As part of our Meet the Courserians blog series, we caught up with Giovanni Bonin, a Software Engineer at Coursera working on the Growth team. Giovanni is passionate about expanding Coursera’s reach around the world largely because of his own experiences as a Coursera learner.
What was your path to Coursera?
As I was growing up in a small town in Brazil, I always knew that I wanted to leave the country and work in technology. When I was 15, I was an exchange student in South Carolina and attended an American high school where I took my first engineering class. That year solidified my desire to come to the US, move to Silicon Valley, and work in tech. Through my new online network of fellow exchange students, I discovered Coursera. Suddenly I could study everything I’d been wanting to and through these top courses that the Ivy League students had. The year before college I took six or seven courses on Coursera at a time, from basic programming to Daphne’s advanced courses.
When I got to university, thanks to what I’d studied on Coursera, my professors were confused by the advanced concepts I already knew. In college I joined the Code2040 Fellows Program, which showed me how I could use my technical skills to solve immediate problems affecting people across the world, and it really amplified the passion I already had from growing up in a developing country. As a kid, the dream had always been to work with the coolest tech, robots, drones, that kind of stuff. When I thought about everything I’d wanted to do as a kid, but couldn’t, I realized what had enabled me to work with robots and other cool tech was Coursera. It gave me the skills to tackle this technology without having to go to Stanford, MIT, or one of the big companies. It’s amazing that I can help Coursera scale that to the whole world and help other people give life to their own passions like I did.
What is challenging about your job here?
Before I came here, I was mostly working with back-end. I wanted to expand my scope and work with front-end as well because I’ve realized my passion for building projects end-to-end. I also wanted to join the Growth team. It resonates with the excitement I have for helping Coursera expand. My manager was super open to supporting me with this. It’s amazing how helpful my mentor, manager, and whole team have been in this process.
What is fulfilling about working at Coursera?
I like that I’m actually able to get involved with discussions about how to improve our product. It’s especially satisfying because I came here with a passion for both the tech and the product. During my time at Coursera so far, I’ve been able to really connect with product managers and others working cross-functionally. We can have discussions about everything from why we’re choosing specific names to brand our product to the future of personalized learning. I feel included in what’s happening around the company.
What’s something you’re passionate about?
There are a lot of problems that I am strongly passionate about and seek to tackle in my lifetime, but because I grew up with such dedication and limited access to high quality education, I wanted to tackle education first and foremost. There is such a long way to go to fix it. Why is it the case that somebody is spending so much money on a school or degree that won’t help him or her get a job to pay back those student loans? I want to see universities caring more about the return on investment students are experiencing. In our current system everybody is getting hurt. Given the technology we have today, there is no reason for us to have such a system. Andrew and Daphne proved that they can create a course and scale it to hundreds of thousands of people. We’ve proven how many millions of users we can get. Now it’s a matter of figuring out how to adjust things in just the right way to make education more inclusive for users of different needs, learning styles, and cultures.
What would you say to someone considering a position at Coursera?
My experience here is exceeding my expectations in terms of the engineering work, product, and company engagement. I came to Coursera with the hope of engaging with a large subset of the company to solve engineering as well as business problems and the opportunities to do exactly that are all over the place. That wasn’t true with my prior experiences at larger companies. Right here, however, people are open to new ideas and trying them out. The culture is amazing. I feel an excitement and willingness to have constructive conversations here. So if you feel ready, I encourage you to apply right away! Come to Coursera!
Interested in becoming part of the Coursera team? Check out our Careers Page to learn more about available positions, company values, and perks and benefits of working at Coursera.6