Continuing on from Stan-the Coconut-Man’s wonderful post on his BrainGain experience, I talked to Sarah about her time in Bangalore.
Sarah, a Seattle native, made the move to Bangalore in the middle of Spring 2015 and is nearly halfway through her current 1 year contract. She was kind enough to talk to me about her route to Bangalore and the experiences that she’s had so far.
The Travel Bug
Sarah is a recent graduate from Marquette University, and with her major being International Affairs, she was destined to be one of the early young professionals who made the jump into her international career through BrainGain.
Sarah’s travel bug was ignited after going on a high school trip to the Dominican Republic and family vacations to Europe. Then, after spending a semester studying abroad in Paris, Sarah’s eyes were opened to the different opportunities and experiences that are available overseas. After enjoying the fantastic culture and scenery that was on offer all around Western Europe, Sarah was eager to see more of the world.
After graduation, Sarah knew that she wanted to work abroad, but the common route of teaching English overseas was not an option as she wanted something that would provide her with both career and personal development.
Landing Her First International Position
With limited international opportunities available, Sarah resigned herself to job hunting for entry level marketing positions in her home city of Seattle. This was around the time that a friend mentioned BrainGain and the chance of working abroad in a position in which she could pursue her budding marketing career.
After interviewing with a number of different companies, Sarah decided that Hotelogix (an international tech startup providing hotels with contextual data analytics) was the company that had the right mission and position for her.
After sorting visas, flights, and housing, Sarah was ready to hit the ground running as Hotelogix’s digital marketing expert and content creator.
Living and Working in Bangalore
From here on out, I will let Sarah’s answers do the talking..
Matt: Why did you want to work abroad?
Sarah: Working abroad has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember. I love the challenges and adventures that come with navigating a new culture, and it is even more interesting when you are working as opposed to being a student or tourist. Working in international development in some capacity (ideally human trafficking – and by that I mean stopping it, not perpetuating it :p) is a long-term career goal of mine, and I figured just getting out into the world, especially an emerging economy like India, would be a good first step.
M: What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome before moving out here?
S: My parents were initially wary of my decision, but they came around pretty quickly and since then have been nothing but extremely supportive. I thankfully do not have any student loan debt, so even though my salary would be considered low by U.S. standards, I actually have roughly the same purchasing power I would back home in an entry-level job.
M: Once you were on the ground, what were your initial impressions of Bangalore?
S: Having traveled in India (though not Bangalore) before, I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect. The crowds, traffic, re-learning how to cross the street, etc. are actually all pretty easy to adjust to after a few weeks. With the extremely cosmopolitan nature of Bangalore, culture shock is fairly minimal and definitely manageable. Of course, it’s always important to remain alert, but I feel very safe here overall and have had no major concerns in that regard.
M: Considering that this is first international position, how has your experience working in a foreign workplace been?
S: I’ve never worked in a start up environment before, so I’d say that was more of an adjustment than the U.S./India factor. It’s definitely a great learning experience and a good way to develop multiple skills simultaneously. I’ve enjoyed gaining international marketing and communication skills and have had to learn a lot about flexibility and patience as well
M: What have been the high points of your experience so far?
S: I have loved meeting people from all over the world who now call Bangalore home. It is such an interesting melting pot of professionals from all types of industries. I love that Bangalore is a very laid back and welcoming city, it has been easy to make friends and develop an active social life. My life here feels very well-balanced in terms of work, social life, and individual development. I have loved exploring India even more through my trips as well.
M: And how about the lows?
S: Some cultural differences can sometimes get overwhelming, but that comes with the territory (literally and figuratively). It can be difficult to communicate back home with a 12.5 hour time difference and “every day” things from back home aren’t quite as simple here (but that’s part of the fun!)
M: Finally, what is your advice for any future young professionals looking to work abroad?
S: Go for it! Whether it’s teaching English, volunteering, going through BrainGain, or any other connection – just get out into the world if you are feeling drawn to going abroad. I’ve found that once your feet are on the ground, things will fall into place for you if you go into it with a positive outlook and attitude. You are inherently vulnerable when moving to a new country, but this vulnerability actually proves to be a strength if you allow it to help you better connect with people and learn more about yourself along the way. You’ll find that people will help you, befriend you, and guide you through the tough times, both personally and professionally. I think it’s definitely better to take the plunge now than regret it down the road
A big shout out and thank you to Sarah for taking the time out of working, traveling, and just generally being awesome, to talk to me about the her time here in Bangalore!