Archive for November, 2009

The quest for the elusive H1-B Visa

Posted on November 17, 2009. Filed under: Information | Tags: , |

You are from India, doing MS in Computer Science (or any other field for that matter) from a university in US, you do not have an assistantship (or you do for that matter) and you are now looking for a job. Isn’t that you? No harm in that. You have wanted to be a part of the great American dream since childhood and you never cared about higher education. Your motives for coming to the US were purely mercenary.  Even if you are bristling with indignation at this statement, look deep within yourself, and you will find that it is the truth. Do not be ashamed, there are many others like you. Heck, I am like you!

So, to further cater to your mercenary instincts, what do I know about getting a job? I know a bit about getting A job, but not THE job. I would like to share a few tips and caveats with you which I encountered during this process:

  1. Don’t be laid back – You may be having assignments, submissions, dance practices, thesis deadlines, parties to attend. Nothing is more important than getting a job and getting that H1-B application in. Without a job, you may just have to kiss your American dream off.   When you leave US, you want it to be on your own terms and not because you did not get a job.
  2. Arre yaar, many companies come for on-campus ‘placement’ — I know many people who just rely on their on campus resources to apply for jobs. Big mistake! No resource should be left unturned, use Monster, LinkedIn anything.  Daily, allot some time, a couple of hours, to look for companies and apply online from their websites
  3. Hey, mere college se sirf 6 logon ko bulaya hai – A friend of mine, who is doing MS , just told me that she has got an interview call from Orbitz and she is feeling really positive about it, because only 6 people from their university have bagged  this final interview. It is always good to be positive, but not to the point of foolishness.  No company is obliged to take atleast one if they have called 6 or even if they have called just one. There are millions of other candidates who apply for that 1 spot.  Gone are the days, when TCS and Infosys came to your campus and recruited in hundreds.
  4. Do not reject companies, let them reject you —  Do not, not apply to Amazon and Google thinking that you will never make it. You just might make it. Each day is different, sometimes Kenya and Bangladesh have caused major upsets in the world cup. Even if you do not make it, the interview experience will be valuable for the rest of your life.  In many job postings, they say that US citizenship is required. But, on many occasions I have myself experienced that if their need is great enough or if your skillset matches with their needs, they may agree to sponsor the H1-B expenses.
  5. Do not be location specific – Yea, you love the view of the NYC skyline from your apartment and you love Kati Rolls. You love the fact that you are living in California, where the sun shines all the time and the weather report makes no difference.  Get ready for change. If you really want that job and that H1-B, apply to companies in Billings, Montana also.  If you are in US, the lord almighty, will give you many future chances to return to your dream towns and cities. But, maybe you have to endure a few months or years in exile, in the hinterlands of USA, just like Shri Ram Ji’s vanvaas. Who knows, you might just love the experience.
  6. Follow up – Badger HR with emails. Yes, they may be annoyed and may be cussing you. No harm done.  Once, I had got an on site interview call to visit a company on site. The HR said that they will be duly contacting me to schedule the interview. However, they did not and I did not follow up with them.  After a few days, I contacted the company, only to know that the position has been cancelled. Thus, my tardiness in following up, cost me an interview. Many of my kith and kin refuse to follow up after an interview, because they know that they have not got the job. Whatever be the case, the decision will not change because you  did not call. Sometimes, it may happen, that a company is having thoughts whether you would like to relocate or whether you will graduate on time to join them. In that case, a timely call from your side can assuage their fears and get you that spot. If you cannot hear a NO, then you might as well pack your bags and go home.
  7. HR slacks during holidays – If you have not got a job by end of November, it is likely that you may have to wait till the beginning of the next recruiting season, which is February. So, do your best to get as many job interviews and decisions before the holidays start.
  8. My interview went well, I am sure to land the job – Good for you! Does that mean, you should stop looking for jobs? No, it does not! Hiring decisions are made unanimously by the committee who interviewed you.  Even if one of them thinks, you are not a good fit for their organization then you may not get it. You do not know you have got it, until you get an offer letter in writing from them.  So, until you get the offer don’t slack off.
  9. Be aware of the red tape – CPT, OPT, EAD. You need to know about these. The more you know and the sooner you know, the better it is. For example,  as of today, companies who have received TARP funding from the Obama administration, cannot hire people on H1-B. So, do not waste your time in interviewing with these companies. It is good to invest some time in this research.
  10. You are competing against yourself – All around you people will be landing dream jobs and coveted jobs. Someone who is doing a Phd in molecular biology in your university may also be keeping an eye on your progress with jobs.  This intense competition can make you feel bogged down. You may feel that all your friends are in California, and you are  somewhere else. All these  friends and foes are ephemeral. Soon, each will go wherever their life takes them. You need worry only about yourself and do what is the best for you.

On this note, I shall sign off.  If any reader, has specific questions, let me know and I shall follow up with whatever I can. Until then, happy hunting for that elusive H1-B!

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