Akshay Kulkarni, age 22, a software engineer at Microsoft India, contacted us to share his inspiring story about how edX courses not only helped him rediscover his passion for programming, but also led him to a job at Microsoft.
My performance in high school and in the entrance exams to premier institutions was poor. As a result, I couldn’t get into any top tier colleges. Fortunately, I gained admission into the Computer Science program at a local engineering college. However, I found the classes uninteresting and didn’t learn anything substantially.
I was really confused and began considering other career options.
In 2012 when edx launched, I wanted to give it a shot and I took Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python by MIT.
This course turned my life around. I realized that not only was I good at programming, but also that I actually loved it.
After this I went on to take Introduction to Computer Science offered by Harvard University, Data Science for Genomics from Harvard. I also took on Engineering Software as a Service from UC Berkeley and was a community TA for these courses during the next term.
All of these courses played a huge part in my getting a job at Microsoft, but the SaaS courses from UC Berkeley were the most crucial ones. With Microsoft’s shifting strategy towards cloud, most of the interview questions were around cloud computing and how much we understood it. When asked if I knew about cloud computing I told them about the courses I had taken and that I was also a TA in the edX course. They were highly impressed with this. They were so impressed that while other candidates got grilled for hours with technical questions, my interviews were short and mostly HR based because of all the courses I took at edX.
One of the interviewers actually told me,
Your credentials show you are good at technical stuff so we won’t waste time by quizzing you on that.
Where’s Akshay now? He left his job at Microsoft to create his own Artificial Intelligence startup, Ozz.
My first introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a course from UC BerkeleyX and it’s was what got me interested in the field. Later on, I took the Machine Learning course from CaltechX.
Additionally, I wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship so I took the MITx course Entrepreneurship 101: Who Is Your Customer. I was invited to apply for MIT Global Entrepreneurship bootcamp in Seoul, South Korea after taking the course and I got in. My team came in 3rd position on demo day!
I believe that in a world that is changing as fast as it does, the only way to stay relevant is to continuously learn and keep improving your skill-set.
You can’t rely only on your college education and I think online learning from sites like edX helps you in improving, learning, and staying ahead in the market.