How do I actually land a job after completing Coursera Courses? | Coursera Community
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How do I actually land a job after completing Coursera Courses?

  • 28 December 2018
  • 6 replies
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I have BSc. in Computer Science and since I graduated in 2016, I have been working full time as a software Engineer. Even before graduating, I have had dreams of becoming a Machine Learning Engineer. To Achieve that goal, I started learning Python. After completing a Python Specialization here on Coursera, I proceeded to Complete Andrew Ng's Machine learning course. After that, he published he Deep Learning Specialization, which I immediately dove into. I am currently on week 2 out of 3 of the last (5th) course of the specialization and at this point, the questions that keeps ringing in my mind are;
"Where do I go from here?"
"How do I use what I have learned so far to land even an unpaid internship or a job?"
"Is this even enough to start a job?"

Please I need direction on this. I am thinking of starting the some "Mathematics for machine learning" courses, including Linear Algebra and Calculus but I feel like I already know enough of those, having completed a BSc in Computer Science.

What should I do? I really need hands on experience in industry.

(Moved to Data Science forum by @Laura)

6 replies

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Hi @Pila. These are really great questions, and I hope you get some replies from people in your industry.

While my background is not in computer science or data science, I have found it useful to find job postings for jobs/job titles I'm interested in so I can learn exactly what sorts of skills, education, and experience is desired for the position. If I find five job postings related to a job title I'd like to have and they all list three of the same skills, I might conclude that building or refining those skills are my priority.

I have also reached out to people working in my desired industry to ask if they would be willing to speak with me (either in person or on the phone) for an informational interview. Typically I've found people by networking with people I know already, whether they are coworkers, friends, or family. Here's a nice overview of the informational interview: How an informational interview can boost your career. The etiquette around this practice probably varies depending on your location and industry. Informational (or 'exploratory') interviews can help you better understand what steps to take next and sometimes they can lead to an actual work opportunity.

I'm not sure how useful this link will be, but I came across it while reading about machine learning interviews: The Big list of DS/ML Interview Resources.

And here's an article with a title that sounds promising! How to get a job working with artificial intelligence/machine learning

I also wanted to direct you to a few other threads in the Coursera community that you may find helpful:

How do I get a software engineer internship?

What should I do next after software development?

Additionally, we'd love to get your opinion in these 2 quick polls:

What do you want to learn in computer science webinars?

Which Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence topics would you like to learn most on Coursera?
Userlevel 4
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Okay, here's a super quick bio.

I graduated with a 1st class honours degree (4.0 gpa) in philosophy. I then taught myself programming via coursera and edx. I put those courses on the CV. 1200 job applications later I landed a junior software dev job. I'm still there 1 year later.

So, to answer your question. The first thing may probably need to land a job is: EFFORT!

It may prove to be an unpopular opinion round here but coursera courses really do lack the prestige and status of an actual degree; in my opinion the courses don't really open new doors to you UNLESS you already have relevant experience/formal education backing it up.

Coursera certificates are currently in my view close to worthless in terms of getting a job (I pay for the courses myself mainly to access the assignments and I also find it helps with motivation).

BUT, with that said the skills you acquire are very much real; I got hired because I performed very well on the take home assignment they sent out. Of course, I wouldn't have done nearly so well if I hadn't developed the skills in the first place. In short, the certificates are kinda meaningless to employees but the skills you can develop by doing them are very real indeed. If you can prove you have the skills nobody cares where you got them!

Talking about my job interview, I also probably got bonus points for the fact I had never coded in c# before taking their test (which I told them). And that leads me to my next point; On a cv/resume I think the Coursera courses are better thought of as a demonstrations of key "soft skills" rather than technical competence. Online courses are "honest signals" that says "hey! I'm motivated and willing to learn. Teach me!!". Also known as a "Growth mindset".

So how can we wrap this all up?

  1. Employees don't really understand/value online courses (yet?). Therefore, it will potentially take a lot of Job applications before somebody decides to gave them some weight. You want an ML job? Apply like crazy!
  2. The Skills are real, the certs are not. In other words, when doing courses try your best to not lose sight of the fact that skill acquisition is several times more important than certifications. Pick courses based on what you will learn the most doing, not based on which ones you can quickly/efficiently get a certificate in.
  3. On resumes/interviews, its probably better to sell participation in coursera courses as evidence of soft skills and "growth mindset" as opposed to using them to prove technical competence.
I totally agree @hamster ! Effort!
I know of several people who were told not to submit certificates for online courses for their job application.
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I also totally agree @hamster ! Effort!
You should build a portfolio with your ML projects to demonstrate your skills.
Another valuable approach is learning ML by doing ML on Kaggle.com.
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I have to agree with Lochcarron, who by coincidence sounds as Scottish as I am. Anyway back to what I was saying. I don't think it's a good idea to list online courses on your resume alongside formal awards.

Consider that you should list your IT certifications (A+ etc.) as Licenses or similar, rather than anything Formal. So why should these courses rank any higher? [Grey area all around, but same unwritten rules apply imo.] Of course if the online courses led to a recognized formal award from an actual institution of Higher Learning, then that's something completely different, since that is as valid as any other named award and SHOULD be listed on a resume.

The Google IT Professional Certificate, despite being a program of online courses, I believe has a valid place on a resume, beside an A+, Network+, MCP or similar. Similarly I believe the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate, has crossed that bridge into something which deserves a mention on your resume.

Rarely, this also applies to some Specialization's offered on Coursera; Here's an example. One Specialization on Coursera which was offered by Rice University, was particularly interesting in that the Professor said the University would recognize it. I'm not sure what that implies exactly, but something like that makes me more comfortable about listing that one on my resume, and naming the institution.

The Specializations, of course are still not formal qualifications, but definitely something better than a handful of online courses. So you could argue a case for listing those. In the main, and the best approach imo, is if you list the skills you developed doing the courses, rather than listing the courses themselves.

List the short courses on your Linkedin account instead, and give a link to that if you can, when you apply to jobs. Be bold, if asked about particular skills, don't be afraid then to say you are an active learner adding to your skills-base, utilizing all learning possibilities, and that those skills and courses can be seen on your Linkedin account.

Just my opinion of course, still too many gray areas, but as online learning becomes more mainstream, this could all change pretty fast. Divisions between formal awards and online awards are definitely crumbling. However, and this is my opinion, until online learning is considered credit-worthy and even given some transferable value, we will have a problem selling its value to an employer/recruiter or even a College which might allow us credit.

Hope this is of some value to someone, but in the main I'd say play it down a bit, and definitely leave anything less than a specialization off your resume.
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Hello @Pila, you have great accomplishments at Coursera, it's useful to put all your work in your LinkedIn profile and through interacting at Github.

You have already gained the needed skills in ML and DL, I highly recommend you to start building various projects in ML and adding them to your profile, this will improve your learning skills, and will prepare you to apply for any job in AI.

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