United States of America, the land of opportunities as people call it and how true that is. But one does not tend to feel so when one is in a state of transit and shock. I was one of the many women who had a successful independent livelihood in India. I was working as a Senior Software Engineer in Larsen and Toubro with almost six years of work experience. I had to leave all of it to get the family united as my spouse was doing a Post Doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I was in a state of mixed feelings – on one hand getting to US ushered excitement in me but on the other hand, the very thought of being a “dependent” (Well that’s the name for H4 visa!) shook my confidence.
It’s been almost five months since I have moved to US and I gathered myself very quickly. I wanted to constructively exploit the time I was getting, so got involved in many activities. I started learning Italian language as being multilingual is always beneficial for you and your resume. I also joined Yoga classes and have plans to join dance classes too. As I knew driving is an essential requirement to feel independent in US so I started preparing for my driving license, which requires passing two tests in Massachusetts. These things kept me occupied.
Apart from inculcating my hobbies, I focused on building my technical skills too. There are excellent free courses on sites like edx and coursera. They comprise of lectures, assignments and major projects. Some of them are also certificate courses. I joined a few courses on these portals and soon was so busy that I had my mind occupied all the time and all the negative thoughts started wading away.
Being connected to universities like MIT, Harvard gave me a plethora of opportunities. I accompanied my husband for talks from few of the eminent professors and went for a couple of meets. The next best thing that came to me was the group called MIT Spouses and Partners. I went on day tours with some of the groups there which not only gave me the opportunity to explore Boston but also helped me to gain confidence of traveling alone in this new city. I went for their weekly meetings and gradually started to eagerly wait for these meetings. Meeting people from all across the globe is a wonderful experience in itself and is something I did not do in India. Through these meeting I also made wonderful friends, like Shruti, who guided and shared their experiences of being in USA. Shruti also connected me to some of her contacts. This helped in growing my circle of acquaintance.
Since I have been a part of IT sector for so long, I always yearned to go back to work. However, the time was not right when I came to US as no company was willing to sponsor H1B visa and hence, I had no choice but to wait till next year. At the same time, I was bewildered that not many calls came my way from the job portals where I had uploaded my resume. I knew one of the reasons could be my visa limitation. But, I realized that the other one was the format of my resume itself only after attending one of the sessions conducted by MIT Spouses & Partners. I learned that the protocols followed in US are very different from that in India. And believe me, the moment I made changes to my resume, I started getting lot of calls from employers. This was a big boost in itself. I also worked on my Linkedin profile, an important professional networking site. I would advise all those who are in similar position as I am in, that networking is a very important constituent in US professional world and should be pursued actively.
I am also planning to join a certificate course relevant to my qualification in the coming fall in a University. This will help me bridge my career gap as well as hone my technical skills. Definitely it will be an add-on to my resume too. I also intend to volunteer since it will give me an opportunity to network with people. There are many sites as already discussed by Shruti and Ankita where one can look for volunteer opportunities.
So, I believe, at the end what matters is your attitude. Don’t lose hope and keep yourself focused and patient. Thrive for your ultimate goal of getting a job or higher studies whatever it maybe but don’t waste this break. Enjoy every bit of it. Give time to your hobbies and grow as an individual. Being prepared before coming to US is definitely better but even if you are not, as I was, you can do plenty of things over here. And it’s just a matter of time and commitment when you will start climbing your career ladder again and become an independent professional woman.