Thursday, June 21, 2007

Whose Job is it Anyway? [Part 1]

I appreciate the comments left on the last post. I will continue the story of our undergrad as and when new developments take place. Based on feedback received, this is part one of a two part series regarding my friend Spikey Nsoft and his quest to make sure that *he* doesn't inadvertently "steal" a job.

Spikey Nsoft is a recent computer science graduate, currently seeking a job. He lives in Pinchunia - a third world country (TWC). He’s decided that he will never stoop so low as to steal anything – whether its movies from bit torrent or American Jobs. The trouble is, he needs a little help identifying an ‘American’ job.

Is working at Microsoft in Redmond stealing an American Job? What if the job was created to specifically service customers in Japan? Is that stealing a Japanese job then?

What about working for Microsoft in Pinchunia? What about working for CyberMagic – that Pinchunian company that does outsourcing work for Microsoft? How about working for Bits n’ Bytes , the restaurant that has sprouted up just to feed those hungry techies at CyberMagic?

Spikey’s mind wanders to his cousin - Pointy, who joined IBM in the US on an H1B visa (thief!) but has since then become an American citizen ... so is he still an American job thief despite being an American citizen himself?

After thinking about it for a while Spikey Nsoft figures that the nationality of a job, could possibly be determined by asking:

  • What is the nationality of the Majority shareholders/Owners?
  • Where is the company registered, has its headquarters and which government gets to buy $1000 toilet seats with tax money paid by the company ?
  • What is the nationality of the people due to whom the job exists in the first place – the Customers being screwed served by the firm?

Spikey proceeds to apply this test to the classic “stolen American job” – Big US corporation outsourcing work to firm in third-world country. He looks at a job at CyberMagic - the outsourcing company based in Pinchunia:
Owners: Pinchunian
Based in: Pinchunia
Customers: American

Bad bad CyberMagic! Clearly if they weren’t in the picture some US company could swoop in and provide Americans employment.

Same test applied to a job at Apple Inc, based in the US:
Owners: American
Based in: America
Customers: Pinchunian (and worldwide)

Huh … So what’s going on here?

Companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple etc have their employees concentrated primarily in the US -yet sell their products globally. Are these American companies stealing jobs from the rest of the world? What about the thousands of Americans working for foreign firms like Toyota?

To be continued ...

[No, I am not Anti American or anti-anything. The US makes for an easy example - the above holds true for a number of other countries]

Friday, June 15, 2007

Life is a Lottery?

Here is the Story of a 22 year old Undergrad and his mystical quest for the magical h1B...

Feb 2006 : Comp Sci Undergrad with swashbuckling people skills and good programming skills seeks job. Undergrad finds market flooded with code monkey type jobs ;) ... Undergrad keeps looking.

Mar 2006: Undergrad lands an interview with Microsoft for their program manager position. Undergrad convinces best friend (who is set to go to grad school) to also apply to Microsoft – best friend also gets an interview.

Later Mar 2006: Undergrad is hired by Microsoft into the hot new Mobile search group as a program manager. Best friend is also hired.

Undergrad can’t believe his luck: A job that plays to his strengths, with an awesome fast-growing group, that pays well, with Microsoft taking care of relocation, with best friend along for the ride and in picturesque Seattle. Now all he needs is a nice girlfriend and he's set...

June, 2006: Undergrad says no to a couple of Canadian jobs and goes back home to India for a short vacation. Undergrad is informed that the application filed on his behalf for the H1B visa didn’t make it in time for the May 26th cut-off. Undergrad is told to hang on. Undergrad is happy that Microsoft keeps his position open for him but worried about how long he may need to wait. Undergrad forms online group for other people in his situation.

April 2007: Almost a whole year has gone by and our undergrad is still where he was last April. It is time to apply for H1B visas again. Undergrad learns that H1B visas are being assigned by a random lottery system this year - for the first time in history.

June 2007: After a fun two months spent checking his email every 7 minutes, the Undergrad is informed he has lost random lottery. Microsoft promises to get back by end of June with solutions.

Undergrad feels:

Today: The Undergrad, in a bid to lift his mood, watches episodes of 'Scrubs' (its funny and he feels glad that at least *he* doesn't have "Acquired Childhood Aphasia with Convulsive Disorder"!). But then an ad comes on proclaiming the sheer coolness of the new "Hutch GPRS phone with Windows Live Search built in"... our Undergrad ends up oscillating between:

Undergrad gets pep talk from best friend who has now been working at Microsoft for a year. Undergrad starts to pick up the pieces by examining his options:

  1. See what Microsoft comes up with – Undergrad's most preferred option is to work at the windows live search for mobile group in India until the situation can be sorted out. But current talk on online group suggests, he should expect his current offer to be withdrawn.
  2. Apply to other places (Google India, Ebay India etc).
  3. Do his own Web 2.0 Startup.

The Background:

The Undergrad: an International student from India, completed his double major in Comp Sci and Economics from the University of Toronto, Canada. He can no longer go back and work in Canada easily due to work permit issues. [learn more about the Undergrad by perusing his Resume.]

The Magical H1B : The visa required for non US citizens to work as skilled workers in the US. The US gives out only 65000 of these every year. You can apply as early as April to get an H1B that comes into effect in October – the start of the fiscal year. This year the USCIS (the immigration dept) received about 133,000 H1B applications on the first two days – far exceeding their 65000 quota. So, for the first time in US history, they held a random lottery. And only the winners of this lottery get their applications processed. *FUN*!