Voice of an EA – Srinadh
Q.How did you come to Chegg?
I came from a family of farmers. Being a middle class, my parents couldn’t pay for my higher education. So, I started to offer home tuitions with which I could manage to complete my masters. After having master’s degree in physics, I joined a local college as a teaching faculty. A friend who is an employee at Chegg recommended me to join as EA. Only after joining Chegg, my family and I started to feel financially comfortable. I joined Chegg twice. I left Chegg around five years ago to pursue further studies abroad. After I submitted my thesis six months ago, I re-joined. Chegg is my back up whenever I need financial support.
Q,Where else do you work?
Currently, I am a research student in Spain.
Q.How is being an EA different from working as an employee elsewhere?
Being an EA is a responsible job, where we help the students when they get stuck during their homework. We have to deeply involve ourselves to successfully guide the student to understand the answer. All it needs our attention and it doesn’t matter where we are working from. Be it our home, airport, railway station, or a vacation, if we are comfortable to open our laptop and do some answering, we are good to go. Work wise, being an EA is the same as being a full-time subject expert. But comfort wise, being an EA is advantageous. I work from my home and take as many breaks as I want.
I always want to be a full-time EA for Chegg as I enjoy paying my full attention to helping the students with my expertise. I am an EA before and after my Ph.D. I never tried to work for Chegg simultaneously while doing the research as it affects the quality of my solutions that ultimately impacts the students.
Q.How much time do you spend a day as an EA?
It depends on the volume of questions I receive in a day. I am committed to spending a minimum of 6 hours a day, but if the volume demands more, I would love to spend more time. The time difference between India and Spain is another advantage. Questions start pouring in at around 10:30 PM and I can comfortably work for few hours post my dinner.
Q.How do you balance your personal and professional life as an EA?
If people work from home, they are prone to get disturbed often. But in my case, I am a research student at a university, and I work from my dorm. No one or nothing would disturb me. I keep myself isolated while working and I am pretty much comfortable with my schedules. I don’t want to answer the questions in a hurry. If something demands my attention in the middle of my work, I would rather complete the active answer first and only then I take a break.
Every student should be guided in a proper way. If I talk to someone else simultaneously while answering, it not only affects the student but also the organization and finally my reputation, both with students and with Chegg. I seriously consider the ignorance of the student and try to guide him/her with a careful explanation. So, this kind of work obviously needs my full attention. I always love that. I am an expert, but a student needs a down-to-earth guidance. I need to be isolated, focused, and should be thinking about the student who receives my answer.
Q.Did you get any poor quality rating or send backs for your solutions anytime in your past? What did you do and what is your experience?
I never received any send backs, but I knew that students can rate our answers, thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or comment. When they comment, I reply, and they again comment back; there would be a conversation going on. So, for me, it is all about how much care I take to make the student understand my answer.
Even if I am the best teacher, I cannot satisfy of all my students. Students thinking capacities vary from each other. Some students are so logical that they can understand my answer immediately but for some students, who are in need of fundamentals, everything must be explained very clearly and carefully. We need to give answers according to the level of students; give a post-grad level answer to a post-grad student and high school level answer to a high school student.
Sometimes two hours per answer might not be enough, especially when I start explaining everything from the bottom, covering all the fundamentals. But it may not be necessary for a graduate level student. If our explanations are too elaborate, the students get bored. Sometimes we write so sharp and crisp that even a university graduate many not understand too.
If I present a plenty of information, a student will not complain, as s/he gets what s/he needs. Whenever I try to give answers in a short cut manner, then definitely the student is going to comment and I need to make sure that I reply to the comment.
Q.Could you tell us a memorable and challenging moment in your tenure?
Every moment I receive a question that is a perfect match to my specialization, for example, optics in physics, is a moment of celebration. Moments like these are rare. Such moments make me feel like Sachin Tendulkar playing the easiest shot, the cover shot. They are all memorable.
The challenging moment I ever face is when some student comments that the answer is completely wrong, though it is absolutely correct. In such moments, without having a disappointment, I try to reply and continue the conversation over comments trying to explain how the answer is correct and what approach has been followed. Moments like these always end up with a reply of concern, asking me how to correct the rating that has been given already.
Q.How does Chegg help in your progress?
For me, the progress is always about learning new things. Chegg helped me to interact with students of my subject area. It is always interesting. Through the comments, the student asks for a different way of approach to the same question or problem which requires more of thinking. That takes me back to the basics, makes me learn new things and then come back to give what the student wanted. This is certainly something that I always want to do. Chegg fulfilled my desire.
Sometimes questions posted by students are completely new. The homework they have may not be from their regular textbooks. Professors create new questions and give them as assignments to the students. Formulae to solve such questions might be familiar, but students could get the logic behind such questions only when they seriously brainstorm. When Professors throw challenges to the students, students eventually come to us for help. I enjoy answering such questions.
Q.Are you happy being an EA? How has the role made your life easy?
Yes, I am happy being an EA. I was unemployed after submitting my Ph.D. thesis. Getting an employment in a foreign country for a fresher isn’t easy. Chegg has got my back and I never had to worry about making my both ends meet. I am very happy for two reasons – one, for being financially alright; second, for being employed in my own country despite my location abroad.
Q.Do you recommend others to join as an EA at Chegg? If yes, why?
Yes. I have already recommended few of my friends and they are working with Chegg currently. I recommend my old students to join this job as they can get paid for their knowledge and also work from the comfort of their home. Those who enjoy their subject of expertise are definitely going to enjoy the job, without a second thought.
For those who enjoy working in their academic expertise, how cool it is to get paid for helping the students at the comfort of working from home or when and where they are free and comfortable to work. Who can deny such an offer?
Q.Have you ever feel like procrastinating?
I normally do not procrastinate. But sometimes when I am sick, I’ll have to pull the plug and rest. As I am a kind of addict to my subject of expertise, procrastination is not a part of my chemistry.
Q.Would you opt for an opportunity to take up a full-time job as an expert in Chegg?
As I am currently in search of a full-time job, I will opt for the opportunity. But, I will definitely lose the comfort of working from home.