Career Profile: Anne Egger

Stanford University

Stanford is a university with graduate programs, including doctoral programs.

Anne Egger
is one of the leaders of the 2010 Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences Workshop. Prior to the workshop, we asked each of the leaders to describe their careers, for the benefit of workshop participants, by answering the questions below.

Click on a topic to read Anne Egger's answer to an individual question, or scroll down to read the entire profile: Educational background and career path * Current job responsibilities * Best part of the job * Challenges and strategies * Qualifications * Balancing work and life * Advice

Briefly describe your educational background and career path.

I've had a complicated educational and career path. I took three years between undergraduate and grad school, during which time I had a job as a river guide and various other things. I them completed an MS and started a PhD, but decided I wanted to teach, so left after I completed quals [qualifying exams] and taught at a community college for two years. I returned to Stanford as the Undergraduate Program Coordinator, and recently also completed my PhD.

Briefly describe your current job responsibilities, perhaps by describing a typical day, week, or semester.

The first sentence of my job description is this: My door is always open. Undergraduate students drop in all the time for advising, at all scales. I teach 1-2 classes a quarter in addition, and also work with groups of faculty to develop courses and curricula.

What do you like best about your work?

I love the variety. I get to dabble in a huge array of research areas and teaching experiences. I also work with a lot of different people, which I enjoy.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work? What strategies have you developed for tackling that challenge?

The biggest challenge has been working as a staff person with academic faculty, and a close second has been working with very busy people. I feel like the most critical strategy I have is to learn about and accept my colleagues' strengths and weaknesses, and to take advantage of their strengths.

What qualifications do you think made you competitive in your job search(es)?

Primarily my people skills. Beyond the requisite degrees/specialization, a demonstrated ability to work with and teach many different kinds of people was of primary importance.

Many of the graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in these workshops are interested in balancing a family and career, in dual career couple issues, and in how other personal choices affect the search for a fulfilling career. Please share information about your situation, your ideas and experiences.

I left graduate school in part because I had decided I wouldn't move just anywhere for a job, and I saw that as an inevitable consequence of a PhD. There are only a few places I would want to live. I came back to finish graduate school because it fit into my lifestyle. I've tried to put my happiness in a place first, to greater or lesser success. More recently, I've found that the two things are equally important for me: place and job satisfaction.

What advice do you have for graduate students or post-docs preparing for academic careers in geoscience? What do you know now that you wish you had known as you started your career?

I am biased towards teaching, but my primary advice would be to get real teaching experience as a graduate student. Take it where you can get it - it will be valuable no matter what path you choose for a career.

There's a lot I feel like I had to learn for myself along the way, and could not have learned without experiencing personally, so it's hard to think about "what I wish I'd known". To take it all the way back to my undergraduate years, I wish I'd known how important math and physics would be to my career, and wish I'd kept going with my studies in those areas.