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US college grads keen to join Indian firms

October 27, 2006 15:11 IST

Nicole Dun made her way through customs at Bangalore International Airport, then onto a bus bound for Mysore, India, 86 miles away. She was understandably nervous. A freshly minted 22-year-old computer-science graduate of the University of California at Davis, she was leaving the United States for the first time and on her way to her first serious job.

It wasn't at Google, or Cisco, or eBay. Along with about 300 other American college grads over the next year, Dun has signed on as a software engineer with Infosys Technologies, the red-hot Indian engineering firm that plans to add 25,000 employees to its 58,000 over the next year.

She'll train in Mysore for six months before joining Infosys's Fremont, California, office.

Only a few years ago, so-called outsourcers like Infosys were the villains of the high-tech world, accused of farming out work to dirt-cheap programmers in Indian office parks -- and putting Americans out of jobs. Now those same companies are setting up shop in the United States. More striking, there are plenty of young American engineers eager to sign up.

Infosys says more than 1,000 American college students applied for the first 126 spots in its new Global Talent Program. Why? At about $55,000 a year, Infosys's entry-level pay is comparable to that of other engineering employers. But its new hires recognize the benefits of global exposure for their careers.

"The training itself is looked upon highly by other companies," says Brandon Pletcher, a 23-year-old computer-engineering grad from the University of Arizona. "It gives us the edge to do our jobs better."

The new trainees will attend lectures and hone their programming chops, then test those skills in development centers throughout India, working on actual software projects with experienced colleagues.

Dun and Pletcher also emphasize the valuable 'cultural training' they're getting by working with other trainees from India, which is Infosys's intent.

"Creating a multicultural outlook is part of our effort to truly leverage the power of globalization," says Bikramjit Maitra, the company's head of human resources. In the multiculti spirit, it also brought a piece of America to India. "Once we got to campus, there was a bowling alley," says Dun. "I felt like I was home."

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