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‘I have 15 days left on my visa’

business Updated: Oct 19, 2008 00:11 IST

Hindustan Times
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Sandip Kamatam
New York

September 26. I was enjoying a quiet Friday afternoon the weekend before I was to start my new job. The phone rang, it was a lady’s voice. “I’m sorry to say this, but you need not show up on Wednesday to start your new job. That’s how it is right now, I wish you luck,” she said. I had 36 days left on my H1B visa. This couldn’t be happening to me. My lunch went cold.

It’s mid-October and I too, like the herd that surrounds me, am running out of time and money. I’ve begun calling Indian head hunters and they tell me there are a lot of folks like me coming back home. There’s a whole new pool of skilled workers available in the Indian market.

As I write this, I have 15 days left on my visa. Often I think back to the time I first touched down at Newark International on July 8, 2005, excited and happy. I had landed a consulting assignment at one of the most famous investment banks in the world.

Day after day, I worked longer hours than I billed for, and delivered more than my bosses in the wealth management group bargained for. I was on a perpetual high. I wanted more. I wanted that that MBA to break into the big league.

Soon enough, the Indian IT company which sent me on this assignment started acting up, a rather common phenomenon. I quit the Indian firm and the Wall Street investment bank absorbed me. I moved into a swank studio in Manhattan. This is as good as it gets. Soon, the bad news began trickling in. It started as office gossip, and then the sacking began. Mid march 2008, the titan sold out. Some of us may get jobs, they said. My closest friend and confidante has moved back to India.

I swiftly regroup. I apply to business schools and get accepted at one of the best to study quantitative finance. Meanwhile, one by one, Wall Street’s remaining giants crash. I relocate to Pittsburg to study.

In two weeks, I know I took a wrong call. A business masters at such a time is not going to get me anywhere when the best talent from the world’s top investment banks are out on the streets looking for jobs. I move back to New York. My family is stunned. Even in these jobless times, I manage to convince a hedge fund to hire me. I was to join on October 1, 2008. That’s when the phone rang.