It’s 6 am on a Friday morning, and I found myself on a San Francisco street corner waiting in a line spanning two blocks. You might be thinking that I was trying to obtain the latest Apple product, or anticipating a Black Friday early morning opening; however, my purpose of waiting in this line was less than glamorous – getting a visa. This extra sticker in my passport would allow me to travel with Capgemini’s OnBoarding program to India for 5 weeks. Little did I know on that street corner that the OnBoarding experience would not only change my perspective of the world, but also prepare me more than I could have imagined for my future career. Here are the top five things I learned in the five weeks that I lived in India.
1. How to be aware of my surroundings
Only a couple weeks removed from the bubble of my college town, India was quite the culture shock. However, traveling with 30 other college hires (who quickly turned into great friends) halfway across the globe made the experience priceless. Residing in Mumbai, we soon found out what it was like to live in a city with a density of 60,000 people per square mile. We learned how to navigate crowds (and stray animals) on sidewalks. We learned that rickshaw drivers and street vendors aren’t always honorable in doing business with tourists. We also learned that walking into the street is not always a good idea (let’s just say that there was a lot of creative driving).
The training that we received in India was invaluable. Capgemini’s Indian colleagues were extremely helpful, but there were times when I did get lost in the material. I learned when to ask for help, and therefore, was able to form relationships with our Indian peers. From the hotel staff to Capgemini’s Indian colleagues, the people of Mumbai genuinely wanted to help us, and their selfless attitude was infectious.
3. Appreciativeness of my home
Not only did India broaden my horizons, it gave me a deep appreciation for my home, and shed light on things that I take for granted. Although I had a great time in India, there were times when I missed my home, family, and American food.
Used the fast paced life of the U.S., I definitely had my patience tried with day to day activities. We all had our fair share of WiFi troubles in the hotel – most nights it would not work. Some things I enjoyed (like the later work hours in the mornings); however, it was a great learning experience to figure out how to adapt to work in a different culture.
5. How to have fun
Of the many lessons I learned over the course of my adventure in India, I found that making the most out of any situation is critical when traveling for work. Whether it was in the classroom or out exploring new surroundings, my Capgemini peers and I found ways to enjoy ourselves, which made our experience unique and invaluable. One weekend, we traveled to Goa, a beach community south of Mumbai. Another weekend, we visited the Taj Mahal in Agra and explored the capital city of New Delhi. Living in India gave me perspective, as I learned ways to find the right balance of taking things seriously while still having fun.
I am extremely grateful to have been able to travel internationally with Capgemini’s Onboarding Program. The program taught me way more than just the technical side of training. My biggest piece of advice to someone that will go through this program is to take advantage of all opportunities presented.