Voice of an EA – MOHAMMAD RAZA SOHAIL
A tête-à-tête with MOHAMMAD RAZA SOHAIL…
Q. How did you come to Chegg?
My coming to Chegg was a sheer coincidence. I am a B. Tech graduate in Civil Engineering in 2017. I took up Civil Engineering by choice. One day, as I was attending a counselling session in Andhra University. I happened to meet a friend who was then working as a Subject Matter Expert in Chegg. In a casual conversation, he mentioned about the role of an MNE in Chegg. This interested me, but I did not take it too seriously. A few days later, I came across an advertisement on Facebook, that said Chegg was hiring MNEs. I wasted no time and immediately applied for the role. I was then preparing for GATE. As there are no interviews for MNEs, I was asked to submit a few assignments, which were okayed, and within no time – say less than five days, I was answering solutions for the Chegg Q&A Board, and that too from the comfort of my home (Smiles). The process was as smooth as silk – no delays, no confusion. This chance meeting occurred in Feb 2018, and that changed my fate.
“Call it destiny, call it serendipity (Smiles, as he reflects) but I thank my lucky stars for coming across this opportunity of working as an MNE @ Chegg.”
Q. Tell us something about yourself.
I hail from Visakhapatnam. My basic education has been in Vizag, whereas I completed my graduation from Vijayawada. Both my parents are employed. My father is a banker, and my mom is a teacher. I am the only child and have been raised with discipline – not like the only kids who are pampered. I play shuttle, and most of the time, engage myself in building up my skills. I am a day person and love spending lone time.
Q. Do you work anywhere else or as a freelancer for any other company?
No. I don’t work anywhere else. I enjoy working for Chegg and would embrace an opportunity to work full-time here.
Q. How is being an Expert Answerer different from working as an employee elsewhere?
I haven’t worked anywhere else, so I wouldn’t be able to comment on that. I can certainly share what it feels like to be an Expert Answerer. The name itself propels an expertise w.r.t. subject. Either we are experts, or we need to be experts. I wouldn’t say I was a thorough expert, but the exposure I got out of answering the Chegg Q&A board, sharpened my subject-knowledge, to such an extent, that now, I feel I am not overstating if I were to call myself an ‘Expert Answerer.” (chuckles). Compared to my peers, I can vouch that I have an extra edge when it comes to theoretical knowledge. Thus, working as an EA has enriched my knowledge. Thanks to Chegg, I have cleared my GATE and have got an admission in UK, which otherwise, I do not think, would be possible. (A gleam of pride can be seen in his mischievous eyes). I feel the job of an Expert Answerer at Chegg is really something. Not much of workload, I can work at my own sweet pace, plus the added advantage of overloading of knowledge. The treasure of knowledge I gained in a measly span of six months is much more than the exposure I got in my four years of engineering.
Q. How many hours do you spend a day on answering Chegg Q&A Board? How many solutions do you do?
I spend not more than three to four hours a day on Chegg Q&A Board. I crack around 70 to 80 questions a month, on an average.
Q. How do you balance your personal life and professional life as an Expert Answerer?
“The early bird catches the worm.” I start working from 6 AM and work up to around 10 AM, throughout the week. This is the time when I feel the questions are a little easy and not many people work. I answer five to six questions in this duration. Also, the mind is fresh and there is calm around. Then, from 10 AM. I hone my skills to better answer Chegg Q&A board. I prefer working on the Chegg Q&A board, rather than authoring of solutions, as I feel writing solutions requires us to follow guideline w.r.t style, formatting etc., and is a little more time-consuming, for the same pay. I know, youngsters my age follow the late nights and party cult, I am an early-to-bed and early-to -rise person. All my friends are at Vijayawada, making me a loner here in Vizag. I do not have a lot many friends here, and this saves my time. Thankfully, I don’t have peer pressure.
Q. Did you get any poor-quality rating or send backs for your solutions anytime in your past? What did you do and what was your experience?
Ha Ha! Yes, I did get poor-quality ratings. After all, failures are stepping stones to success, aren’t they? In fact, my month starts with a score of zero, could be that the student is unhappy with the explanation or the solution (Grins sheepishly, turning away his face). I then put in my efforts to start improving. During my initial days, I did have bottlenecks. It was difficult for me to answer, as I had no sources and no textbooks. Questions in the Chegg Q&A board pop-up from across the globe. I felt very proud in the month of May 2018 wherein I did not get a single thumbs-down. June, I again started with a score of zero but ended up with a good score. In the month of July, I raised my bar. Prior to June, I was worried about the scores and the rating, but now I feel confident. I could see a lot of improvement in myself from February to May 2018. Now, I am placed comfortably with a majority of thumbs-up, and that is why I continue to be an MNE. Chegg focuses on American standard questions, whereas my academics are of Indian standards, this acted as a hiccup and I did get my share of ‘Thumbs-down’. I was not dissuaded. I downloaded almost all the textbooks, gathered information from the websites, and did thorough research and a lot of homework. Now, I am equipped to answer the questions confidently. At times, we get questions from countries like Turkey, Euro-port etc., which I find difficult to answer.
Q. Share at least one memorable and one challenging moment in your tenure?
(Laughs) Authoring a solution can never be memorable, but yes, the date February 25th, 2018 shall always be etched in my memory, as I joined Chegg on this day – it is a life-turning day for me. Apart from this, yes, an incident that made me both disappointed and happy.
Memorable Moment: I once answered a question that had a fraction as the solutions. In the first instance, probably, the student, did not understand it and gave me a thumbs-down. This disappointed me. The student must have again looked up and inserted the fraction as a picture in the website which converted the fraction to decimal format and rendered my solution right. The student immediately changed the Thumbs-down to a Thumbs-Up, gave a good rating, and thanked me. This restored my smile and I felt happy, that my efforts had paid off. It is a feel-good factor, always to get good ratings, and that boosts me up.
Challenging Moment: Well! A challenging situation! (Ponders) Oh yes! How can I forget this? There was this question from RCC – Reinforced & Cement Concrete Structures. I had 120 minutes to complete the question. It was of a high difficulty level. I racked my brain. It was a race against time. I was left with the last ten minutes to submit the solution. Time was ticking by. I used all my knowledge, gathered enough momentum and submitted my answer at the 119th minute. I can’t express my feelings of elation at that moment. I felt I had conquered the world. (beams).
Q. You appear dedicated. Are you satisfied with the pay?
Yes! (sobers up) I am highly motivated, passionate and dedicated. In fact, Chegg is my only avocation. Though I work only for around four hours a day, the rest of the day, I immerse myself learning topics related to Chegg Study. The pay I earn from Chegg is enough to self-sustain myself. I do not depend on my parents for pocket money. I am content. The payment is prompt and genuine. I am proud to be self-reliant and thank Chegg for making me so.
Q. How does Chegg help in your progress?
Amazingly! My shoreline of knowledge has been increasing, since the day I joined as an Expert Answerer. I could clear my GATE, thanks to the knowledge I amassed working on solutions for Chegg. I have also been attempting a few competitive examinations.
Q. Are you happy being an Expert Answerer? How has the role made your life easy?
Happy would be an understatement. The wealth of knowledge I have hoarded, being an Expert Answerer cannot be quantified. I can earn without moving out of my house. I now feel very complete, in lieu of the knowledge amassed, and a lot more confident.
Q. Would you recommend others to join as Expert Answerer? If yes, why?
Definitely! I have been doing this. It is only that people need to taste the joy and pride of being an MNE at Chegg. My friends are reluctant, because they either have other pursuits, consider it a tedious job, or are dubious and skeptical about their own skills. I will keep on motivating people to join as an MNE.
Q. Would you prefer to be a full-time expert or continue as a part-time expert in Chegg?
(Sounds excited). That would be my dream come true. In fact, I did get a call and attended the interview for Content Support Executive at Chegg, but I would want to work as a Subject Matter Expert. I am waiting for an opportunity for a vacancy to exist, for I am sure I have accumulated enough knowledge to be an asset to the Civil Engineering Domain as an expert. Chegg, to me, is better than any government job. My father is a banker, and we have been transferred 15 times – we settle, we unpack, adapt and then again, we pack, move to another city, settle, unpack and then again pack – this has been exasperating (frowns) and the saga continues. This is one reason I have never tried to walk on my father’s footsteps. Getting a job in a banking sector is not easy, because of the tough competition out there. I would want to have a sure footing in one area. I love Vizag and would want to settle down here. What better option than Chegg for this?
Q. If you are asked to come to our office and train other Expert Answerers, would you opt for it?
Certainly! I would love to share the knowledge I have amassed.
Q. Is this your first EA Meet. How is the experience?
Marvellous! I am having a wonderful time here. Would look forward to many more meets in the future. I enjoyed the lunch too. 😊
Q. One thought about our Expert Management Team…
Awesome! They are very supportive. Chegg itself is supportive. The journey with the team has been very smooth, fruitful and mutually beneficial.
Q. Any problems you faced with the Q&A board?
Not many to mention. I did face a few technical glitches, maybe about five times in my entire tenure.
Any suggestions from your end…
Hmm, yes, a few…
A few of the questions posted are very difficult for a person with a B. Tech background to solve, whereas for a person with an MTech background, they might seem easy. I feel, it would be of immense help if Chegg would provide references in the form of Textbooks or websites. This would make the lives of MNEs like me much easier, as in we can search for related cues, considerably reducing the time taken to work on a solution.
There should be a tab on the number of questions posted by a student. Some students post five questions at a time, and each question takes an hour to answer. If the number of questions is limited to three questions, that would be nice, as else it affects the ratings. I feel bad when I get poor ratings. It hurts me.
Also, if students could specify the reason for a low score or a thumbs-down, that would help a lot in self-improvement for the overall betterment of the solution, as we can come to know the drawbacks and try to rectify them.