Hello, fellow Courserians, I’m Holly! Like many of you, I love learning. This is why I applied to be an intern at Coursera. My internship came to an end this week, and as I reflect back on the four months at Coursera, I treasure how much I learned about software development, edtech, and myself.
Interesting fact: I studied mathematics and accounting before switching into the computer science program at the University of Waterloo. Good choice. For fun, I play board games and design t-shirts.
My adventure at Coursera begins!
Seven interns, including myself, gathered in the Coliseum (a cafeteria/gathering room) on the first Monday of January. We were Coursera’s first Canadian interns, all from the University of Waterloo. We were lovingly nicknamed the “Winterns” because our internship spanned mostly the winter months. I escaped the cold Canadian winter and received a warm Californian welcome.
My Coursera experience was drastically different compared to my prior internship at an accounting firm. At the firm, I felt very much like an “intern"–I was supportive to the team, but wasn’t given much responsibility and my overall impact was limited. At Coursera, however, I was given challenging, meaningful tasks and my opinions were considered as if I was a careered engineer. I was empowered to actively contribute to the Coursera code base and culture.
Helping make Coursera better
In the first half of my internship, I worked on a revamp of the “About Coursera” pages and shipped a highly requested feature for the instructor administrative panel. The upgrade to the admin panel will help instructors craft and manage their communications to learners like you. In between projects, I was assigned bugs to squash. Frankly, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it! Turns out, debugging and resolving user-facing issues was rewarding and fun to me.
Though resolving bugs was satisfying, a new project caught my eye: the Future Learning Experience (FLEX) product. Coursera is transparent and supportive to its employees, so I felt comfortable asking the team if I could participate. Within a week, I was pushing code to FLEX– that was easy! Out of the 3 projects I worked on, this one was my favourite because I got to work with a team, striving to meet the same goals and deadlines.
Immersed in Coursera’s Fun and Quirky Culture
My co-workers–from the executive team to my fellow Winterns–are spirited and fun. Our teammates helped us Canadian Winterns make the most of our four month stay in California. We were taken on team outings, went rock climbing, and were introduced to many delicious Bay Area restaurants.
One of my favorite parts about working at Coursera, however, is that the team encourages everyone to initiate group, workplace activities that we are personally interested in. What do I love the most? Board games! So of course, I started Board Game Night.
The Coursera team is even accepting of some of my wilder ideas, like bringing over 100 college students to visit the office and meet co-founder Andrew Ng!
Now for the bittersweet goodbyes
I enjoyed my 4 month internship here at Coursera and would 100% recommend Coursera to any potential intern! The company provided me the opportunity to learn, with caring mentorship and a great team to work beside. Big thanks to my mentor Leith and the talented engineers on the FLEX team. Though I’ll always hold on to the fond memories, I will miss my Coursera family!