What It's Like to Work at . . . JCrew.com

Interviewee: Sundar Rajan, director of Web development

Company: JCrew.com

Main location: New York's Greenwich Village

Tenure: About 20 months

Number of information technology employees: JCrew.com has five IT staffers plus about 10 contractors who do application development and database administration. JCrew IT, which provides infrastructure support for the Web site, has 40 to 50 people in New York and about 50 in Lynchburg, Va.

Will you be expanding the dot-com staff? "Yes, we'll get at least another four to five people in the short term and more later on."

What do you look for in new employees? "E-commerce experience or Internet applications development first. Then you should have a strong IT background. At the junior level, I look more for exposure to new things. I don't look for fashion industry experience; I'm more interested in technical skills."

Dress code: Business casual. "Mostly we wear J. Crew stuff. On Fridays, we dress down in jeans and T-shirts."

Workday: "It starts at 8:30 or 9 a.m., and we usually end up working to 7 or 8 p.m. But we can work from home -- there are no hard-and-fast rules. I have a secure ISDN line at home that the company pays for."

How is working in the Web group different from straight IT? "It's less personal. You don't know your user groups. And there's a lot more traffic. The site has to be scalable to support several thousand people at one time, and you have to plan for big growth every year."

Major initiatives: "Migrating the architecture of the site from an older (IBM Color Graphics Adapter)-based architecture to a newer Java-based architecture (completed in October). We plan to personalize the site more to give customers a more personal shopping experience. For example, based on your past buying behavior, we could show you different promotions and new items that might interest you more."

Training in 1999: "External training in Java, Oracle databases and some of the tools we use."

Types of offices: "It's all open space -- there are no private offices. It's a very casual, open environment."

What do you see on people's desks? Fashion magazines, technical magazines, books on using new-media tools.

Must people carry beepers or cell phones? "Yes, we all have beepers, and some of us have cell phones. . . . I'm called away from my personal life about 10 times a week. It depends on the season."

Percentage of staff that telecommutes on a given day: "Generally, we all come to the office, but on Fridays, one or two people may work from home."

In-house cafeteria or other food service? No. "There's so many take-out places around here, we just call for a delivery."

The one thing everyone complains about: "That there are so many changes; that we're always moving so fast."

Little perks: "Thirty-percent employee discounts; flexible hours; creative, exciting work; learning the latest technologies in new media and e-commerce."

What do you like most about the job? "The excitement, getting to use the latest and greatest."

What do you like the least? "The long hours."

How's the compensation relative to the hours? "It's good. . . . I have no complaints."

Last companywide/department perk: A Christmas lunch; a relaunch lunch in October.

Would employees feel comfortable e-mailing the CEO? "Yes, sure."

Quote: "It's long hours and a lot of work, but it has been real exciting. We have various initiatives going forward, so the future looks good." -- Leslie Goff

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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