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GaramChai?

Book: Professional Life in the US: Introduction Section

 GaramChai.com >> Book >> Intro

Preface

The past decade has seen a massive exodus of young technocrats of Indian origin to countries around the world. From Madrid to Mexico City, Singapore to San Jose, Indian professionals have carved a niche for themselves, working for myriad employers, ranging from Fortune 500 giants to small state and city governments. By far the most popular destination is the US. After spending two years in UK, even I decided to move to the US in the spring of 1997. As an Indian technocrat, working for a global company, I have lived and worked in India, UK and the US, and have had an opportunity to build an “international perspective”.  I wish to share snippets of my life and experiences, gained while living and working in the UK and US.

During my spare time, I like to work on my pet project-- building and maintaining a community web portal - GaramChai.com.  My experience in steering the affairs of this portal, along with writing my weekly column on “Working Abroad” for Indian express have given me a unique opportunity to understand the Indian community in the US. 

In this book, I would like to share my knowledge and ideas with emerging professionals, budding executives, students and career focused individuals who would like to get a glimpse of life in the US.

These are interesting times for professionals - on one hand large, corporations around the world are announcing layoffs; on the other hand, new global opportunities in all areas of business are arising.  Professionals have to learn to consciously and actively manage not only their personal lives but also their careers. Young professionals in India still aspire to partake in the globalization that we are experiencing. I have complied the chapters for this book from the regular column that I write for IT People. 

I hope that this book will provide a roadmap to professionals aspiring to pursue a career in the US. 



Introduction

It was the day before Christmas, 1994, when the HR manager of the software company in Bangalore I worked for called me and asked if I’d be willing to fly out to England at a week’s notice. As a rookie programmer, six months out of college, I was on cloud nine. The trip to British consulate, hectic preparations, documentation, foreign exchange… all whirred by and before I knew it I was on the flight to London. Six months later, I was back in Bangalore, having got a taste of the west, itching to return. It was an exhilarating time not just for me but thousands of my peers in the IT industry who were experiencing an unprecedented demand for their skills.

Fast-forward seven years. Here I am, now a green card holder in the US, one of the millions who call themselves NRIs (Non Resident Indians), who reside in almost all the fifty states of the US and most other western nations. A lot of water has flown down river Cauvery (and Thames and Kentucky) since I first landed in London and Kentucky, but I can still taste the trepidation and excitement that I felt while preparing for my first trip abroad.

Young professionals in India still aspire to partake in the immense globalization that we are experiencing, which is expected to grow by leaps and bounds in the twenty-first century. Thousands of Indians move to the US, UK, Canada and other western nations every year. Each move involves hours of anxious research, surfing the web, preparing for the trip; not to mention the apprehension over what fate has in store, thousands of miles away. In the book I wish to share snippets of my life and experiences gained while living and working in the UK and US.

I have been writing a column on “Working Abroad” for Indian Express (IT People section) for a year and regularly correspond with my peers and readers scattered throughout the world. Many of the readers regularly write to me asking for suggestions on life abroad and career options available to foreigners in the US. People in India also ask me about the nuances of life in the US, how we work and live here, earning and savings potential, cultural and social nuances and the general standard of living and quality of life. I have decided to compile a collection of my thoughts and ideas into this book, divided into nine sections that I hope the readers will find informative an insightful. While planning a visit to a foreign country, one must be aware of the intricacies involved in applying for visas. There are different kinds of visas and entry permits given to foreigners wishing to come to the US.  In the first section of this book we will look at immigration, visas and documentation required by Indians who wish to come to the US to work or study. We will also look at employer-sponsored green cards that give individuals immigrant status, allowing one to live and work in the US without any restrictions.

One of the main incentives for people to migrate to a foreign country is the opportunity to magnify one’s earning capacity and consequently savings potential. The standard of living in the US, as compared to that of India is manifold. Hence, even the saving potential gets magnified when Indians move to the US. In the second section of this book, we will look at various aspects of a person’s finances including savings, taxes, entrepreneurship and credit reporting.

When a person moves to a foreign country, he or she needs to understand the basics governing the legal system. In Section three of the book, I will attempt to give readers a basic overview of law and the legal system in the US. Also included is a personal anecdote of my brush with the small claims court system in Chicago that the readers might find interesting.

America is perhaps the most consumerist nation in the world. The choices of products and services available to most consumers can be exciting and at the same time overwhelming. In the section on consumerism, we will look at shopping, services and e-commerce in the US.

America is a land founded on the premise that all of its citizen (and residents) should be able to pursue Life, Liberty and happiness. Work hard and play hard is a motto of most people.  Section five is intended to give a glimpse of the lifestyle in the US. We will look at some of the myriad leisure activates that Indians in the US pursue.

Some of the best medical care in the world can be found in the US.  However good medical care comes at a cost and the system here is built around health insurance. Without insurance, the cost of even ordinary medical services can be prohibitive. Most of us try to prevent medical illness by regular exercises and try to keep fit. In this section of the book, I also talk about the ubiquitous 911 emergency phone services available to everyone in the country. Section seven of the book looks at the changing demographics of the country.   

In section eight of the book, we look at Indians in America and how their lives have changed after Sep 11th. The World Trade Center bombing on September 11th left an indelible mark on everyone in the America and the rumblings are still being felt around the world. Remarkably however, months after that sordid incident, the theme of Israel Zangwill’s play written during the beginning of twentieth century titled "The Melting Pot" still holds tremendous power on the American imagination. The promise that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, and enjoy liberty and freedom to pursue ones dreams, still sways millions who come here.

The last section of this book is intended to give readers a glimpse of professionalism and work-life in the US. The past decade saw the emergence of a wave of opportunities for Indians abroad. However, as we begin the new millennium, we are seeing a slowing of the heated economy. In this section, I will attempt to take the reader through various aspects of economy, change management etc.

The book is not intended to be a ‘how to’ book but is intended to give the readers a glimpse of lifestyle, work and careers in the US. In the appendix, have included links to a number of web resources that the readers might find useful. I have drawn on my life experiences along with observation of my peers and fellow Indians who are also trying to call America their home while maintaining their roots back in India.

 

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Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2002- 2013

All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. Any mentions of commercial products, company names, or universities are solely for information purposes and do not imply any endorsement by the Author or any other entity. The Author provides this article "as is." The Author disclaims any express or implied warranties including, but not limited to, any implied warranties of commercial value, accuracy, or fitness for any particular purpose. If you use the information in this document in any way, you do so entirely at your own risk.

Click here to send feedback to the author: Mohan _at_ GaramChai.com

Book Index

  • Intro
  • Section 1: Visas and Immigration
  • Section 2 Finances
  • Section 3 Law and legal system
  • Section 4 Consumerism
  • Section 5 Life and weekends in the US
  • Section 6 Health and lifestyle
  • Section 7 Demographics
  • Section 8 Indians in America: Looking to the future after Sep 11th
  • Section 9 Preparing for the next wave
  • Appendix
  •  

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