[Life@Coursera] Why I chose Coursera as my first engineering job out of college

Cathy Chi
Cathy Chi
Nov 22 · 3 min read

About the author: Cathy joined Coursera in August as a new grad engineer on the Growth Discovery Team. She is a mission-driven engineer who likes to “do good,” an avid cyclist who loves funky socks, and a major foodie who… loves food.


How do you even begin to decide where you should work after graduation? Where, as in location? Company? Team?

I struggled through answering those questions before I even started my senior year of university. Eventually, I figured out what I valued the most, what would fulfill me the most, and what would teach me the most. From there, I arrived at Coursera. The journey started from the summer just before my final year.

At the time, I was interning at a different company. It was a supportive, intellectually challenging, and collaborative company, and I was assigned a crucial project — internationalizing the entire user experience for the admin platform. The culture, people, and technology were the exact jigsaw tiles to my ideal workplace. However, the final piece was missing, and I realized it was the mission.

To decide where I fit in best and which company fit me best, I optimized for career growth, people, mission, and location. These were the four criteria I wanted to rigorously evaluate for every company I planned to apply to and/or received offers from. They helped me narrow down and focus on the few companies I was actually interested in.

Realizing that the mission was missing from my past internship was helpful. I found I wanted to never question why I was working on certain projects or who they would impact. I resonated with Coursera’s mission to offer high quality learning to anyone, anywhere. I’m privileged to have attended and graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree, and I want others to have the same opportunities. I know Coursera is the right place to make an impact and make that impact meaningful.

I also wanted a company whose employees really cared about one another. Before joining Coursera, I already sensed that mentors and leaders there invested in their people. The CEO and VP of engineering invited me to have lunch at Coursera so that I could learn more about the company. When I was debating my team options, several managers and engineers at Coursera hopped on the phone with me to help me find my best fit. I knew I’d be taken care of.

Especially as a new grad, I prioritize my career projection, and because Coursera is growing rapidly, I have many opportunities for learning. During my interviews, all the engineers emphasized their ownership over their projects from development to QA to deployment. Even though I’m still fairly new to Coursera, I have found those testimonials to be true — I’m currently owning and piloting an experiment for a new search experience.

I grew up on the East Coast, and location was my final consideration when I narrowed my decision down to two cities — New York and San Francisco. After I had flown back from my last final-round interviews, my Uber driver advised me, “You’re so young in your career. Immerse yourself in it. Then you can diversify.” In context, I took this to mean that location isn’t permanent. I can start in one place, and ultimately learn and grow anywhere.

So, here I am, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Coursera is hiring! If you’re interested in applying engineering to advancing the future of education, check out our open roles here.

Coursera Engineering

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Cathy Chi

Written by

Cathy Chi

Coursera Engineering

We're changing the way the world learns! Posts from @Coursera engineers and data scientists!

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