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*!


Native Born American said...

They should reduce the limit. There are too many native-born American programmers looking for work.

Hire Americans!

Anonymous said...

Dude ... don't worry ... in the grand scheme of things, this means nothing.

Problem == Opportunity


Anonymous said...

So as a "22 year old Undergrad" you think you are above the "code monkey type jobs"? Geeezzz!!! Shut up and pay your dues then learn some respect and humility!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AwesomeArpit said...

Native Born American - the next post will be speially for you :)

iq: thanks man .. shoot me an email about wats going onwith you.

Anonymous1 - would you force a dermatologist to do a podiatrist's work and call it "paying his dues"? These jobs were not a good fit for me and not what I enjoyed. Why should one settle for a job one is not happy with if thre are opportunities (like the one with MS ) out there that are a better fit?

Running test sripts written by others and marking 'ok' or 'failed' in an excel spreadsheet is just not my idea of a great job.

People who had their comments removed: Flamebait will be removed.

gg said...

I'm confused. So you will be in charge of schedules and deliverables etc. now as a program manager? No technical work?

awesomearpit said...

Hey gg..
here is the best description of the PM position I could find:

Anonymous said...

So, how many jobs have you applied for in the past, anyway? Over here in the U.S, even U.S. Citizens get strung along and then dropped. The only thing different is the excuses that were used. I've never had the "we couldn't get a visa" but I'm sure I've heard almost every other reason/excuse in 30 years of working and job hunting.

"You're a great fit and the boss likes you, but, and maybe you read the quarterly report in the WSJ, we didn't make our numbers last quarter so there's a hiring freeze until (some indeterminate date in the future). We'll keep your resume on file..."

I had an offer in hand from another company who was sold to another company before I could return the acceptance letter.

I've was hired for one job which then vanished as soon as I showed up to work.

So it goes.

Bottom line: get over it. It's nothing personal, racist, protectionist, or whatever. If you're as bright as you think you are then for every door that closes, two or three more should open up. If those doors aren't opening, then maybe you need to go back and sharpen the sword a bit more.

I can tell you one thing, until you get that magical visa, golden lamp, or pot-of-gold, you'd be better off working as something even remotely related to your field (even if it's checking boxes in a spreadsheet) because that looks way better on your resume than a long period of un- or under-employment.

Seriously, which sounds better to a hiring manager:

a) I was unemployed for X-months (years?!) because I was looking for the best fit in a position that was appropriate for my education and and career interests.


b) I worked as a tester for x-months after I graduated because I wanted to get as much hands-on experience in the field while I looked for a job that was more in line with my abilities and interests. While working as a tester, I learned... that I think will make me a better (whatever you want to be).

In the end, it's all up to you.

awesomearpit said...

Dear anonymous,
Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

What you say is spot on and I never alluded to any rascism or anything of the sort {protectionism is another story for another day though).

Unlike you, I do not have the benefit of 30 years of experience to fall back on and am just learning from the school of hard knocks.

I made a mistake by pinning all my hopes on this one job, and maybe its taken me longer than it should have to get out of denial.

As i indicated in my post, I am indeed checking other doors to see if they are open now...

Anonymous said...

It's easy to get all glossy-eyed over a MSFT offer, etc. But these things come and go. Once you start looking again (if you haven't already) things will look up.

WRT 30 years of experience, I wouldn't say that I've ever "fallen back" on those years, In the computer industry, that's often a disadvantage more than an advantage. I mean I programmed in FORTRAN, so what?

They have, however, provided a bit more perspective on things. In the end, regardless of what job you have (even it is just offered) what you get out of it all depends on you. That's true with 30 years of experience or 30 minutes.

Best of luck in your search.

Anonymous said...

what does a program manager do anyway at microsoft? this guy is barely outta school ....

Anonymous said...


I am sure there are better postions available in Bangalore then being a Program Manager in Microsoft. Sometimes, it works out for the better!!

Anonymous said...

...protectionism is another story for another day though...

Protectionism deals with goods, not immigration. I can't wait to read your rationalization on this topic.

Michael Ens said...

"Protectionism deals with goods, not immigration. I can't wait to read your rationalization on this topic."

The "good" here is a job, and the rationale for keeping the limit low is to make these jobs high-quality and plentiful for Americans. This is exemplified by "native born American"'s post. Thus, the issue at hand with these jobs is not as a tickbox for immigration status, but as goods.

Now, you can argue some other rationale, but it's fairly clearly the "American wages" and "hire American workers" protectionism, not limits on immigration, that have made the news and thus that Arpit would be most familiar with.

And after all that, your cavalier attitude is astonishing. At the very least, realize that he's been strung along for more than a year over this, and it sucks.

Speaking as a native born Canadian who got an offer from Microsoft and can go because the USA does not limit the visas for Canadian citizens (or Mexicans) with job offers (the visa restrictions are a bit different than H1-B).

Anonymous said...

Michael ens:

A job is not a good. A job is performing a service. Protectionism deals with goods, both the importation and exportation. That is what my original comment was about. I agree with native born american. Both the H1B and L1 programs are rife with fraud and should be terminated.

Anonymous said...

Protectionism deals with goods, both the importation and exportation.

Not true. Protectionism applies to both goods and services whether through tariff barriers (e.g. customs duties) or non-tarrif barriers (e.g. labor standards).

The 1995 GATS treaty of the WTO regulates trade in services while the 1994 GATT treaty regulates trade in goods.

Mayur said...

Hey Arpit,

Without going into the specifics of your case, I would like to let you know that I feel sorry for you.

Short statement wrt blog. Shit Happens!....

Liked your writing. Chin Up! Keep in touch.


Anonymous said...

Hey Arpit,

Your story is an EXACT mirror of what just happened in my case with msft :). I was forwarded your blog post by a friend who actually thought that I made this blog using a pseudo-name :) wierd is that...

I was hired in May 2006 and someone missed my visa by one day. Now I'm told I didnt win the lottery. Whats more funny, I was hired for the MED as well :)...And yeah it sucks, when you hear something new coming out on the windows mobile 5 etc (i proudly own an I-mate k-jam and xbox live)....

so it stings using these things and some part of you saying that 'i could have worked on these smart things as well'...but then 'could have' and 'do have' are two completely different things...

the world is a HUGE place and there are a lot of companies where your skillset can add more dont worry too much about it and good luck ;)...

Anonymous said...

Nowhere in the GAT does it make reference to importing foreign scab labor to displace local workers. Service is addressed in the context of what constitutes the sector. Immigration is not addressed in the GAT and foreign workers are not covered. Recently, close examination of the educational credentials of Indian scabs applying for H1B visa positions indicate massive fraud. Let them stay in India and make it a better country. We don't need them in the U.S.