How to Get a Job at Coursera

Coursera, fresh on landing $43 million in funding, will double the size of its workforce to approximately 100 people, all of whom will work at its Mountain View headquarters.

GraduateAbout half of the new positions will be in engineering and technology, says Sangeeta Narayan, the company’s head of talent recruiting. More specifically, the jobs will include infrastructure and DevOps to help with site reliability and its ability to scale. Back-end engineers with skills in Java and C++ will be among the folks the company will seek out, as will be analytics engineers who are skilled in Big Data and Hadoop.

The company is also planning to build out a mobile team that will first focus on iOS, then move on to Android. “We don’t have a native mobile app yet and mobile is a big push for us this year,” Narayan explains. “We’re trying to build a mobile team and have a strategy around that.”

Coursera’s users include students and professors who teach a range of online courses, from biology to mathematics to computer science. Its 200 partner universities include Princeton, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Brown University.

Landing at Coursera

During Coursera’s hiring process, engineers face two technical phone screening interviews, followed by an on-site meeting. During technical tests for coding and algorithms, managers are more interested in seeing how you arrive at your conclusions than whether or not your answer’s right. They’ll also be looking to see whether you’re a cultural fit.

“Cultural fit is the most important thing we hire for. Some of the technical skills can be learned on the job, but the cultural fit is important because that is a day-to-day fit,” Narayan says. “At any stage of a company’s size, from a startup to a Fortune 500 company, cultural fit far outweighs anything else.”

Advice for Seasoned Professionals

When it comes to hiring seasoned IT experts, Coursera seeks out geeks with technical leadership skills and the ability to conceptualize and build end-to-end systems. Four other key traits include:

  • Accelerated growth in his/her professional career.
  • Ability to deliver products on time.
  • Hands on and strong engineering skills.
  • And all the attributes listed for college grads (below).

“I have worked with so many companies and helped build the engineering teams, I can truly say our team embodies all these qualities and more,” Narayan says. “Our people are very genuine and fun to be around. The brainpower under one roof is just mind blowing.”

Advice for New Graduates

Coursera, which held its first open house for interns this fall, is eager to hire college grads. But, of course, it wants the grads that it hires to ace these attributes.

First, cultural fit. The company looks for candidates who exude a positive vibe with the team and are humble, as well as offer the ability to be a team player in a fun, fast paced, high growth startup environment.

Then there’s the ability to come up to speed quickly and work independently, since you’ll be expected to push code into production soon after joining the company.  Of course, excellent coding capabilities, strong problem-solving skills and an overall rock solid engineering foundation are key.

“We look for those who initiated or worked on impressive independent projects, contributed to open source projects, won coding competitions or started a company during their college years,” Narayan says. He adds that Coursera likes to see graduatess who have demonstrated leadership skills or the ability to take initiative.

On the cultural fit side of the equation, the company also wants candidates who are passionate about its mission to democratize education globally and are able to have fun outside of work. Some of the things that the company’s engineers enjoy are swing dancing, laser quest, karaoke and paddle boating.