The Expat Woman

Sailee Raje – Life Coach, Engineer and Entrepreneur

Full Name: Sailee Raje
Country of Origin: India
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Sailee grew up in Pune, India, the city known for its high quality educational institutes and liberal culture. She received her bachelors degree in Electronics and Telecommunications engineering in India and then moved to the US to pursue a masters degree in Computer Hardware Engineering. She currently practices as a Life Coach where she guides people through their life transitions, careers, relationships, personal development and well-being. She also works in the corporate world designing microchips. She loves to sing and has recorded a couple of Indian music albums. She also runs an online baby clothing store called Awes-N-Wows inspired by her baby daughter. In her free time, Sailee loves travelling, writing and planning her new ventures.

1. What made you move to the USA? Which city did you move to? Was the move to the USA hard for you?
I moved to the USA to pursue a higher education. I first landed in Boston. I graduated with an MS degree in Computer Hardware engineering from University of Massachusetts. The move to this country wasn’t easy, but I like to use the word “challenging” instead of “hard”. That was the first time I ever had to work to pay for food and rent. I had to look for work the very next day after I landed in the USA. I had to put in more hours working than studying to be able to pay for my tuition. To afford those expenses, I have prepared sandwiches, washed dishes, served food, fixed computers, tutored, assisted the elderly, participated as a subject in various research projects and assisted professors. It was when I got my first internship during my summer vacation, that I could breathe a little. Even though this initial period was hectic, I enjoyed the feeling of being independent and in charge of my life. Those early years taught me responsibility and respect for all kinds of professions. It is all about enjoying what you do.

2. What advice do you wish someone had given you when you first moved to the USA?
On the contrary, I wish no one had given me any advice. Everyone perceives the same situation differently. When you are ready to visit a new place, it is important to look at it with curious eyes instead of viewing it through some kind of filter created by other’s opinions about it. I believe in creating my own experience that is fresh and authentic.

3. What did you do professionally in your country before you moved here What was your first job in the USA? And how did you get the job you are currently working at?
I had never worked in India before moving to USA. I moved here right after my college without taking any break in between. I was 21 then. I worked at many different places to put myself through college and earn a masters degree. My very first job was assisting elderly folks with their “continuing education” class where they learned basic computer skills. After graduating, I worked as an intern for couple of semiconductor companies before I was hired by a semiconductor company as a full-time employee. I am currently working as a Sr. Design Engineer at LSI Corp. I am also a professional Life Coach practicing independently, helping people get more out of their lives and pursue their dreams.

4. Best moment of your career so far?
This would be when I figured my purpose! Although I have been working in corporate world for about 9 years now, I always wanted to create something of my own. I tried out a variety of different businesses but never connected with any particular one. But when I discovered Life Coaching, I could not look back! I see many people living without any direction in their life. It is not living, it is just surviving. The best moment in my career was when I found a reason to live, and not just survive. It is not just about earning money, but earning the satisfaction while you earn money. It is so important to love what you do. We create the best things and best experiences when our work aligns itself with our true purpose and values. That’s one of my favorite topic to coach on, to help people discover and follow their true purpose.

5. What is a typical day like for you?

Every day is very different and that is how I keep it fun. I work full-time 5 days a week at my day job as an engineer. So I typically hold my Life-Coaching sessions early in the morning or in the evening. I have a sweet 3-year-old daughter and I make sure I set aside at least a couple of hours every day to spend quality time with her. On my drive to and back from work, I listen to audio books or CDs mostly related to well-being and positivity. I spend my free time reading, writing, dreaming and coming up with new ideas to make those dreams come true.

6. What are three things you like about the USA?
1. Its acceptance of people and cultures from all over the world.
2. The equality (gender, race, income level) is much better than in my home country.
3. I like how people obey the rules and regulations here even when they are not being monitored. People follow traffic rules and keep the roads clean. There are more people here that take ownership of their mistakes compared to many other countries where bribing is a norm.

7. What is your favorite American food? Favorite city in the USA? Favorite store and restaurant?
I won’t pick just one food item, I like to enjoy everything on my plate. I am a vegetarian by choice and I often land into situations where the restaurant has very limited vegetarian options. But I use that as an opportunity to be surprised. Who doesn’t like surprises? When I used to eat meat, I would often enter a restaurant with some idea about what I am going to eat. Now, as a vegetarian, I am totally clueless about what I might find at a new place. Being curious and amused about what the next thing on plate is going to be has been so much fun.
My favorite city is San Francisco, of course. I have lived in different cities in USA before finally settling down in San Francisco Bay area.
My favorite restaurants are Kasa in SF and the Chipotle chain. My favorite store is Rainbow Groceries in SF and Whole Foods.

8. How do you balance your day job and your job as a Life Coach?
The only reason I had no problem adding life coaching to my busy schedule is my love and passion for it. My deep desire to contribute positively to people’s lives is what drives me. I believe that you can always make time and energy for the things you truly want to do.

9. What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to women who have just moved to the USA?
They say the USA is a land of opportunities, but nobody ever told us what opportunity looks like. So, be open and embrace the new life with all your heart. Do not be afraid to try something for the first time. Do what you love and never be idle.

10. What advice would you give to professional expat women about finding jobs in their field?
Do not let others decide your life for you. It’s okay to take advice from others but in the end, choose your own path. First identify what you are passionate about and what you really love to do. Identify your strengths that can help you with your passion. Believe in yourself and realize that the only competition you have is yourself. The world needs more women living their purpose and passion. Be courageous enough to choose the path that leads to your dreams even if it appears to be less trodden. Approach every opportunity with confidence. One of the easiest ways to make this happen is to imagine yourself wearing an invisible crown every time you are set to prove yourself.

11. What are three things you found about the USA that were different from your country or you found hard to adjust to?
1. The feeling of community that you experience in India is definitely stronger than in the USA. People here need more space. We hardly needed to call up our friends back home before dropping in to their homes to say hello. We never had to wait till the weekend to celebrate someone’s birthday. The culture here is much more formal, and it took me sometime to get adjusted to it.
2. People here are more cautious about the words they use. They need to make sure that nothing they say offends anyone directly or indirectly. Back in India we could express our minds more freely without worrying too much about choosing the right words.
3. Food habits here very different and often not so healthy. A lot of food we get here is heavily processed. I never had to read the labels on packaged food items for ingredients back home. The restaurants serve humongous portions of food. Growing up I was always taught to finish everything on my plate even though I was a little too full. If we had any leftovers, we gave them away to poor people. Food was considered very precious and wasting it was almost like a sin. When I worked in a cafeteria while in school here in the USA, I saw students throwing away more than they actually ate and that really disturbed me. I still hate to see food being wasted or thrown away.

12. What are three fun or interesting facts about your home country?
1. To the surprise of many, India is the largest English speaking nation in the world.
2. India has the world’s largest movie industry. It’s called Bollywood. Musicals are integral part of Bollywood movies. Many Indian people are very obsessed with the movie stars and some of them are even worshiped by a lot of people.
3. India has been a pioneer at many scientific concepts. Chess was invented in India. Algebra, calculus, trigonometry, concept of zero originated in India. The decimal system was developed in India in 100 B.C. The world’s first university was established in India 700 B.C. in Takshashila. Yoga originated in India and has existed for over 5000 years. Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to mankind.

13. What is your favorite quote?
When writing the story of your life, do not let anyone else hold the pen.



Nyna is the Founder and CEO of The Expat Woman, a global platform focused on connecting, supporting and empowering women who have moved abroad or plan to relocate. She is also a LinkedIn coach, consultant, trainer and speaker. LinkedIn played a huge role in my professional journey abroad, helping me build a network of powerful expat women and allies.

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