Job Survival Tips for H1B contractors and employees

Job Survival Tips for H1B contractors and employeesJust started new job or contractual assignment in USA, these are the survival tips that would help you be successful whether you are a contractor or employee.

Timeliness

Timeliness Many H1B employees appear to have a lax attitude when it comes to time and timeliness. While we certainly have the right to waste our time and lives, we’re never entitled to do that with other people !

  • Arrive to your work on time and also leave on time. If you continue to stay longer just to impress your boss then the day you leave early, your co-worker would say he left early!
  • Do not commit the number of days/hours to complete the task without through analysis of the assigned task.
  • Try to complete the assigned work on-time. And, if you feel that it would take longer to complete the assigned task, inform your superior with meaningful reasons.
  • When you are unable to complete task on time, do not come up with lame excuses such as “My machine is slow, my car broke down, I never wanted to work in it, I was not a good candidate for this task to begin with.. etc”.

Discipline

Discipline is must

  • Avoid personal internet surfing for first few days/weeks of your work. Yes ! You would like to get on Facebook/Twitter and check your personal email , just don’t surf from company’s network. Once, you’ve seen other contractor/employee doing some personal internet surfing , you may join the gang !
  • Silent your cell phone during a meeting. Do not opt for fancy Desi Movie songs as a ringtone or your kids voice as a ring tone. Using a standard and most common ring tone is just fine.
  • When you are in someone else’s office for some discussion, do not attend any phone calls on your mobile phone unless the phone call is from your superior.
  • Do not try to send /read text messages or compose email on your Smartphone while you are in someone else’s office, doing such things would prove to the other person that you are less important! And even if you need to, politely step out of the office by saying “Excuse me, I guess it is urgent and I need to take this phone call” rather than just taking the phone call and start speaking in a foreign language.

Respect Privacy

Respect Privacy

  • Desi contractor tends to enter in to anyone’s cubicle without knocking and sometime interrupts colleague’s phone call or on-going discussion. Stay away from such practice, instead ask politely, “Excuse me. Are you available for 5/10 minutes ? I have few questions on X, Y and Z”.
  • While you are discussing something with your senior, co-worker, manager in their office. And incoming calls come to that person’s work phone or cell phone. And you would know it right away from the first few words that it is a business call or personal call. Just step outside of the office as soon as you feel that the incoming call is a personal call.

Communication

Respect PrivacyCommunication is EXTREMELY important, the bottom line is: if you’re a good communicator, you’ll have better chances of success. You’re able to persuade people, influence others, negotiate effectively and provide valuable feedback. You can inspire, motivate and encourage your staff and employees. You can convey your ideas better to your boss, you can make interesting conversation and network easier and you can speak to groups of people with self-confidence and credibility. The better your communication skills, the greater success you can achieve. The importance of communication skills cannot be understated. Here are few fundamental tips for beginners.

  • Reply to email professionally with a complete sentence rather than “Done”, “Gr8”, “Moved”,”Copied”, “Sure”.Also, stay away from Chat style short words. Check the spelling and grammar mistake when you compose the email.
  • If someone helped you learn something unique, thank them individually or by email.
  • Technical folks tends to speak with a lots of technical jargons. Get a feel of your audience and communicate with them accordingly.
  • If you come across any stranger in the meeting, and no one introduces that stranger to you, then you should introduce yourself. Do not shout or speak abusive words in the meeting.
  • Stay away from speaking in a non-English language. Specially, when two or more contractors discuss the technical issue in their mother tongue, it’s a really awkward situation. Do not show any nasty expression in your mother tongue such as “Chutiye he sab log” during a discussion.
  • If you want to call home and speak/laugh/joke in a non-English language just step outside of office and do it. Speaking on phone in a non-English language on phone during office hours is an out loud indication of conducting the personal business during business hours.
  • Save all emails from your colleague and superior, this would help you prove something in case of argument of “never sent/never received” from other person.
  • Do not argue intensively when you see obvious “non-sense”. When you do see that there is a ditch (totally ridiculous code/framework/business design etc.), just inform the responsible party politely. If they still disagree and when the things really go down in to ditch, save that sent email to prove that you’ve generated adequate warning but things did go wrong. Why you need that? Some company employees tend to use contractor’s shoulder to fire a gun, and telling their boss that contractor ruined it all, contractor never informed me, contractor messed it up… In this case that saved email would come really handy, and you will not be held completely accountable for falling down to ditch circumstances.

Avoid Negative Criticism

Avoid Negative Criticism

  • Do not start criticizing the IT/Technical/Business architecture, framework etc from day one. If you do so, indirectly you are insulting the other people’s work. Someone must have done the coding under someone’s guidance at the same company, and when you share the negative opinion about such things, the company folks may not like it at all. Instead put it in better words, such as “As I analyzed the source code carefully, I came across few items which may not be up to the standard, I believe that when this code was written probably it could be state of the art code, however the current requirement and existing coding standard warrants that we follow the new standard, so my suggestion is to re-write the code while keeping the business rule as is”. But never say like “Existing code is a piece of shit/junk” or “Existing Code is sloppy”, by saying such negative things you may end up hurting someone’s feeling. In short, never say to lion that your mouth smells with flesh.

Be Honest

Be HonestAlthough it would conflict with the Dirty Tips and Tricks, but there are few things that you certainly need to be honest about.

  • If you are extended away from your cubicle for the personal reasons it would be better that you declare that time as a personal time off rather than being criticized for conducting personal business during office hours.
  • After releasing the code, developer realizes the mistake, tester reports the error and meanwhile developer would change the underlying code proving to the tester that it always worked! Stay away from such techniques it is pretty easy to catch.
  • If you are working on critical project with a high priority task, and if you cannot meet the deadline of that high priority task, inform your supervisor/manager so that contingency can be planned.

Know the environment around you

Stay in touch locallyKnowing a direction to your work and nearest Indian Grocery store and Walmart is just not adequate for your job surival. In order to be successful , you need to be able to engage yourself in the non-IT related discussion.

  • If you are going out for a lunch with American colleague, it is essential that you know the environment around you. You would be able to join the discussion with your American friends/colleagues when something important (from basketball team to a serial murder case) local news are discussed. Please note that majority of H1B employees tends to ignore it, they focus their heads on Cricket and some newspaper website of their home country and then they act like a moron or stay quiet when the other local employees are discussing some talk of the town topic.

Dress Code

What to wear at work ?

  • Whatever shall you wear to work? Before you can answer, look around you in the office – as early as the interview stage. If your boss breaks a few dress code rules, then it’s okay to adjust your wardrobe choices. Just doesn’t be the first one in the office to break the style barrier
  • Also, think about who visits your office when deciding how to dress. Is your space open to visitors, or is it strictly down-and-dirty? Are the visitors from inside the company or outside? What impression do you want to leave on them? And don’t forget company executives – top brass might not appreciate the deep cultural symbolism of your latest music concert acquisition.

Food

Indian Food

  • Many Indian food item contains the strong smell of onions and other spices. Rinse your mouth with a good quality mouthwash after eating such food in the morning and after lunch. Do not open such food in your cubicle, just to spread the smell in the entire office.
  • Also onion, garlic smells tends to get in to clothing also, so use better quality perfumes to get rid of such nasty smells in your clothes. You will never be able to notice these desai smells of your own but someone else will. And, many folks hate such a strong smell of onion and garlic.
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