The worst you can get is a ‘NO’. But you’ll never know that if you don’t ask.

Own your individuality. Don’t stress about how you are not like the typical person in your profession, but instead focus on the unique strengths you bring to the table”

Rama Karve is a Femigrant from Pune, India. She works as a Software Engineer at Facebook

Rama was one of the engineers at Amazon who worked on the first couple of generations of Kindle.She was the only woman on their team for the first four months.

Rama moved to the United States in 2001 after completing her degree in Technical Computer Engineering. She was torn between getting a job in her homeland and pursuing a higher education in America. At the time, she and her husband (who lived in the States) had started courting so that was a factor that helped her decide on the latter.

In 2003, Rama got her Master’s degree in Texas before moving to Michigan to settle down with her husband. There, she got a job as an engineer at a research company where she worked with a number of PhD graduates from the University of Michigan. Later in 2005, she received a job offer from Amazon to work as an entry level engineer. This, however, required her to move to Seattle, which she did, while her husband stayed back in Michigan working on his Master’s degree.

At Amazon, Rama was one of the engineers who worked on the first couple of generations of Kindle. “Being a part of that revolution meant a lot to me”, says Rama. She spent 9 years with Amazon before she decided it was time to try something different.

She got a job with Facebook working on their Video platform. By then she had had her now 6 year old son. Being a working mother was not an easy task for her. Her career already demanded a lot from her so she had to set boundaries and divide her time between that and motherhood. “Learning to set those boundaries and being ok with them myself regardless of all other external expectations, was almost harder because it constantly had me wondering if I was good enough at my job even though no one had ever told me otherwise”- Rama.

While it is still challenging to juggle work with motherhood, Rama has learnt to find a balance between the two. One of the important lessons she has also learnt while living in America is that it doesn’t hurt to ask. “The worst you can get is a NO. But you’ll never know that if you don’t ask”- Rama. She found that she could speak up and be heard. Something that was not really a part of her upbringing back in India. This was apparent to her in her career during meetings and even up to negotiating her work compensation package.

Now a senior engineer with Facebook, Rama hopes to teach her child that it’s ok to be different. She hopes to encourage him to accept and embrace his individuality instead of conforming like she did. She did not even think she would still be an engineer today. She had thought she would do it for a few years only then move on to something like project management later. If she was given the chance to start from scratch, she would get into her own startup company instead of sticking to the stability of established companies.

Rama’s advice to Femigrants “Own your individuality. Try not to stress about how you are not like the typical person in your profession, but instead focus on the unique strengths you bring to the table.”

Editor: Veronika Takayawa

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