Ramya Nagaraja’s story

Ramya1My name is Ramya and this is my story. I moved to the USA with my husband in 2012 when he started an MS program. Back in India, I had done Masters and had worked for over 6 years in software industry. I quit my job so as to keep family together. Our kid was 1 year old then. I hoped to find a job with H1B sponsorship once in the US. But that was not to come easily.

In 2012, I applied to a few companies through employee referrals. So I got phone screening calls from 2 big companies. But soon after, H1B cap for the year was reached and I could not be considered by any company that year. I was very disappointed because it meant I had to wait for another year to even apply for jobs; and another 6 months to start working if I found a job and H1B. Having never stayed back at home, having had an identity outside of home always, it was not easy to accept that situation. Worse still, there was no guarantee that I would get a job the next year; with a 2 year gap by then! So we as a family considered moving back to India if I didn’t find a job the following year.

Another option looked good at the time – to pursue an MBA in the US. Since I already had MTech from India, I didn’t want to do that but it was a good time in my career to make that leap from technical to managerial role. Again, it is not a simple procedure to do an MBA in the US, for internationals. We have to give GMAT and apply to schools at least 9 months in advance. As a first step, I prepared for GMAT for 3 months and got a decent score. Mainly, it helped me keep sane during those otherwise no-goal days. I went to Information sessions of B schools. But finally when time came to apply, I didn’t apply to any B school because there were uncertainties on personal front.Where will my husband find a job? Where will I apply to? Will I be able to manage an MBA with a kid by myself if my husband worked somewhere else? With lots of unknown parameters in the equations, I could not take the plunge there.

And then came the season of applying to jobs again – hopeful of the H1B’s that were to be opened up. It was clear from a long time that in 2013, H1B’s would be picked by lottery as the number of applications would be so much more than could be handled in the first week. So much more pressure to find a sponsor before April! I applied through employee referrals, LinkedIn, Dice, Monster etc. I must have applied to about 30 companies during those 2 months. Each application involved creating a detailed profile in each company’s career site. I heard back from hardly anybody for a long time. Lot of consultants called up, having seen my resume on Dice, but most of them were not genuine. I could not risk my future by taking their service. A few of them told that the only way to find a job was through F1->OPT route because that is how companies get to try you as an intern before offering a job.

Towards end of February, I got 3 calls from relevant companies in the same industry that I worked for earlier. I had applied to all of them through employee referrals. Two of them showed interest but were not ready to wait till October. They asked me to apply in May but they knew as well as I that H1B would not last till May. One company was ready to wait till October and asked me to give on-site interview. And that is what gave me the job finally. Later, H1B’s were selected by lottery indeed and by luck, mine was selected.

In summary, these didn’t work for me:
1. Premium LinkedIn account and Job applications via LinkedIn
2. Online job portals like Dice and Monster
3. Blind job application on company’s website

The only thing that worked for me was:
Employee referral in a company that had a very similar job posted as I had worked on earlier. Networking was my savior.

If I were to go back in time and advise myself, I would say this, “Do everything you can early – prepare for school admission, prepare for job interviews and network hard to maintain old connections as well as to make new connections. Things will work out in the end. In the meanwhile, enjoy the break:-)”

Ramya Nagaraja

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