A reader writes:
I'm an American in my early 20s, the ink on my Ivy League diploma not yet dry, plunging into my first job. I'm writing to say that I am doing just fine in the recession. My company is hiring, the economy is still growing at an impressive clip, and the hope and optimism that tomorrow will be even better than today is palpable.
I can say this because I didn't follow my fellow college grads to Wall Street in search of money that was so abundant and so certain that it seemed too good to be true (as it turned out to be). While my friends went to Manhattan; I went to Mumbai, opting for a management trainee program at an Indian conglomerate that is looking for Americans to bring fresh ideas into the company.
I would be lying if I said every day weren't a challenge in matters corporate, cultural, and even culinary. India is a sea of cultures wildly different from my own, and it is still a developing country that is rife with mind-numbing "Slumdog"-style poverty. Communal and class tensions simmer and occasionally boil over, exploited by greedy politicians for their own short-term gain. And I am getting paid Indian wages; while I live very comfortably here, the US government considers me to be living below the poverty line (which, as it turns out, doesn't stop my beloved alma mater from asking for money!)
And yet, in spite of all of this (perhaps because of it in some ways), my experience has been unrivaled. It is as exhilarating as it is enlightening to be here. Working in India, I stand on the frontier of the flat world, the Wild West in the East, watching what will soon surpass China to be the world's most populous nation drag itself, kicking and screaming, into modernity and prosperity, and the broad, sunlit uplands of its destiny as a superpower and a pillar of the Free World.
Judging by the flood of applications our company received from the Class of 2009 (a four-fold increase in applications over the previous year), it looks like the recession is compelling other students to look beyond their own country (and comfort zone) for career opportunities.
America may lose some of its best talent now, but in the long-term I know I will return to my home country, and I think America may gain from the small, but growing number of American's best and brightest who are learning first-hand the often-innovative business practices from other countries (you wouldn't believe how much more Indians have learned to do with less!), becoming more familiar with cultures of the world, and increasing the exposure of the world's people to real live Americans, who (much to their delight) are not like George W. Bush.
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