Coursera Reviews | Glassdoor

Coursera Reviews

Updated October 22, 2017
59 reviews

Filter

Filter

Full-timePart-time

4.0
StarStarStarStarStar
Rating TrendsRating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda
Jeff Maggioncalda
3 Ratings

59 Employee Reviews

Sort: PopularRatingDate

Pros
  • mission-driven company that attracts passionate people (in 8 reviews)

  • A bunch of great perks and free food (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • Lots of incompetent middle managers (in 6 reviews)

  • The business model has been a struggling issue since the beginning of the company (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (3)

    "Best gig I've had so far"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in Mountain View, CA
    Current Employee - Director in Mountain View, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Coursera full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I've worked at >5 companies in Silicon Valley including Google, and Coursera is my favorite by far. Here's why:

    1) Coursera is not too big and not too small. At ~300 people, the company is in the "goldilocks zone," size-wise. It's not so big that you feel insulated from the market and like a cog in a big machine. It's not so small that you have to wear lots of different functional hats and you lack the functional support that you need to do your primary role well. At Coursera, you have good cross-functional support, you know all/most of your colleagues, and you can stay close to customers, learners, etc.

    2) Coursera is a mission-driven organization. All/most people who are here wouldn't be here if they didn't have a strong sense of urgency about the transformative role that high quality, accessible education/learning can have for the world. This attitude manifests in objective discussions and debates that are focused on determine the right course of action to accomplish the mission vs. ego-driven discussions about people's subjective opinions. People do have opinions, but they take a back seat to facts and alignment around those facts.

    3) Coursera is a super inclusive organization. True openness to hearing everyone's ideas and taking them into consideration is somewhat rare in Silicon Valley. Executives often pay lip service to inclusivity regardless of level, quite often focusing on promoting their own agenda and perspectives. At Coursera, the executive team genuinely seeks employees' perspectives and opinions. Ultimately they can't make decisions that everyone is happy with, but they generally seek to understand diverse perspectives before making a final decision. Sometimes decisions get re-opened and re-examined in response to people's considerations, which I think is healthy but can be a little frustrating sometimes as well.

    Cons

    We are a 5 year old startup and we have multiple "startups within a startup" – as such we are learning as we go and it's not a smooth ride. Anyone who wants structure, consistency and predictability in their daily jobs may have a tough time here.

    If you don't feel SUPER EXCITED about the Coursera mission, don't bother applying – this isn't really a con per se but is important for potential applicants to understand.

    Part of being inclusive is valuing all functions equally. Often functions in companies have a clear hierarchy (e.g. at Google it's engineering über alles). At Coursera, There is no clear hierarchy which can make the strategic decision-making process messier. I personally love the fact that "everyone's voice counts," but some people may be frustrated by the duel-edged sword nature of an evenly balanced power structure.

    Advice to Management

    1) Keep your mission focus with financial sustainability as a means to the end, not vice-versa.
    2) Continue to emphasize diversity and inclusion both in hiring and in making key decisions.
    3) Don't let the "On My Mind" series lapse or become impersonal/inauthentic.


  2. "Great place to work, still experiencing start up growth pains"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Coursera full-time

    Pros

    Great perks and benefits, smart and driven team, excellent mission

    Cons

    It's a start up, so leadership can be unaligned at times and the goals can get blurry.

  3. Helpful (5)

    "Fun culture, high growth potential, broad strategy"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Mountain View, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Mountain View, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Coursera full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Culture
    It depends on the team, but overall, people are nice and genuinely care about each others wellbeing.

    High Level Communication
    Our Executive Team is transparent and keeps employees informed about what is happening. However, communication and cross-functional alignment between teams can be improved.

    Cons

    Recognition
    With a sub-par management layer and HR team, Coursera's promotion and compensation philosophy is vaguely defined. Employees are not given sufficient guidance to envision their long term career growth at this company. The total compensation is not competitive relative to similar roles at other companies.

    Retention
    During my short tenure at Coursera, the majority of our stellar employees have left or are in discussion of leaving. Even in my team, we tripled our size within a year though IC intelligence, productivity, and passion is considerably lower.

    Innovation
    We are years behind other Silicon Valley companies in our technology. Not only does the product support only basic functionality, it is built in a hacky fashion and is incredibly glitchy.

    Advice to Management

    Reduce middle management layer and clean out the deadweight. Become highly selective in the interviewing process and choose only exceptional candidates.

    Create more career growth opportunities for ICs that does not involve switching to the manager track.

    Hire more experienced engineers and reduce the size of non-engineering teams. I work in a non-engineering team, and will continue to advocate for us to invest more in our Product teams as we are a tech company.

    Be transparent on our goals and execution plan. The vision statement is always displayed in meetings right after we discuss a sensitive or controversial initiative which makes it feel hollow. It is okay to want to be a profitable company, but do not hide the execution plan behind fluff such as "improving accessibility for all" when it really is just for a subset of learners.

    To succeed in the EdTech space, we cannot be just a platform that our partners use to create content. We need to have more leverage and find ways to be in better control of our revenue projections and actual growth.


  4. Helpful (5)

    "Circus without the fun"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Pros: Free food. Brand name. A few good people. Free courses. What else? ...that's it. I really can't think of anything else.

    Cons

    Management was arrogant and engaged in a bunch of other side gigs. Strategy wasn't clear. Low performers were tolerated and even rewarded. Lack of accountability throughout the company. Raises not consistent. Bad office location with an in-office culture. There were times when I should have been brought in on decisions, but management liked to pretend to know what they were doing and disregard people with knowledge of the actual space.

    Advice to Management

    Get it together. You owe it to the employees and investors. Focus on your day jobs instead of all your other consulting and board gigs.


  5. "Partnerships Manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Coursera full-time

    Pros

    Great mission, product and people to work with.

    Cons

    Some managers struggle with setting clear goals and expectations.


  6. Helpful (4)

    "Amazing co-workers but subpar management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Mountain View, CA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Mountain View, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Coursera full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I love most of the people at Coursera. They're really quirky, fun, and wicked smart to work with. In the early days it's also really satisfying to work in a company that provides free education. The benefits are really great too. A small gym, free food, and proximity to Mountain View Castro makes it even better. The mission to provide education to the world is amazing, although it's a bit sad to see that it's not a non-profit, and leaning towards money money money these days.

    Cons

    The business model has been a struggling issue since the beginning of the company. This is mostly due to conflicting goals of providing free education and making tons of money. There is a strong clique of ivies so if you're not one of them, you're an outsider. Politics is rampant. Watch out for groups with huge turnover rates, just google search for "24 tech companies losing talent at an astonishing rate" and you'll see. Many original people left in disgust and left for other tier-1 companies nearby, which have more mature managers, much better compensations, and more interesting work.

    Advice to Management

    We've already burned through 2 co-founders and an outside CEO, and it's clear that academics do not make good managers. When people problems arise, these academics are reluctant to step in (e.g. "this is below my level" syndrome). Middle management is young, immature, incapable, and often times rude. They're promoted because they used to know the professors who founded Coursera. The best advice is to provide manager trainings, remove leaders who are there thanks to nepotism, and fire jerks ASAP.

    As they say, if you can't beat them, join them. Tons of wonderful people left, so maybe it's not a bad idea to cut your loses and leave too.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Fun cultture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Mission Driven
    Fun loving
    Young
    Diverse
    Work life balance
    Kind culture
    Supportive
    Flexible

    Cons

    Not very innovative
    Slow paced
    Limited cross functional collaboration
    Salary and stock options lower

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Great place to Work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Mountain View, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Mountain View, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Talented and smart ppl all around. Core pillars truly reflect in day to day interactions.

    Cons

    Growth challenges, but guess there is a good attention to address issues.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to care of people.


  9. Helpful (4)

    "Great company for engineers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Coursera full-time

    Pros

    - Good cash compensation for low-mid level engineers
    - Large amounts of autonomy on how to solve problems
    - Lots of very smart engineers and interesting systems to learn from
    - Recent focus on profit means the company seems to be fairly successful at growing revenue
    - Very nice, very smart, very nerdy people

    I strongly recommend Coursera for engineers (especially new grads but it's good for all experience levels). It's not the same company it was a few years ago and you might be disappointed if you're driven by the mission of education for everyone, but it's a great place to learn.

    Cons

    - Poor compensation on everything else (stock, 401k, benefits)
    - Have lost a lot of the quirky culture over the past few years, and the company feels very corporate now. Still pay lip service to "mission-driven" but it doesn't feel authentic, and just overall feels less fun - much more safe and predictable.
    - many of the best engineers have left recently
    - Senior management changes strategies often and doesn't seem to have good justification for new strategies. Highly reactive without a strong inspiring vision
    - It's a small thing, but the food is pretty bad

    Advice to Management

    Choose a vision for the company and stick to it. Hold PMs and managers accountable.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Great start-up environment!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Coursera full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Ability to influence and make a difference in the company and via the mission

    Cons

    Nothing unexpected given its a start up on a bold mission

    Advice to Management

    Push your teams to be more innovative.


Showing 59 of 73 reviews
Reset Filters