Five things to boost your career when on the H4 visa

So we have all been there. The excitement and apprehension of moving to the US with our spouse, but learning soon after that we can not ‘work’ in the US as we are on the ‘H4 Visa’. The H4 ladies span all ages, young college grads looking to make a mark and thirty-somethings right in the middle of a thriving career. And here you are, not able to live the dream of working and establishing yourself in the new land, while you wait for a work visa or green card to come through. Its hard, those stay at home days without a job, family or the many roots that support you. The long naps, the midnight trips to Kroger, the evening drives with hubby.
But while you are figuring out the new country, while you will not be earning money, you don’t have to necessarily put your career on hold. I’d say, look at it as a time to invest in you. To prevent stagnation, here’s what you can do:

  1. Continue your education: This is probably the most obvious and effective way of using your downtime.  If you like studying or are looking for a career change, this may be the route to go. The benefits are  Of course, it costs money, but scholarship programs may help out, especially after a semester of two of good results. Also, you may need to change your visa to a student visa, definitely for the full time ones. Check with your lawyer.
    1. A masters degree or PHD: You can, of course, take the GRE or GMAT and join the university in town or relocate to a town with universities you want to go to.
    2. Completing your Bachelors: If you have completed your bachelors in a country like India, you probably have three years of study behind you. A recognized degree in the US usually needs about 4 years of graduate education, so it may make sense to complete your bachelors here. You may get some credits for your study back home, but often times not as much as you like. Still, it’s worth the investment if you are thinking of a career here.
    3. A vocational course: Nurses and teachers are in high demand. If that fits your dream, you may decide to go down the route of a vocational course that helps you get a license and be ready for work when your green card or work visa does come through
    4. Evening Courses: This means seeing even less of your husband, but they are often cheaper and easier to get into even with prime universities. Explore the ones in your area
    5. Technical Courses and certifications: You can use a variety of books or online courses for technical certifications to bolster your resume.
  2. Network outside your network: Intuitively when we arrive here we seek friends we knew back home or those we know through weekend parties and our cultural gatherings. These networks are a social safety net, great fun and an absolute necessity. But they should not be your only bet in finding a job or boosting your career. For one, these networks are often of a particular ethnicity or national affiliation. When you work in America, you have to look beyond. So seek out other networking venues. TIE (http://www.tie.org/) may have local chapters that have great events to attend. Or your school and college may have alumni associations here. Check out your country’s dominant social networking sites to look for people in town. I attended a TIE event once and landed up learning about another network – an international supper club which was more fun.
  3. Join a Professional Association or two: I didn’t realize the importance of these till well into my American career. The US is the land of professional networks. Not only do they give you a chance to meet like minded people in the same profession and build a business network, it’s a great way to freshen up your skills in the new country and push your platform.

    1. Google your profession (say Supply Chain Management) and ‘association’ and chances are you will land with a list of associations of like minded people.
    2.  Look through the ‘events’ section and the ‘about’ section or the ‘local chapters section (for example,  http://cscmp.org/ for supply chain management).
    3. Try and event or two. If the events are good, and you like the group, consider joining. Now I will caution you though, all associations don’t work for everyone, and some may not even be good, so try out before committing to a membership.
    4. The fees may be expensive sometimes, but perhaps can be offset against volunteering. Which brings me to the next point…
  4. Volunteer : Growing up volunteering was something housewives did as part of ‘social work’ or part of school projects. Here, and this is one of the things I love about the US, people love volunteering and they are passionate about what they volunteer in. Senior managers with full time jobs find time to find causes they will fight for. So you meet people from many of you local companies. There are literally thousands of organizations available, so find one that’s your passion.
     

    • You learn valuable skills about working in this country
    • It gives you international experience.
    • It gives a world of business contacts you have already met in an informal setting
    • It gets you out of the house and in the new office environment
    • Of course, if it’s a worthy cause, you do a world of good J

Note: You don’t have to volunteer for a non-profit. Sometimes for profit organizations like labs or universities or schools may have volunteer opportunities. More on volunteering here.

5. Build a platform : While you are technically at home, there’s nothing stopping you from doing some PR on the sly. Some ideas

  1.  
    1. Start a blog
    2. Ask associations for speaking assignments
    3. Research and write articles, maybe with slant on your own country (given the importance of globalization) for professional publications which are often looking for these.
    4. If writing is not for you, participate in online forums.
    5. Join linkedin, and build a profile. See who connects to you and what kinds of jobs are offered.

 None of this is easy. But it takes away some of the isolation and when time comes around, you will have a freshened resume for your job. What are some of your ideas? I would love to know. Also, I wrote about the first interview after a H4 hiatus and things I learnt from interviews in general. Also, after feedback from this one, five true qualities of a H4er.

A new post on what I think I did right to land a job here.

And volunteering on H4 and some ideas to try to make your time more productive. Here is one more post on things to remember when choosing a volunteer job. Here are some tips for the first networking event.

Read a serialized story on H4 life here..

And one on just some ideas to enjoy your time on H4 here. I am sure you have more ideas, do share!

Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Last 5 posts by Amrita Bakshi



41 Comments

  1. vinita_aries

    its really good and motivating

  2. Amrita

    Thank you for your comment, Vinita, I appreciate your feedback

  3. sm

    Amrita, your work is exceptionally good. Please keep it up. I was searching for a story to write and I think I got it. I found a good title too. Thanks a ton.

  4. Amrita

    Thank you sm. I really appreciate it. Are you a writer? I read your blog (some posts) and I like your thoughts. Couldnt understand though if you are a writer by profession or trying to get into it or just love writing stories.

  5. sm

    No I am not a professional writer. Very green at it. But just attempting to churn out something which relates to people I come across in my daily life.

  6. Amrita

    That sounds cool! I will follow your blog to see. All the best. I love doing that too, writing I mean.

  7. priyanka

    Hi Amrita,
    I read your blog about the “five things to do to boost your career when you are on H4″ and i could so relate to your point of view. I am on H4 and it has just been 6 months in the US. Initially i face the same chalenges but now i decide to resume to my studies n very soon will be joing county colg. I agree with you when u state that one has to be more receptive to cultural diversity.Tagging with people of the same community does not help that much.It was simply wonderul to read it and gain some tips to enhance my life.

  8. Amrita

    I am so glad to hear from you and glad you are joining college again. I actually found my first job networking outside the community, so I wrote that. Thanks very much.

  9. ridz

    Hi,

    If you want to Volunteer your region/home town to make it greener, cleaner and healthier, you can do it through http://www.Kandmool.com. Click on ‘Become a Change Enabler’ and see what can you do. You simply have to inform your decisions as an Eco and Health Conscious consumer.
    Take charge. Publish your ideas and make the world a better place to live.

    I am Change Enabler
    Riddhi

  10. ridz

    Hi,

    If you want to Volunteer your region/home town to make it greener, cleaner and healthier, you can do it through http://www.Kandmool.com. Click on ‘Become a Change Enabler’ and see what can you do. You simply have to inform your decisions as an Eco and Health Conscious consumer.
    Take charge. Publish your ideas and make the world a better place to live.

    I am a Change Enabler at Kandmool.com
    Riddhi

  11. Khushi

    Amrita, need some more of your posts

  12. Pradnya

    Hi, i am from cape cod, no Indian community so i am getting boared, & also facing same problem. Until i thought H4 life is worse ever (of course when hubby is not at home), but after reading ur article i am very impressed. Now i  will do something, Thanks.

  13. Amrita

    Pradnya, so glad to hear that. Getting feedback inspires me. Thank you very much! Let me know how it goes, and if I can help in anything.

  14. Sonia

    Great post Amrita!! Very inspiring! We all are aware of the identity crisis that many girls experience after they get married and come to the United States of America on a dependent visa. The alarming number of stories about depression and loneliness experienced by H-4 wives inspired me to find a medium that’ll allow me to share my secret of leading a life full of happiness and sheer bliss while being on a dependent visa. And I thought the best medium to deliver my message would be through a book.

    My book “H-4 Fortune Cookies” is dedicated to all the H-4 wives who believe that “life is a struggle” in a new country, especially when it involves leaving behind a well paying job, a stable career, or promising educational achievements in their respective home countries. It is for those who believe that they are not free despite living in a free country – “The Land of Opportunity”; that they have sacrificed and surrendered a significant part of themselves to their restrictive immigration statuses. It contains 50 Inspirational Thoughts written by me, who was fortunate enough to have enjoyed every moment being a H-4 wife!

    I want to share my good fortune with all the H-4 wives in the form of these 50 Fortune Cookies that stood by me during tough times. I sincerely hope that the thoughts in my book spark a ray of hope in the lives of all those wives who left their homelands to be in a progressive country, yet feel constrained due to their immigration statuses. I deeply desire to liberate all the H-4 wives from their mental inhibitions and inspire them to realize their dreams while being on a dependent visa.

    Share the good fortune by passing along these fortune cookies that are stocked with a lot of goodness and hope for all those who need a fresh perspective about “life on H-4″.

    My book is available in the form of an e-book and can be downloaded from the following link:www.ejunkie.com/ecom/gb.php?i=759677&c=single&cl=122095

    Experience the joy in spreading hope & inspiration through the fortune cookies in my book!

    Lots of Happiness & Light
    Sonia

  15. Pallavi

    Hi, Great post Amrita, I really admire your post. It is very encouraging and inspiring. Also would like to let our readers know about something can be done at home. My friend is doing an online business and he is rocking. He is now looking for expansion. If you are open minded to earn some extra money in your spare time, sitting at home. Call us at 732 983 6767 . Please call us between 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM EST or on weekend anytime – Shreyash & Pallavi

  16. Marina

    Hi! Thanks for such great and encouraging artilce! I’m going to US soon and it will be H4 visa, so I want to prepare myself to it. And wanted to ask you if it is allowed to get profit online on H4. For example, there are a lot of stock photo sites, where you can upload photos and get money when they are sold. So it can be good combination of interesting hobby and getting some money, but I’m not sure if I can get that money being on H4. What do you think?

  17. Khushi

    Hi Marina. I think it is best to contact your immigration lawyer to ask that question. It is always better to be safe than sorry with any immigration question, especially as you are just getting here.

  18. Trisha

    Hi..I am on H4 visa and just came to know that being on H4 I can study or do some short courses. Can you suggest me some professional courses which are helpful in obtaining a job. By the way I did Ph.D. in plant biotechnology in India.

  19. Veena

    Hello everyone

    I am on H4 visa and I am so depressed being stuck at home… I tried GRE but it didnt go well.. My scores are too low and now I hate myself more… I wanted to get a job here… I have a master’s degree in biotechnology and was trying to do phd here… but now I am looking to get a job… Can any
    one suggest me some courses to do so that I can get a job…

  20. Sonia Saraf

    Hi Veena,

    I urge you to read my book which can be downloaded for free from the following link. It is dedicated to H-4 Wives.

    You might have noticed a comment about it posted by me on this thread of discussion. And this message is not only for Veena, it is for all the readers of this post. Please take charge of your life. H-4 is not the end!
    Please focus on what “you can do” on H-4 rather than “what you cannot”. I assure you it will change your perspective about living life on H-4. I hope my book inspires you at some level.

    Wishing you lots of happiness & light
    Sonia

  21. Priya

    Hello to everyone ,

    I am recently married and will soon be travelling to US on H4.I have come across many people sharing depressing thoughts about life on H4.Thanks guys for making my spirit high:)
    I am a working professional,hence soon I will be in the same situation.:(Just wanted to know more about life there and what else can be done to make it more interesting.

    Cheers!
    Priya

  22. Maria

    Olá,
    Hoje deparei com este blog…
    Gostei… Vi-me em muitas das frases aqui descritas ….Esposa H4.

    Vim para os Estados Unidos há cerca de um ano. No início não sabia o que era um Visto H4, hoje sei: solidão, inercia, dependência, saber fazer e não fazer nada…
    Gostava de adquirir um pouco da minha independência perdida, ter de volta o “meu dinheiro” a minha alegria de Viver e levantar todos os dias…;
    Trabalhei desde os 14 anos em restaurantes, sou ótima cozinheira, trabalhava em decoração de casamentos e festas, organizada, mexida, profissional, tenho bacharelato de 3 anos e outros de atividade na área Agronómica.
    Onde começar… neste momento estou perdida…

  23. Manaswini

    Hey !! nice blogging ! im a stay home mom with H4 visa status in Phx AZ. Am im so thankful to find this opportunity to earn legally. YES 100% LEGALLY !! Im no only productive though out the day but also help my hubby with plenty of tax breaks. i hope i dont sound like a scam. u can mail me at wini dot manas at gmail dot com to know more.

  24. Archana

    Thank you for your suggestions & tips. I have been in this country for six months now on H4 visa and I am losing hope each day to find a job. Can you help provide some tips on how to build your resume while on H4? Thanks

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