How it happened

In the summer 2015 I landed an internship at Google in Mountain View. Having liked it a lot, I decided to quit my PhD program, and join Google full time. After my interviews, references, and all that, I got an offer for a full-time software engineering position in Mountain View! Needles to say, I was happy with the prospect of returning to Bay Area to work at Google!

The government, however, disagreed. I’m a German citizen, so I need a work permit to work in the US. When you study in the US, you get an F1 visa. After finishing your studies, you can work in US for a year with something called OPT (+17 months STEM extension for scientists/engineers/etc, so total around 2 years and a half for me). In my PhD program, we got masters degrees on the way, so I was eligible for OPT because of my masters degree. But the trick is that you need to apply for it within 60 days after getting your degree, and not upon leaving the program (the PhD program in this case). I got my masters last May: BIG mistake. Getting my masters in May meant that I only had 60 days after that to apply for OPT, and that deadline was long gone when I got the job offer! Dear international PhD students: do NOT get a masters degree on your way, even if your department offers it. Wait until you leave the program, and apply for the degree upon departure.

While different options were explored, it eventually came down to 2:

  • Waiting until April and applying for H1B visa, which I was told has odds of around 20%, and I can only start working in October.
  • Work outside the US for Google for a year, and then return with L1 visa.

It was around December when I got my offer, and waiting until October with the odds of around 20% didn’t seem like a smart thing to do. So it was decided that I would start in Zurich — thanks to EU/EEA rules, I don’t need a work permit to work in Switzerland.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I like the US a lot, and right now, I’m decided to settle down here, so I didn’t wanna go back to Europe. On the other hand, I always had an admiration towards Switzerland (low taxes, nature, banking, how organized they are etc.), so I’m excited about living there for a while! Also, there are many places I didn’t visit when I lived in Europe, taking it for granted, so this is a perfect opportunity for me to visit them all!

I’m really looking forward to my upcoming year! I’m hoping to achieve a lot career-wise, travel, enjoy Google life, and make as many experiences as possible. I created this blog to share those experiences!