Monday, December 5, 2011
America's recent grads, now sought in India
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Win Bennet traveled extensively with his parents growing up, part of a family that enjoyed exploring different cultures.
When he graduated from Brown University with a major in economics and international relations in 2009, the American job market was less than welcoming, to say the least - so he looked to India.
"India is a natural choice for a few reasons," said Mr. Bennet, 24, who studied urban planning in Bangalore in his junior year. "The Indian overseas diaspora is a very vibrant and welcoming community." Also, he said, Indian professional networks with the West are large, deep and growing. "It was easy to explore opportunities and find a niche that fit my passion and skill set," just by talking to family friends and acquaintances, he said.
Mr. Bennet landed a job as an analyst has lived in Mumbai for the past three years.
With the economy at home showing no signs of improving, an increasing number of recent graduates from the United States are job-hunting in India. Eager for the talent, Indian companies have responded by setting up recruiting programs overseas. While the pay in India is usually much lower than a graduate would earn in America, a lower cost of living can mean a better quality of life. "The chance to travel the world and live in a colorful Asian democracy far outweighs salary considerations when you have just graduated," Mr. Bennet.
Kunal Bahl, the co-founder of Snapdeal, an Indian e-commerce company, recently returned from a recruiting trip to the United States with stops at Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern and Stanford. "We don't have a very old legacy of Internet technology in India, and for a company that is as fast-growing as us the talent pool quickly dries up," said Mr. Bahl, 29, an engineer with a business degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
When Snapdeal's team spread the word that they were planning a U.S. recruiting trip, they were surprised by the response: more than 2,000 resumes, 30 percent of them from people who were not of Indian descent. For many non-Indians, Mr. Bahl said, "It's not that they are not getting jobs there, but they are not getting the jobs they want." So young American graduates "would rather come to India with all the resources available and get to do exciting things," he said. He plans to return in the spring for another recruiting drive.
Indians who have lived abroad for some time are also aggressively looking for work back home. "We do get a lot of C.V.'s from people abroad, especially Indians looking to come back to India," says Hitesh Oberoi, chief executive of Naukri.com, a leading Indian job site. "The number of Indians going abroad to study has increased significantly in the last few years, and they are potentially a great talent pool for companies here, especially start-ups," he said.
Snapdeal is not alone in looking for fresh talent overseas; Mahindra & Mahindra is recruiting at the Wharton School at Penn along with Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland. At job fairs held in New Jersey and California recently, Indian companies included FlipKart, InfoTech Enterprises, Jindal Steel & Power and Tata Motors.
"In the recent past, a lot of Indians who have been living and working abroad have shown an interest in moving back to the country," said Mekin Maheshwari, president of engineering at FlipKart, of the decision to participate in the job fair.
Universities have also noticed the trend. Rajiv Dewan, a senior associate dean at the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester, said that about 20 percent of the school's 400 graduates were now taking jobs in Asia, up from less than 10 percent five years ago. Of the nearly 40 Indians in the class, about 10 have taken jobs back home, where in the past only a handful would have done so, he said.
"In the past, if people come back they would be considered a failure," Mr. Dewan said during a recent visit to India. "Now, when people come back they feel that this is the best start for them."