After my friends left India I was supposed to start working at a media house where my Dad’s friend had arranged for me to do an internship for a few months. I wasn’t expecting to make any money, I was just interested in the experience. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned. The company’s HR was paranoid about me not having a work permit and insisted I get one immediately. So I did some research and with the advice of my grandfather’s friend I applied for an OCI card instead of a work permit. It would take as much time to process, but was more beneficial in the long-run. I kept trying to explain to the HR department how I’d applied for the OCI card and asked if it would be okay for me to start working before it came but they said no as they were very strict about their policies.
I started to panic that I was wasting my time in India and I’d go back to the U.S without any experience and continue to be utterly confused about what I wanted to do in life. I started spreading the word that I was on the look-out for an internship and luckily one day my cousin asked if I would be interested in working at a fashion magazine. I said I didn’t mind as I was open to experience working in any industry at that point (The perils of a generic business degree, you don’t know what to do when you graduate!). She gave her friend a call and before I knew it I was in their office for an interview. I went into this interview with the intention of only being there for a few months to observe how things worked. My first impression – no one from the marketing department knew I was coming in for an interview. The person who saw my resume and asked me to come in wasn’t even in the city that day. Obviously it was a case of miscommunication. Nonetheless, I met another girl from the marketing department and she asked me if I could join from the next day. I was ecstatic. How exciting would it be to intern at a fashion magazine and learn how the industry works? Well, I sent in my resignation after 1 month. To be politically correct, it wasn’t my cup of tea. It wasn’t the company, it was me. I’ve never been an aggressive person and when you work in a company filled with strong women it can be a little intimidating. I really didn’t think I would ever be able to fit into this company and figured I’d just chill for a few months before going back home. Unexpectedly, the editor called me in and offered me a full-time job in business development as they were in the process of restructuring the company and wanted me to stay on. I thought about it and decided to take it on as a challenge – I didn’t have a job back home and thought it would be a good experience professionally and personally.
At the time I worked at the magazine I sometimes felt like I had made a mistake by accepting the job and should’ve just returned to the U.S. But now when I look back, I realize how much I gained. I learnt to work my way through chaos (a very important lesson if you ever work in India), met some of the most amazing people, had some very funny experiences, got through my first year in India without feeling too homesick & learnt the most important lesson of my life – not everything goes as planned so be prepared for surprises. If my plans hadn’t changed I would have never truly experienced what it’s like to work in India and that’s something I will forever be grateful for.
PS: If you’re an Indian-American and your parents are of Indian origin I highly recommend you get an OCI card if you plan on working in India or frequently visiting the country. It’s a really simple process and it’ll save you a lot of time and hassle in the future! Contact the Indian embassy near you to fill out the application.