Posts tagged “employement”

With every trend, comes a counter-trend, and a counter-trend?

With every trend, comes a counter-trend, and a counter-trend? We’ve seen Indians come to Silicon Valley to be successful, and then last year we heard about successful Silicon Valley immigrants from India returning home to be more successful, and now we’ve got Silicon Valley folks (Americans from Indian and non-Indian backgrounds) who are moving to India (not just for jobs, but for life lessons)

Dharma Sears, 27, who also grew up in Oakland, said he was seeking a different kind of employment when he landed his first job at a private Indian school. He now teaches at the American Embassy School in New Delhi.

India made a lot of sense,” he said. “It’s an English-speaking country. I could find a job in a school easily enough.”

Living in Europe didn’t appeal to Sears. “I wanted to be in a country starkly different. India is a changing and dynamic country.”

Ashok Bardhan, senior economist at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, said that India is facing a shortage of skilled workers and while the large majority of employees inside any one company is still Indian, there is a concerted effort to recruit from abroad.

Indian Americans are especially attractive because they can easily adapt, Bardhan said. “They’re a bridge between a different business culture practices in the U.S. and India. This is the key competitive advantage.”

He added: “There’s quite a significant number of people working at software companies. And at relatively higher positions are folks from the Bay Area.”

Statistics are hard to come regarding the number of young Americans landing jobs in India. Seasoned observers have noted a small but growing number over the past five years.

Robert Hetzel, director of the American Embassy School, said working in India has become a resume builder for many young Americans.

“You can’t pick up a news magazine without (reading) an article about the growth of the economy and the opportunities that are here,” he said. Young Americans “see it as a stepping-stone to a global economy. It says you’ve been in one of the drivers of that economy, India.”

India’s fast growing high-tech and banking companies need skilled employees. Infosys Chief Financial Officer Mohandas Pai said his company has grown from 500 to 50,000 workers in 12 years and has hired many young Americans.

Americans used to say “Go west, young man,” said Pai. “Now it’s go east. With the rise of India and China as economic powers, we are seeing life-changing opportunities here.”

Cultural adjustments come along with working in India for young, single Americans. Erik Simonsen, a 26-year-old native of Riverside, earns a low-six-figure salary working with the investment banking research firm Copal Partners in New Delhi. He rents a nice three-bedroom apartment with cable TV and paid utilities for $400 a month. But he can’t get a date.

“It’s not a place where you just approach somebody and introduce yourself,” he said. “There are expectations from the family. They usually date people from their own communities.”

With a smile, he admitted, “I’ve spent a lot of nights on the couch by myself.”

Hetzel said social life constitutes the biggest worry for his teaching staff. If American staff decide to leave India, he said, “that’s probably the No. 1 reason. They have not been able to create a social life for themselves. Culturally, that’s challenging here.” Single women face the same problem. Couples tend to marry much younger in India than in the United States. By the time a woman hits her late 20s, Indians “think something’s wrong if you’re not married,” said Hetzel. Nightclubs rarely attract single people in their late 20s or 30s.

“All the eligible men are married,” he said.

India has other downsides. Young American transplants immediately notice the poverty and crowded conditions. Simonsen said the first time he emerged from the New Delhi airport, it seemed as if people were “stacked on top of each other.”

“Then you snake into the parking lot and then into a rickety cab,” he said. “At 1 a.m., the highway is packed with trucks, honking, and you’re weaving in and out of them. It’s a pretty crazy first couple of hours when you get here.”

All the Americans interviewed for this story said, despite the difficulties, they wouldn’t give up the experience of living in India. They praised the opportunity to work at interesting jobs and immerse themselves in another culture.

Simonsen said he expects more Americans to head east. “A lot of Indians now in Silicon Valley are coming home, and they’re taking some of their western co-workers back with them,” he said.

“There’s an excitement here that we haven’t seen since the dot-com boom.”


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