Alina is a self-taught engineer from Berlin, Germany who turned to Coursera to gain the skills and knowledge she needed to break into the tech field.
Real-life projects for hands-on practice
When I started on this self-teaching road, there were many online resources to choose from but I stopped at Coursera because unlike other platforms, it offers a complete experience: lectures, readings, tutorials, and real-life projects for hands-on practice. I like that courses cover introductory, intermediate, and advanced material, so that the learning continues whatever stage I’m at. It’s also important to know that I’m being taught by experts in the field who have the knowledge and training to be teaching in these subjects.
As a self-taught engineer, I basically learned everything I know about software and data systems online. I studied Foreign Languages and Literature in school, but I transitioned into tech in 2017 after one and a half years of intense study while on maternity leave.
I completed the following courses:
- Programming for Everybody from the University of Michigan
- Data Management and Visualization from Wesleyan University
- Applied Machine Learning in Python from the University of Michigan
- Data Manipulation at Scale: Systems and Algorithms from the University of Washington
- Data Analysis Tools from Wesleyan University
- Algorithmic Toolbox from the University of California San Diego
From these courses, I learned how to code; how to store, manipulate, analyze, and interpret data; and how to use mathematical concepts like big O notation and algorithms. With this knowledge, I then knew what to look for in a job.
The Job Search
I listed all my certificates on LinkedIn and the projects that I completed in my Coursera courses on Github. Recruiters reached out to me and many of these conversations turned into interviews. My course certificates conveyed that I’m a persistent and dedicated learner. While not all my interviews resulted in a job offer, they gave me the opportunity to better understand my weaknesses and knowledge gaps. I jumped right back into online courses to address those needs and fill in those gaps. I am happy that Coursera offered me the chance to gain knowledge in a lot of new topics that are in demand and prove that I have the skills needed for the job!
To Be Continued…
Since the start of my self-learning journey and transition to tech, I’ve gone through multiple roles in data analysis, software development, software engineering, and data engineering. I’m thrilled to be working in a career I love!
What’s next for me? Well, my goal is to keep getting better at programming, to return to computer science fundamentals, and really dive deeper into the topics of which I’ve only scratched the surface. I’m currently enrolled in Big Data Essentials: HDFS, MapReduce and Spark RDD from Yandex, and I also want to learn more about distributed systems and container technologies.
The possibilities of what I can learn is endless, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for me.21