Ten Questions/Ten Minutes: STEM Tutor Interview with Atul Rana
1. Atul, thank you for taking the time to talk to us at Athena! For those reading who aren’t familiar with you, please tell everyone a little about yourself. What did you do before tutoring?
2. What drew you to tutoring, and how long have you tutored for?
Going into tutoring was never part of a career plan, and 11 years on I am so glad I entered the world of tutoring by accident. When I finished my PhD I was in debt and a friend suggested tutoring, so I joined an agency and they gave me my first tutoring assignment. It turned out I was a natural tutor from day 1. After good feedback, the agency just got me more and more jobs. In the meantime I got a full time job in the city and no longer needed tutoring for income. I didn’t stop tutoring though, and I felt more alive tutoring for 2hrs in the evening than I did working as a corporate cog. I was respected and recognised by high profile clients, and I just kept getting more and more word of mouth work. So in 2009 I took a paycut of about a third, and committed myself to tutoring full time. The gamble paid off as I earn more than I ever did in any of my previous jobs.
3. What, for you, is the most rewarding aspect of being a tutor?
That lightbulb moment when a student finally cracks something is what I live for. You can’t put a price on that feeling. It’s so satisfying to help young people. I can honestly say tutoring never feels like work to me and all my friends know I can never stop talking about it.
4. And now for the other side… what do you find to be the most difficult thing about being a tutor?
Tutoring admin is certainly not glamorous. You are running a complex business that entails responding to enquiries swiftly, arranging tutoring diaries, writing feedback to parents, generating invoices, chasing some late payees and getting feedback from clients when the job ends. And then there is the tax return too. It is all part and parcel of being an independent business and the benefits far outweigh the costs. I’m looking to automate a lot of my admin through technology and have a great accountant now who helps keep my books and tax in order.
5. In the subjects you tutor, how do you try to get (or keep) students engaged?
6. With exam season rapidly approaching, what one key revision tip are you always sure to pass on to your students?
7. What are some of the lifelong benefits of studying STEM subjects?
8. As I’m sure you know, Science Week 2017 has just wrapped up for the year. What did you enjoy most about Science Week this year?
9. Can you give an idea of what sort of further study and employment opportunities are available for students pursuing STEM, and what routes they could take?
10. And finally, there is a huge gender gap in STEM fields. What would you say to young girls who may not feel that these subjects are for them?