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Jobs for women abroad when following the spouse can be scarce; some tips for working women in India on restarting your career abroad.
By Radhika Kowthas
Quite often working women in India are expected to relocate and follow their spouses abroad. For many, this involves giving up their own careers and moving to live amongst strange languages, dressing, food and smells. Where names of everyday things, the rules and work ethics are different. To allow the mind to let go of knowledge as we know it and ultimately hope to thrive in the new role that we are thrust in, irrespective of how we got there. In such situations most working women in India are forced to take long career breaks. How does one get back into the game?
Just because there seems to be a pause in your career/life, does not mean that you will not accomplish your goal. It will just take a little longer to get there. Write it down on a piece of paper; stick it on your mirror. Read it every day. Bring in reminders of your path to your goal. Keep your dream alive.
For instance, Shreya Patel, an accomplished dentist from Delhi who moved to the US after her marriage, took 3 years before she could embark on a career. She says, “It was very hard to study for the exams all over again, work on my accent so people could understand me.” Despite feeling left out and behind her peers back in India, she is able to look back and does not carry many regrets. “I may have started late, but all this waiting and adapting has made me a better person today,” she concludes.
The race is within you. Not outside, with anyone else.
Just because there seems to be a pause in your career/life, does not mean that you will not accomplish your goal.
Understand and expect in your mind that things will be different. Embrace the change in environment and /or work positively. Staying focused on the bigger picture will give you the perspective that this change is good for you. Your life will be richer for this experience, regardless of how good or bad the situation is.
Flexibility and adaptability will go a long way in brightening your career prospects. Madhavi Iyengar was an auditor when she moved out of India and thought that she would continue to practice in New Jersey. Visa troubles, legal issues and then a surprise pregnancy, stole four years away. She states, “I had to switch! I was going crazy sitting at home changing diapers. I did a Java course part-time and started working as a developer.”
The Internet has brought our worlds closer. There is a place on the net for anything you choose to learn or find out about. Harness that power. Online classes (most of them free including Harvard and Oxford) give you the flexibility to learn at your own pace and from a distant university. Keep yourself mentally stimulated and challenged. Continue to grow. Learn a new language, practise a new sport or pick up a new hobby. Keep yourself busy and productive with the time on your hands, while you wait to get back into the work force. This also looks very good on your resume. Employers are always looking for employees who value their time and use it constructively.
Having a mentor at work or someone who is kind enough to hold your hand while you get comfortable with the novelties helps a lot. Though the work maybe the same, little nuances and the overall atmosphere and personality of people you work with can hinder or help your success in establishing your own career. Be honest about what you can and cannot do. Be open to spending extra time. Work with their schedules. Mentors and employers are always willing to help if the employee is willing to learn and put in that extra effort to be successful.
Though the work maybe the same, little nuances and the overall atmosphere and personality of people you work with can hinder or help your success…
Make an effort to know the people you meet regularly, be it your neighbour, the landlady, your kids’ teachers, the canteen supervisor or the local librarian. Strike up a friendly conversation; a safe subject would be to ask them about the weather -if it will get better or worse, how does one dress for the season. Thank them for helping you. Bring them food, though try not to bring in anything too rich or spicy; stick to simple ones. Everyone likes food!
These are your ice-breakers. Conversation starters will help thaw you into the community. Volunteer your time, it will be highly appreciated. Everyone has a niche, a specific skill that is useful. Find out yours and market it. In return, you will be valued and quickly brought into the community.
On the other hand, remember that people are the same everywhere, fuelled by the drive to be successful at any cost. As Shyam Pandit who moved to Singapore and then UK says “...my colleagues, some of them were nice, a lot of them were extremely self-centred and focused on their own career to the extent that they would try to undermine others to get ahead.”
Always bear in mind that there are opportunities everywhere and that change is a constant. Anything new is daunting. Be patient and have faith in yourself!
Rads lives in the suburbs of Washington DC along with her husband, three kids and
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