Am I on Track?

I have recently been asking myself some tough questions about this journey.  I have found this very beneficial from a personal enrichment standpoint, however does this make sense from a career standpoint?

My thoughts have been influenced by this week’s EconTalk discussion on MOOCs. John Cochrane put together a PhD level course on Asset Pricing on Coursera.  The discussion left me with the question of how would employers look at completing a Coursera course (or other self-education) vs more traditional formal education (meaning college courses).

Based on my experience I know it is hard to make the case to employers that you know your stuff when you are self-taught.  I have been interviewed for a web development gig where the hiring manager couldn’t believe that my work was mine.  After all I don’t have a Computer Science degree.

So here is the question I am struggling with: Can I prove to people that I have the skills to get the job done even though I don’t have the sheepskin for  a University?


2 thoughts on “Am I on Track?

  1. Hey,

    I came across your blog after I marked one of your projects on Coursera, so I thought I’d comment. I know this is an old post but I was just skimming through your blog and found it, so I figured I’d comment on my thoughts.

    Similar to you, I am currently finishing a social science degree. However, though I have only just recently (last 5 months) began any sort of programming (with R and Python). Before that I was mainly a hardcore liberal arts student.

    I too am worried about how employers will view the Coursera education. My take? Perception here matters. Right now, I really doubt that certain traditional employers really know what the heck Coursera is. If you were to explain it, I bet you their perception would be that is “hokey” and not a “real” education (which is funny because taking statistical inference courses on Coursera have taught me WAY better than the crappy undergrad stats courses I took ever did with some old stats prof drowning on in class and then reading a stale textbook).

    Now, I haven’t got any proof or results yet to justify my assumption, but my plan of attack here is to completely omit the Coursera part of the education I’ve taken. So, in my resume, I will list the educational institutions only, and not the platform in which they were delivered. I mean, if I took a for credit course from Stanford University and it happened to be delivered by Moodle or WebCT, I wouldnt list that on my resume now would I?

    Instead, I will list the specialization with the university that gives it. It sounds a little misleading, but unfortunately perception is important for Resumes. So, my Data Science Interpretation Specialization from Wesleyan University seems much more prestigious than from “Coursera”. You have to remember lots of employers are old school, prestige based on their initial assessment of you. Im not going to put it down as a diploma or degree or lie about it, I am simply playing with my resume like everybody else.

    Now, this doesnt mean I will outright lie on my resume or interview. If they ask more details I’ll explain that these are courses delivered by the university online. Does it matter that its Coursera? Not really, in the end its just a platform. But why let someones bias’ about Coursera get your resume looked over? If you think your employer however WILL appreciate the self-taught background, and wont be easily swayed by grandeur of prestigious institutions, then put Coursera.

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