From Bhiwani to Silicon Valley – Part 1
By Guest Blogger, Nikhil Garg
Rs. 44,600 – this is how much it would cost me to chase The Great American Dream! Yes, today I finally booked my Cathay Pacific economy class tickets for the date of September 25th. I’d have a good week to myself before I start my job on October 1st. Here is how it all began . . .
Placements take place at IIT Delhi during December every year. Hundreds of top companies, who have screened candidates well in advance, visit the campus in December to interview the pre-screened students and make an offer. For CS graduates, there are two types of job which are super alluring – core CS jobs in Silicon Valley and finance jobs in India. All companies are rated beforehand and higher rated companies come before lower rated ones. Needless to say, with whole of the graduating class beaming with energy, clean shaven, formally suited-booted, running from one interview to another, the whole campus goes into frenzy on day one.
For a long time, everyone at my school including myself was supremely confident in my ability and believed that getting into any company would be a cake walk for me. Despite my love for Computer Science, I had decided to work in India with a finance company so that I could stay close to my aging parents who live in the small city of Bhiwani. Both have retired and are leading a comfortable life in the city they raised their family. Nobody told me to do so – but the guilt of leaving my family behind for work satisfaction was too overwhelming. I was determined to ‘sacrifice’ my preferred industry for my parents’ sake – without even talking to them about it ever.
While I was busy making my own plans, someone up there had his own plan in motion; maybe, that’s why the wise suggest having a backup! I was a flop show on day one. Some would call my dismal performance in interviews as a black out of epic proportions; some would call it Murphy’s Law in action. I now prefer to call it divine intervention. I was rejected by a couple of companies including the finance ones located in Delhi which I preferred to join. Handful of offers that I did manage, although fairly lucrative, weren’t interesting to me. My ego had been shattered. Yes, while others were congratulating me on my Facebook wall for all the wonderful offers I had grabbed, I was sulking, literally crying, sitting alone in room D-16 of Nilgiri Hostel.
Next morning I got a call from Microsoft. They wanted to extend their offer from MS India and offered me a position in MS USA. I declined the offer on the phone. An hour later I talked to my dad and told him about the phone call. He heard me for a minute in his stereotypical calm way, and then asked me – but why don’t you want to go to USA? That was the turning point! My parents are in a sound health – physically, socially and financially. I could spare a couple of years in USA, gain some experience, make enough money and come back. This was the plan as my dad told me. They never had a problem with me going to USA. They told me, as long as I’m returning back!
If I had to go to USA and leave my country behind, I better get a job that I truly like. So in next 3 months I got busy and applied off campus for positions with Google and a startup that had caught my attention, Quora. This time luck was on my side and I procured an offer from both. After enough deliberation and turmoil, I decided to join Quora over Google – but that deserves another entry in itself. Meanwhile in these 3 months, as the thought of going to US sank in deeper, my fear and apprehension of going to a foreign land subsided a little. Before the guilt of leaving my parents could raise its head, number of zeros in my pay package, when converted to Indian currency sealed all the mouths. Last December, I was prepared to spend a year or maybe two in US but with time it has changed – in only a few months, the number has already gone to five, probably still counting.
I’m 22 and I’m told that I’m already a suitable boy. My relatives are already toying with the idea (out loud, of course) of staying with me when they come on vacation. My picture is circulating in local dailies bragging about my salary, framing me as pride of the city and the state. A tide of people is calling in to congratulate me, bringing their little kids to me for guidance and positive influence. In nutshell, people are going crazy.
I don’t quite understand how, but what started in my mind as guilt for breach of responsibility towards my ageing parents and apprehension of going to an alien land, has magically turned into some local celebration of sorts. I’m still struggling to cope up with it.
About the author: I’m Nikhil Garg, 22, coming from a small town called Bhiwani in state of Haryana in India, more conventionally famous for its boxers. I graduated from IIT Delhi in May 2012 as a Computer Science major and I’m going to join an internet startup called Quora as an engineer this October. I can be read at my blog called Yellow Agony and can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.