During a recent job interview, a could-be future boss asked Anna Gruen ’17, “Where do you see yourself in 50 years?”
In other words, where does she want to be when her career is behind her, and what will she have achieved to consider her life a success? It was a question she couldn’t answer, and she said so.
For Gruen, who makes a point of conquering fears and keeping open life’s possibilities, success “has no endpoint.”
Gruen transferred to UNH from Tulane University in New Orleans in the middle of her sophomore year. It was, she says, both exciting and terrifying.
At UNH, she faced and resolved her fears in unexpected ways. In a scuba diving class, Gruen not only overcame her fear of water, she learned to trust others and herself. In a class at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, she gained confidence by discovering she could reach beyond the boundaries of her neuroscience major to apply her talents and strengths in a business setting.
Constantly exploring and looking for ways to challenge herself, she also pursued teaching assistant (TA) opportunities at the university.
Anna’s Advice for Incoming Students
“At UNH, you can really shape what you get out of it,” she says. “For me, I wanted to have experience teaching, so I worked as a biochemistry TA, then a marketing TA. I feel that the best way to learn something is to be able to teach it. When you solve a problem, you might just see it one way, but when you teach, you have to know that there are 15 different ways to solve that problem, because everyone is going to look at it in a different way. You have to understand all the ways students are going to think.”
But among all she’s done during her time at UNH, she cites organic chemistry — the bane of many students’ existence — as her most valuable academic experience.
“I loved it because you’re given a starting molecule and an ending molecule and you have to trace how you get from one to the other,” she says. “There’s not just one solution, but there is a way that might have fewer reactants or steps, and you’ll have to work to come up with that. You might fail before you figure it out, but I’ve learned that’s OK — both in work and in life.”
As for the job Gruen interviewed for? She got it.
In July, she’ll move to Chicago to become a life science consultant for Navigant. Her work will include pricing strategies, market assessments and merger and investment analysis for the company’s pharmaceutical and biotech clients.
Now back to the idea of success.
With all she’s accomplished so far, does she feel successful?
“I think success is: Are you happy? Are you working toward what you want to be working toward?” she says, smiling. “So, yes.”