any college class over the past 3 years (but still #StayInSchool).
All in all, wherever I end up after my senior year of college, I will support their company and I remain an Ugly for life.
By: Cambi Cukar