should I choose India over an internal job offer?

A reader writes:

After graduating from law school in 2009, I spent most of 2010 floundering through the awful job market. In January of this year, I finally landed a good, non-legal job with a fortune 500 company. After 10 weeks, however, they informed us (original team of 6 plus 6 new J.D. hires) that they were “migrating” (read: outsourcing) our jobs to India. This won’t happen until late October and I’ve been applying internally and externally for about a month.

There will likely be an opportunity for me to actually go to India for 2 months to train the new team, all expenses paid. I’ve had 3 meetings about this and am enamored with the idea. I would also be given extra time, after returning, to find another job. I have interviewed for 2 internal jobs, one of which is a great fit with my background and could possibly a good career move. So my question is this: would India, as a resume boost and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, be worth foregoing an internal job offer?

Would it be enough of a resume boost to forego the certainty a more long-term job? No, not in most cases. Work experience in other countries is at a minimum interesting and can be attractive to some employers for some jobs, but will it rocket you to the head of the pack? Not in most cases.

Would the opportunity itself — living and working in a foreign country for two months — be worth it, in a non-career sense? Maybe. That’s a whole different question, and only you can decide how much that’s worth to you.

Something to ask yourself as you’re deciding: If you return from India and can’t find a job for a while, will you regret having gone? Or will the experience be worth it to you anyway?

If you do go, make sure that you get everything in writing, particularly their offer to give you time to job search when you return. If you’re relying on that in your decision, you want to make sure you have it locked in.

Want to read an update to this post? The reader’s update several months later is here.

{ 20 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Well, it depends on your current situation, if you find an offer for nice job here; you may have a choice. Otherwise, it make sense to go to India and gain vital and very important international experience, which will definitely boost your resume and career and make good money as well, instead for filing for a unemployment benefit and waiting.. when there is over 9% unemployment here. As you know, Indian economy is literally thriving like never before and GDP is growing around 9% and will continue for many more years… Good luck for your job hunt!!

  2. Nate*

    From what I gather from this post, the poster could potentially have his cake and eat it too. If the hiring manager of the internal job sees benefit in the poster going to India, he could have that experience and have a career in place for when he returns.

    I think if the poster explains its a business necessity for him to go to India, and he gets an internal job offer, they may understand.

    1. Dave*

      This is what I was thinking too. I know that 2 months may be a long time for the hiring manager to wait, but then again, sometimes it’s not actually that bad if the right candidate comes along.

  3. Anon y. mouse*

    Ooh, interesting opportunity! If you like to travel, living and working somewhere (even briefly) will give you a totally different perspective than going as a tourist. Would it be a big resume boost? I doubt it, unless you’re in a career path where working with Indian subcontractors is a large portion of your responsibilities. I like Nate’s suggestion – it’d be worth mentioning the potential trip to wrap up the end of your current position to the internal hiring manager, and see if their plans are flexible enough to allow for that. Hopefully they’ll see that it would be good for the company, if not the worst they can say is no.

    (AAM’s advice is good, though. If you turn down the internal job offer, make sure you have it in writing that a) you’re actually going to India, and b) you will get that extra job-hunting time. )

  4. Anonymous*

    My decision to leave the US for a job experience overseas (Hong Kong) has certainly been one of the best decisions I have made – both in my career and in my personal experience. Nearly four years later, I’m still here and have been rapidly progressed in my career. It sounds to me like you may have a great opportunity to continue to work for the firm, and have a great experience – with the opportunity to come back and hopefully continue to work for the company. Often companies may see this decision as willing to take a risk for the benefit of the company and this may also shine a positive light on you as an employee. Definitely make sure the offer is in writing, as suggested, but I think it sounds like a great and exciting opportunity.

  5. Jeff*

    Thanks for the advice everyone! As it turns out, I was informed yesterday (I emailed AAM on Thursday) that I did NOT get the internal position. I should get offered India this week. I was the only one to inquire about the possibility of going out there so they’re kindof developing this position for me. If I can’t find a job in the 8 weeks or so after I get back, I’d get 8 weeks’ severance.

    1. Anonymous*

      Good luck! I’m sure you’re in for an exciting ride. Be open to the experience and I hope you will have that job ready for you 8 weeks later, and if not, maybe a chance to stay a bit longer in India! Never know where these roads will take you!

    2. Anonymous*

      Good luck, Jeff!

      I agree with AAM: Get everything in writing!

      Mostly, enjoy and be safe if you do end up going!

  6. Anonymous*

    This is a no-brainer in my opinion : get the international experience.

    I’ve spent time India and have friends who passed on U.S. Jobs to work with InfoSys and Wipro to name a few. If you can handle the lifestyle, there are PLENTY of companies willing to take on American talent. You will make a salary likely 30-60% less than what you would get here, but if you can turn this into a 2 year consulting gig with say Tata, you will be way ahead of the game and better positioned for promotion back in the U.S. Huge opportunities in India if you are willing to go outside your comfort zone.

    Anyone telling you not to take the international opportunity is clearly misinformed and likely a round or two away from the next downsizing.

  7. Alphager*

    I have to strongly disagree with our manager here; the Indian experience will be extremely valuable career-wise.

    The run to outsource to India hasn’t even begun yet. Until recently, we outsourced low-level jobs (think uninformed call-center agents). The next wave of outsourcing will be/is Business Process Outsourcing; in effect outsourcing whole divisions. Understanding the culture and being able to cross the inter-cultural barriers is valuable today and will be even more valuable tomorrow.

  8. Anonymous*

    I am curious what company this is…..I’ll admit that I tend to boycott companies that outsource, so yeah, that’s why I want to know.

  9. Interviewer*

    Has anyone in the company done this before, and can you speak to them about their experiences? They may have some cautionary tales about the financial side of things that you haven’t considered. But I would still be eager to pursue it. If none of those internal positions are offered to you, I would jump at the chance.

    If you are still hoping to pursue a career in law, experience in an international setting can be very valuable to the right practice area. Consider how a law firm’s recruiting manager would view the position as a plus to the firm. Training others can be an important step in building a career path. Consider how the scope of the position can change while you’re over there, or how much more valuable you might be to the company upon your return.

    Good luck to you! I think it sounds like an exciting opportunity.

  10. BossLady*

    I think it would be a good idea, to back up what other’s are saying about the value of international experience, there was an article in last March’s issue of HBR. Attached is the link on their site, but you need a subscription to read the whole thing…

    The short of it was that in their profile of “The New CEO” and what kind of experiences and skills s/he has these days, international experience ranked fairly high.

  11. Suz*

    One thing no one else has mentioned is the job in India could wind up lasting for more than 2 months. It’s pretty common for the scope of the project to change once you get there and 2 months can turn into 6.

  12. Nicky*

    To add a note of caution, my job has recently been bought over by a large company with big focus on offshoring work to India and are starting their overseas training programme shortly. A few of my colleagues are going over as trainers for 3 weeks – however, while expenses will be paid, they’ll recieve no extra pay for taking on the extra role, and from what I hear from people who have worked with this employer before, they can expect little in the way of managerial support, or time to enjoy the surroundings. If you don’t get any other solid offers, then by all means go to India, but be aware you may not get the cultural experience you hoped for. However, if you get offered another position (either external or internal) and it’s not possible to flex your start date around India, I would have no qualms in ditching the trip for a firm job offer. I would feel I owed little to an employer that didn’t have the foresight to not take on new hires 10 weeks before announcing a migration programme – and further still, I would find it quite hard to essentially train myself out of a job. You’re made of sterner stuff than I!

    Anyway as others have said, get that severance in writing – and be wary of your employers taking advantage of your enthusiasm to share your skills overseas!

  13. Liz*

    I have several friends who accepted similar opportunities. My impression, with all due respect to my friends, is that these “training and leadership” opportunities are not looked on highly in the legal field. One friend used the experience to find a position on staff at a big law firm as a doc review supervisor – a job for which he was already qualified before he left, in a field that is shrinking rapidly.

    The others are still looking for work. And when they talk about their “experience living overseas,” it doesn’t actually sound like they spent much time outside the employer’s facility.

  14. glo*

    The first time I travelled to India was in 2004 also due to a migration where I was to be the trainer and I absolutely loved it! The trip was supposed to be 4 months but was extended to 6 (so keep that in mind). After that, I became an International Trainer and my role was to train processes that were migrated to India or the Philippines and travelled to India each year from 2004 to 2008. I had an amazing time and loved the food, culture, and wearing sarees, etc. You do get to network quite a bit, especially if you are outgoing, on your business-class flights, and at the hotel you stay at. The whole experience was great for my resume.

  15. Blessed*

    Alison – You have done a great job in summing up the issues in a job – the slideshow is just about perfect. Just like common sense is not so common – good managers are difficult to happen. I feel blessed to have started off on my own and found success – for other people who meet the real life characters from your slideshow I hope they come across your blog!

Comments are closed.