Career Curves

Keep Pushing Ahead with Saiman Shetty

April 01, 2021 Host, Beth Davies Season 3 Episode 4
Career Curves
Keep Pushing Ahead with Saiman Shetty
Chapters
Career Curves
Keep Pushing Ahead with Saiman Shetty
Apr 01, 2021 Season 3 Episode 4
Host, Beth Davies

Making moves into new roles and new companies can be challenging, especially if people are telling you what you want to do isn’t available to you or you’re an immigrant needing to get over visa hurdles. Our guest on this episode, Saiman Shetty, technical program manager of robots at Nuro, has faced and overcome these challenges, not by luck or chance but by design. With perseverance, determination, and a lot of hard work, he’s crafted a career journey that includes working for companies like Tesla and Lyft. It includes side hustles as an entrepreneur founding and launching his own companies. And, it includes navigating student and work visas until finally receiving an EB-1A "Einstein Visa" in 2019, giving him the right to work in the US indefinitely. He has an interesting story to tell filled with rich advice for anyone navigating their career.

Meet the Guest
Saiman Shetty is a Technical Program Manager for Robots at Nuro. Previously, he worked at Tesla and also played a pivotal role as one of the founding members of Lyft's self-driving team. He is an immigrant entrepreneur who heads the product team at ResumePuppy, and has been awarded the "Einstein Visa" or EB-1A Green Card. He is now using his experience with his own EB-1A journey to help immigrants via his course, "Smart Green Card". He is very active on LinkedIn, and posts frequently on Robotics & AI topics. He's also an avid outdoors person who loves to hike a lot!

Links
ResumePuppy.com
Smart Green Card. Be sure to check out the free mini-course.
Note: Career Curves will earn a small commission off any purchases made through these links. This will not affect the price you pay.

Show Notes Transcript

Making moves into new roles and new companies can be challenging, especially if people are telling you what you want to do isn’t available to you or you’re an immigrant needing to get over visa hurdles. Our guest on this episode, Saiman Shetty, technical program manager of robots at Nuro, has faced and overcome these challenges, not by luck or chance but by design. With perseverance, determination, and a lot of hard work, he’s crafted a career journey that includes working for companies like Tesla and Lyft. It includes side hustles as an entrepreneur founding and launching his own companies. And, it includes navigating student and work visas until finally receiving an EB-1A "Einstein Visa" in 2019, giving him the right to work in the US indefinitely. He has an interesting story to tell filled with rich advice for anyone navigating their career.

Meet the Guest
Saiman Shetty is a Technical Program Manager for Robots at Nuro. Previously, he worked at Tesla and also played a pivotal role as one of the founding members of Lyft's self-driving team. He is an immigrant entrepreneur who heads the product team at ResumePuppy, and has been awarded the "Einstein Visa" or EB-1A Green Card. He is now using his experience with his own EB-1A journey to help immigrants via his course, "Smart Green Card". He is very active on LinkedIn, and posts frequently on Robotics & AI topics. He's also an avid outdoors person who loves to hike a lot!

Links
ResumePuppy.com
Smart Green Card. Be sure to check out the free mini-course.
Note: Career Curves will earn a small commission off any purchases made through these links. This will not affect the price you pay.

Beth Davies, host: It's fair to say that for most of us deciding what we want to do in our careers and making moves into new roles and new companies is challenging. What if you faced additional challenges, like having people tell you what you want to do isn't available to you, or being surrounded by people who are highly negative, or being an immigrant and needing to get past visa hurdles.

Our guest on this episode, Saiman Shetty, technical program manager of robots at Nuro has faced and overcome these challenges, not by luck or chance, but by design. 

Welcome to Career Curves, where we talk to people who have interesting careers and explore how they got, where they are. I'm your host, Beth Davies and I am thrilled to have Saiman here to share his career journey with us. 

It includes working as an electrical engineer and technical program manager in robotics and artificial intelligence for companies like Tesla and Lyft. It includes side hustles as an entrepreneur founding and launching his own companies. And it includes navigating through a series of student and work visas until finally receiving an Einstein visa in 2019, giving him the right to work in the US indefinitely. 

He has an interesting story to tell. So let's dive in. 

Saiman, thank you so much for joining me. 

Saiman Shetty, guest: It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for doing this. 

Beth: I want to start by going back in time. So, let's go back to your childhood, your family, and where you grew up. Tell me about that. 

Saiman: I had a mixed growing up. I grew up part of my life in a farm in India. It was nothing out of the ordinary. We had access to good schools and good education, but in general, at least back then and I'm talking about like 10 years ago, it was not a very mainstream trend to pursue your highest studies or to pursue a career outside of India. I kept thinking through high school and the first couple years of college, "What next? What happens after four or five years?" 

This thought process kept bugging me in that I did not have much clarity. Then, I started turning to things that I was passionate about and started digging deeper into that.

Beth: So for college, what did you end up studying? 

Saiman: I ended up studying electrical engineering. Well, it was a hybrid. There's this program called "Electrical and Electronics" and that's what I ended up taking up. 

The rationale behind that was I wanted to go hyper-focused into aerospace, but it is very niche.  At the same time, I also thought, in my bachelor's, if I focus on something that is relatively generic or relatively applicable across areas or across streams, then I'll be better served because I'll have the flexibility to choose what to go into. Not choosing aerospace and choosing electrical engineering, like I did, helped me because a couple years into electrical engineering, I understood that control systems was the thing that I actually liked. So, I gained more clarity and moved away from going into it just because it sounded cool to the actual stuff in it. 

Beth: Did you use internships or any jobs while you were in college to help you get this clarity? 

Saiman: In my college days, I didn't get straight A's or anything like that, but I was spending long hours in the lab, late into the night, trying to get stuff working.  I realized that that kept me excited because actually getting my hands dirty in the labs with the real stuff gave me more meaning to being an engineer. And I think that was really important. 

Beth: There is a side of you that is an entrepreneur.  You started a company while you were still in college, College Gear. Tell me about that first experience being an entrepreneur. Why did you do that while you are also in school?

Saiman: I feel like doing things is the biggest teacher of all. It gives you evidence-based teaching about what works and what doesn't work. 

College festivals were a huge thing in India and I think they still are. Typically, there's two festivals in a year. One is cultural and one is technical. One common theme that stretch across all of that was swag. People wanted swag to publicize it or to enjoy what happened, and to make money as a stream of revenue for them as well. 

So I was like, "What if we centralize all the swag creation and have a relationship with the vendors and, in the process, whatever arbitrage amount we make is the amount we make?" It looked like a business opportunity to optimize that system. 

But I didn't know anything about the math. What I did was literally, "This t-shirt costs X and these people are willing to pay Y for it. And Y minus X is what I made." Little did I know that there's interstate taxes, sales taxes. I was basically thinking that the net was equal to gross. 

Beth: Did you end up making any money at all? 

Saiman: Yeah, a little bit. I ended up not losing money. 

Beth: And what happened to that business when you left college? 

Saiman: We serviced all the customers that we had and then gracefully brought it to an end. 

Beth: As you were finishing college, you had started to discover you had greater interest in controls and that side of engineering. So, what sort of a plan did you start to put together for yourself after college?

Saiman: I was thinking, "Okay, so I need to pursue something that is the next stage in control systems." I was looking at different opportunities in India for graduate education, but at the same time, I also was looking at possible opportunities for me to get top-of-the-line industry experience and industry contacts. A lot of exciting things along those lines, especially in control systems, were happening in the United States. That made me really excited. 

Beth: So now you're deciding on grad school in the US, which is a huge move. As you shared before, this isn't something that a lot of people around you had done before. How did you get the courage to make this move?

Saiman: I just did an A/B analysis of what would happen if I continued my education in India and stayed in India, and what would happen if I moved abroad and exposed myself to new experiences.  If I continued in India, I would not step a lot outside of my comfort zone and that would be easy sailing for me. But I didn't like the idea of not having things that push me. 

Conversely, I was feeling that going anywhere abroad was the first step for me to get exposed to a culture that is not what I have experienced, which would really shake me up and make me ready for the world. I wanted that experience really badly. 

Beth: Does this mean you weren't nervous about making this move? 

Saiman: I knew that there were a lot of uncertain things, but the excitement of facing the world and learning a lot of new things somehow superseded that. I remember I got on the plane and until I touched down in Phoenix, Arizona, I was super, super excited.  I was like, "Hey, what could go wrong?" And the moment I stepped outside of the airport in Sky Harbor, reality struck me. I realized, "Okay, it's 12:00 in the afternoon and everyone I know and love is asleep. What did I do? Why did I need to do this?" 

Beth: I love what you're saying about the excitement and perhaps the naivete encouraging you to just go and let reality hit you later.

Coming to Arizona State for grad school was the first visa that you had to get. So you needed, I imagine, a student visa. Tell me about that experience and that process. 

Saiman: Getting a student visa to the US, especially during the Obama administration when I applied, I wouldn't call that a huge, difficult hurdle that I had to swim across. It was fairly smooth sailing. A student visa is not actually a difficult task. If you are a legitimate student intending to come to the US to actually study and are going to a legitimate university for a legitimate program, it is not at all difficult. 

Beth: When you have a student visa, does that allow you, while you're a student, to get internships and other part-time jobs or are you restricted solely to being a student?

Saiman: It does, but there are a lot of caveats that you need to be cognizant of. 

Beth: Tell me about internships that you had. 

Saiman: So going through grad school in general was a pretty bittersweet experience for me. When you are in a circle of immigrant students, it sometimes gets a little bit daunting. There are a lot of people around you that are subject to the same circumstances as you and that breeds a good amount of negativity and paranoia. That is more contagious than optimism. So, all I remember hearing around me was, "It's super difficult to get a job. It's super difficult to get an internship. Hardly anyone makes it." 

On top of that, I chose control systems, mainly because I loved control systems and that was what I wanted to do. But, little did I know that a majority of the job opportunities in control systems belong in the Aerospace, Defense and Aviation sectors, which are all protected. You need to be a US citizen or a green card holder to actually get those jobs. I didn't know that. I was like, "Okay, I'm going to do this and then I'm going to get a job in one of these fancy aerospace companies, and then that'll be smooth sailing." But I didn't know about all of these restrictions.  

So, all this negativity further bred because I was in control systems. I thought, "A majority of the jobs are closed to me. I am following my passion here doing control systems, but what am even I doing?" 

The one medicine that I used to face that negativity and come out of it was to keep myself extremely busy in something. Whatever it is. Extremely busy. I didn't want to have time to even think about all this other drama or negativity that exists around me. I made it a point to stay out of my apartment for a majority of the time and just come to my apartment to sleep.  T

hat pushed me to finding a campus job, which a lot of people said, "No, it's not possible." It is possible, but it's very difficult. I probably gave close to a hundred interviews before getting my first campus job, because it was so competitive. I still remember the way I bombed my first interview. In India, for the most part, the concept of university spirit, pride, and tradition does not exist predominantly.  In my first interview, one of the questions I was asked was, "What do you know about ASU spirit, pride, and tradition?"

And I'm like, "What, what and tradition?" 

The interviewers literally we're looking at each other and chuckling at my ignorance. I can still remember that. I was like, "Boy, am I going to make it here or what?" 

Beth: At the same time, you've got all the voices from the group saying, "It's super hard to get a job. You'll never get a job." Now you've got people laughing at your response. You must have, at that point, been starting to feel pretty defeated. 

Saiman: Slightly, so I went back to my antidote of being busy, and not thinking about it, and just doing the constructive things that I thought would maximize my exposure to success.

After that, after a bunch of interviews, I got a great position and I had a great manager who was super understanding of everything, and that was what I did until I actually started working a full-time job. It was a business analyst in the university admissions and marketing team.

Beth: While you were still in grad school, my understanding is that you got a job clear across the country in the US, in Georgia, that had you leaving ASU, at least physically. Tell me what was happening here. 

Saiman: I was subjected to this thought that I won't get a job and that made me want to experiment with the market and see if it's true or not. In a four-semester master's program, most people start applying for full-time jobs maybe in the third semester. What I did was I started applying midway through my second semester fully knowing that I won't be able to start working because I hadn't graduated yet. I wanted to do a poke test on the industry to see if it's true or not. 

So, I made a couple versions of my resume. Again, hundreds of applications, but no calls. I kept tweaking my resume until I started getting calls and doing this much ahead of time gave me an extra head start in learning. 

What came out of that was there was this one company that gave me a call from Indiana and it was for a co-op position. I did reasonably well in the interview, we were in the stage of an offer, and they are like, "We need you to work 40 hours a week." The pre-completion student work authorization allows you only to work 20 hours a week. 

Just to remind you, this was a control systems, intern position. The same role that a lot of people were facing difficulty getting. This was a one in a million opportunity for me.  

Beth: But, you're restricted by the student visa at this point. So here's this great opportunity, but your visa is restricting you. 

Saiman: Yes. So I called up the company and I'm like, "I can only work for 20 hours. I'm not allowed to work more than 20 hours," and they're like, "No, we absolutely need 40 hours. We have to rescind the offer." 

That was another "Wow. Okay," moment for me.

Beth: How did you recover from this? 

Saiman: One thing that happened was in this application spree, at one point, I didn't know who I applied to. I literally applied to every job possible on the internet. And then when I got calls back on some of those, I was like, "Can you please send me the job description to this position because I don't quite know which one you're responding for." 

Beth: How did they respond when you would say that? Sometimes we think that the recruiter wants to know that you are so passionate and committed to the job that you're applying for, yet you pretty quickly were revealing the fact that you're on a spree and that you don't exactly remember. Did you find people having a negative response when you would say that? 

Saiman: I would put it out as, "I think I applied to a few different positions within your company, a few different similar positions. And can you please remind me so that I can do well in the interview? My goal is to do well in the interview, so I want to know which position you are hiring for." 

Recruiters want you to be successful. It's not like recruiters give you a call and then go, "Ah, gotcha." 

Beth: That's such a good reminder. I think a lot of people fear recruiters instead of having that mindset that you had, which is, "No, they've got a job to fill. They want you to be successful because if you're the right person, that's success for them as well."

Saiman: Exactly, and the whole incentive structure for most recruiters in the US, I believe, is upon placement.  They are incentivized to actually place a person, so everything is going for you at that point.

Beth: It's a really good reminder. 

So, where in this spree of applying to hundreds of companies, hundreds of jobs, did the Georgia opportunity pop up? 

Saiman: Thanks for bringing me back to the point! It's a long story so I keep getting deviated. 

The Georgia thing happened from one of the job applications that I submitted. They got back to me and they're like, "We want you to start working immediately if we hire you." 

Even before going through the interview process, I said, "I graduate in May and until May I'm only able to work 20 hours. After that, I can work 40 hours, full-time. If we are not good with that, then I don't think we should waste each other's time, to be fair." 

They were very accommodating and they were like, "We understand totally. It's okay 20 hours, and then we'll convert you to full-time and give you 40 hours." So, the interview went well, then I got the offer, and then I started prepping to move to Atlanta in my third semester. 

To be honest, I never thought that I would get a job after my fourth semester or after my master's, and not because I doubted my capabilities, but because that was the environment I was in. If there's one message to any international student listening to this, it's just do your part. Just keep pushing this. This negativity comes from people who want to justify that it's hard. I'm not saying it's smooth sailing. It's definitely a challenge, but it's not something you can't do.

Beth: There really is a difference between impossible and hard, and to understand that something is hard doesn't mean that it's impossible as your story is really proving. 

One thing I don't understand, Saiman, and you can help me with this is how does grad school in Arizona work when you've moved to Georgia?

Saiman: In my fourth semester, I had one course remaining and you are not supposed to take any online courses in your last semester for some reason.  I think that's a university-specific restriction. So I was like, "Okay, now how do I make this work?" I started looking through all the courses possible and one of the things that stood out was "Reading and Conference" where I worked under a professor, did the research and submitted a report. That report would count towards my graduation and I would get the credits. That course counted as a non-online course. 

It was an understanding between me and my professor, and what we set up between us to get things done. He was an immigrant himself, so he understood the entire scenario. I was like, "See, I have this great opportunity. I'm willing to work super hard to get you a really good end product, but I cannot be located here for all our meetings. I can make frequent trips to meet you in person," and he was super understanding. We made that relationship work.

It was good that I had only one course remaining otherwise it would have been twice the trouble. 

Beth: At this point, you're in the US on a student visa. Would you have needed a different visa for this job after graduation? 

Saiman: The student visa comes with a 12-month work authorization attached to it after you graduate by default. If you are in any of the STEM majors, back then you got 17 additional months, which was changed to 24. Within those three years, you needed to adjust to work visa status and the H1-B is the most popular of those. 

Beth: Tell me about the decision to stay in the US and not go back to India. Was this a difficult decision for you? 

Saiman: To be fair, I didn't necessarily have anything against going back to India or going to any other country in the world. It was not necessarily that I saw my future in the US and only the US. I was super confident that even if I went back to India, there would be opportunities that would welcome me.

Also there is nothing that would prevent me from moving to India when it comes to stability of the country or stability of community or anything like that. Social factors. But what made me want to stay was that I'm not done yet. I didn't travel and go through all this just to at the end of the day, pack my bags and call it good. 

Beth: What did you do after you graduated? Did you end up staying with the company where you were working part-time? 

Saiman: After that job in Atlanta, I got contacted by another small business in Atlanta, which was super, super rewarding because they wanted an engineer to revamp all their age-old equipment. And I became that engineer. I was hardly a few months out of grad school and got all controls efforts. I really learned a ton there. 

And all this happened within the span of less than a year. And then, before the next April, I had all this experience in and I was ready to move to Silicon Valley. 

Beth: Why did you decide to leave a company where you were having so much exposure and learning so much?

Saiman: It mainly had to do with where I was going, the purpose that place serves in the world, and the leveraged impact I could have in the world through that company. And that company was Tesla. 

What really excited me was when I interviewed and really saw what the company was doing. It was not just like, "Hey, we got a cool car and we are going to build this cool car." It's more like, "What are we going to do to change the face of energy consumption and generation in the world." 

That is defined as one of the top problems of the century and I was like, "It would be an honor to work on one of the top problems that our generation is facing."

Beth: What was the actual experience like for you of being at Tesla? What happened?

Saiman: What I learned and did at Tesla was amazing in that I was focused on a certain part of the vehicle that was in a manufacturing stage. It was not necessarily in a research or early development stage. What I had to innovate on was how do we make this thing super-fast and efficiently?

So that was what I was working on and I was super happy about it, but I was like, "Is this it?" 

Beth: After about two and a half years, you left Tesla. Tell me what pulled you away. 

Saiman: So, I am building the machine that builds the machine, but I want to be part of the first machine story to begin with, and there was this opportunity that came across from Lyft.

Lyft was founding its self-driving group back then. And they were looking for talent. That opportunity looked exciting to me because it offered me the chance to be part of, or drive, the early-stage development aspect of things. 

Beth: So, of the actual product. Not the manufacturing of it, but actually the product. But, this required you to move from being in an engineering role into more of a technical product manager role. Tell me what was that transition, switching the function that you were in? 

Saiman: As an engineer, you focus on getting things done, either writing the code or doing the design and getting things working. As a technical program manager, you need to know the technical nature of the product that you are running or helping build, and you also need to know how to rally people around it and how to give them direction as to where we are going and how their work is important in the bigger picture. 

I'm not going to lie. I really, really got inspired by a lot of great leaders at Tesla, including of course, Elon. The way they rally people around a common end purpose. 

That was what I really brought to Lyft, in my opinion, that helped me be successful over there. Coming in and saying, "Okay, why do we even exist? Why do we even have to do this? It is X, Y, and Z, and this is how your work goes into this."  When you keep iterating this day after day after day, you see a sense of purpose and cohesion within your teams.

Beth: How confident were you moving into this type of role? 

Saiman: It was honestly a challenge for me to even fathom that I could steer people, but then I just jumped into it because the opportunity was super exciting.  At the end of the day, I think a lot of what I learned at Tesla when it comes to great people showing their leadership skills and getting something done really helped me.

Beth: So now that you're in this type of a role where you are doing the more, "How do I motivate other people? How do I get people focused on the mission and on that vision?" have you found that this type of role plays to your strengths? What have you discovered about yourself in this role? 

Saiman: I am an engineer by nature, so even though I'm in these roles, I always try to roll up my sleeves and work with the engineers on ways that they can do certain things. That's basically what keeps me going. Helping people design good, smart solutions for certain problems really keeps me going. I usually use that as my core competency.

And then I look at it as what can I bring to the table to hold all of these people together and make a certain thing happen. Different technical program managers are different in the way they operate. Some of them are totally hands-off on the technical side and they just care about the milestones being met. It troubles me, though, if a certain milestone is not met and I don't help the engineer or anyone working on that problem to the best of my technical ability.

Beth: About a year ago, you moved into a technical product manager role at Nuro. It sounds like that role is similar to the role that you had at Lyft. What was it about the opportunity at Nuro that drew you away from Lyft? 

Saiman: I think the single largest thing that really excited me about Nuro is again, the mission of Nuro, which is to accelerate the benefit of robotics in everyday life.

There's a very specific application that the company is doing, and at the same time, the company has a broad vision of doing good to humanity. So I think it’s this focus on getting something specific done yet maintaining the larger vision that really got me excited. 

Beth: I have to say, I'm in Mountain View which is where Nuro is based, so I do know the autonomous vehicles they're working on now. I've seen the first product, some test vehicles, drive by, but it's exciting to hear that the bigger vision is this robotics in everyday life. 

As we've been talking about you, going from the jobs that you had in Georgia to coming to Tesla, then Lyft, and now Nuro, it's as if things have been rather linear, but you always have your hand in more than one thing. You also have been an entrepreneur at the same time that you've been doing these. Tell me about the projects that you've had on the side while you've been doing work at these larger companies. 

Saiman: One of the startups that I started was a waste management / Internet of Things startup called Hygeia. That was the first time I was doing something after the swag business I was doing in India.  

This was interesting because I met my co-founder, he worked for a company in Mountain View, and I was like, "Okay, what is it that we can do that brings together our expertise?" We wanted to do something in IOT. We wanted to do something in waste management because that's a big problem. So, how do we do it? 

We just came up with a super janky, $100 prototype. Bought some things from Fry's and just put some sensors together. Then we applied to entrepreneurship competitions like crazy and we actually got selected. 

One of the most memorable things I will never forget is we applied to the Mayor's Cup in the University of Southern California.  We got into that and we went to the finals. This was a city-wide development initiative created by the mayor of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and we got a chance to interact with the mayor and understand what the city's problems are. 

It was really humbling how a couple of years ago, I was wondering if I would even make it in the US and then here I am sitting with the Mayor of Los Angeles discussing ways to improve sanitation in the city.

Beth: What motivates you to do the side projects while you've got these big jobs at these big companies? 

Saiman: There are multiple things. It might. in general, look like there's this thing I'm trying out and then, if this thing works, I’m not going to do the other thing and jump onto this. But for me, it's not that. It's just that I like to have different streams of knowledge being gained at the same time.  I think that the knowledge I gain through different streams become useful to each other.  

People have hobbies all the time, people have ways to relax, and people sometimes have ways to take out their frustration from the other job. This is my way. It's my ongoing experiment of finding myself. 

Beth: That to me is one of the joys of life. 

I want to go back to talking about visas.  Around the time you got the job at Nuro was the time that you got your Einstein visa. Tell me about this. What was the process and why was it important to you to get an Einstein visa?

Saiman: It all started when Tesla filed for an H1-B the first time in 2016. That was an unsuccessful attempt because my application did not get picked in the lottery. I had one more chance at the H1-B visa, but in general, I was like, "Okay, so I have one year and if I don't get the H1-B in the next year, then game over."

I took this up as a legitimate problem to solve. I didn't think, "Oh no, H1-B is unfair" or anything like that. I'm not one to be talking about that. I was like, "Okay, so this is reality. In another year, there's another attempt. If that doesn't go through, game over or at least game over in the US. So, what is it that I can do to improve my situation here?"

I went back to what is it that I already have? I looked through every single classification of visas and every single classification of anything that lets you stay in the US. I started looking for "extraordinary ability visas." The US deliberately has a certain classification of visas for people who prove that they are the cream of the cream in a certain area. That they are top, exceptional talent in a certain area.

And I was like, "This sounds really interesting. Is it possible for me to focus on one area, become really, really good at that, and claim for this special benefit in that category?" 

I set a full game plan for myself saying, "What are the things that I'm really good at already? What is all the evidence that I have already proving some things here," and then I started diving deeper into the problem, like, "Okay, what extra do I need to do to meet the evidentiary criteria around what I'm good at already?" 

One thing led to the other and, to be fair, being an entrepreneur exposed me to a network in the Valley. There was a time when I would spend every evening after my work at Tesla going to meetups, just trying to meet people. Just trying to understand what's happening in general, but also develop connections.  A lot of these connections that I developed I could then leverage. What if that person is hosting a conference? I need to create that opportunity for that person to invite me as a guest speaker.

So, there was a certain thing that I established myself as good at, and I started looking for ways to get recognition for that. 

Basically, it all boils down to this for the EB-1A visa. These actually look for: A) you need to be in the top of your field and you need to have evidence to prove that, and B) you need to have sustained recognition and acclaim in that space. 

So, what is it that I could lose? I had nothing to lose and, at the same time, everything to gain, because in this process I was building my reputation. I was also building my case. I was building my knowledge of the area. I was building the artifacts that pointed back to me. So it would only do good for me.

Beth: It's so interesting because what it sounds like is you took the same drive that you have around your entrepreneurship and applied it to this challenge now as well, and said, "It's a type of business that I'm building, but the product is me. I'm creating this best me that will then qualify for this visa." 

It was a very deliberate effort. Again, I'm going to say it's very impressive because you were doing this at the same time that you not only had a job, but you also had these other side hustles. 

Saiman: I'll be honest. From the day I decided to do this, diving deep and deliberately talking to a lot of people, making things happen, I barely slept. I think four or maximum five hours per night for the one and a half years until I actually put my application in. 

I knew it was worth it because otherwise for people from India, the wait time for getting a green card under the EB-2 or EB-3 is somewhere to the North of two decades. 

Beth: So I've got one more question for you about your Einstein visa, because one thing I know about you is that with getting your EB-1A, you've been inspired to want to help other people pursue this option. Tell me more about what you're doing in that regard. 

Saiman: A lot of people have reached out to me because, in their minds, the Einstein visa, the EB1-A, is only reserved for Nobel laureates or Olympic medalists or people with PhDs. I have none of those and I was able to legitimately build my profile up and qualify for that.

There's a lot of either lack of information or misinformation going on about this. I am currently building a course, purely from my experience. It's not cutting-edge legal advice or anything like that. I'm not an attorney. It is purely from my experience around what I did to qualify for this visa so that that experience can help others and they can benefit from it.

Beth: In addition to all that you've been doing, because you are you, you also have yet another side project. Tell me about that. 

Saiman: Around this time last year, in 2020, my good friend that I know from undergrad days, Anish Hegde, and I got together to build Resume Puppy. This is mainly to help people come up with really well-made resumes.

One of the issues we find immigrants face and, in general, most people face is expressing everything that you have done in one letter-sized sheet of paper, in a very nice articulate manner that people would love to read and give you a call. It's one thing to do great work at your workplace, and it's another to market yourself on a resume.

So, we are building tools that help people do the latter part well, because we want them to focus on all the great work that they've done. Bring all the great work that they've done and leave all the other aspects to us. 

Beth: It has been fascinating finding out how you got to where you are today with all of these different elements. I have just three more questions to ask you. I call these the lightning round.  

My first question is what would you say is the smartest career move you made, whether intentionally or accidentally. 

Saiman: I think in the grand scheme of things, joining Tesla at an earlier point in my career. And I tell this with abstraction because by Tesla, I mean a company that is super, super mission driven, is very fast paced, isn't afraid to do crazy things, and at points you don't know what is going on, but yet you figure things out. Being subjected to that environment, or subjecting myself to that environment, in my case it was Tesla, I can't express how valuable it was to me in my future. 

Beth: If you could have one do-over, what would it be and why?

Saiman: In retrospect, when I look at all the mistakes that I've done, these are all simple things that I should have understood by going down to the basics of things. It would have been obvious why I did those mistakes. So, not thinking in a more basic level is I think something I would want to change.

Beth: And then my last question for you, Saiman, how do you define success for yourself? 

Saiman: One of the things I always measure myself by is how much I continue to learn. I want to keep learning and I want to, either through advising or through products that I build, help people through whatever experience I've gained and make things better for everyone around me.

So that's what drives me and that's my metric of success. 

Beth: Well, Saiman, thank you so much for sharing your story. You've got a long career ahead of you. I look forward to seeing all the places that you go and maybe we'll even have to have you back to tell that next part of the story. Thank you so much.

Saiman: This has been a pleasure.

Beth: A quick epilogue… I’m excited to share that Saiman has released his course, Smart Green Card. We’ve placed a link to this and to Resume Puppy on our website, careercurves.com. 

While there, check out some of our past episodes. We’ve built up quite the collection since launching in 2019. 

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That’s it for this episode. As always, thanks for listening.