1. Home
  2. insider picks
  3. news
  4. This is the free Google online course in Python programming I wish I took before I started my master's degree

This is the free Google online course in Python programming I wish I took before I started my master's degree

Gareen Puglia   

This is the free Google online course in Python programming I wish I took before I started my master's degree

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

  • Coursera's Crash Course on Python offers a great introduction to Python and programming.
  • This online course isn't as intense as a graduate-level class but still provides a solid foundation.

This past fall, I began my master's program in Information Management and Systems at UC Berkeley. I enrolled in two introductory courses that covered the fundamentals of coding in Python as well as data structures and object-oriented programming.

The classes were hard. Though I did have some introductory knowledge to support me, I struggled in this intensive, graduate-level course load. I was able to pass in the end, but felt like I had just run a marathon without any water.

After my first semester, my confidence in my Python knowledge was low, and I began to wonder about alternative ways to learn to code. Were there other options I should have explored to help me through my transition to the academic field of technology and information?

This led me to Coursera's Crash Course on Python offered by Google (part of a longer Google certificate program in IT automation with Python). During some free time at the beginning of my spring semester, I audited this online course for free to catch up on the subjects I still struggled to grasp.

Coursera Crash Course on Python$0.00 FROM COURSERA

Coursera Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate$0.00 FROM COURSERA

Taught by Christine Rafla, a Site Reliability Engineer at Google (who was a Systems Administrator at the time the course was filmed), this flexible, six-week course is designed to teach the fundamentals of programming in Python to beginners. It also offers insights into what a career in IT would look like.

Simply put, it's the course I wish I took before I started my graduate program. It gave me all the foundations for me to feel comfortable with more complex concepts. You can browse the course for free as I did, or pay to get a certificate of completion to add to your LinkedIn profile.

I also think the full Google IT Automation certificate program can be a great investment if you specifically want to move into an IT career, as the course was very intentional in preparing individuals for these types of roles.

What to expect from Google's Crash Course on Python

Like most of Coursera's online courses, the class consists of six weeks of modules that include lecture videos, readings, practice quizzes, and grades assessments. While watching the videos, pop-up quizzes test your comprehension of the material.

As part of the readings, there are cheat sheets that provide a quick rundown of all the concepts discussed in the particular module. The course provides context for beginners by introducing Python and then continuing through all the basic concepts used to program with this language.

At the end of each module, there's a short video from the curriculum developer Marga Manterola, a Site Reliability Engineer at Google. In these short videos, she shares her journey in learning programming, her experience as a woman working in IT, and other interesting insights into her career at Google.

What I loved about the course

This crash course provided a fantastic introduction to programming and Python. Rafla's energy fostered a welcoming and encouraging environment and the material covered a comprehensive overview that accumulated into writing a script in Python. It's even filled with programming puns, which I thought was a fun added bonus.

The course also contextualizes lessons in real-world examples. For instance, the instructor explains how she used a loop in her IT role at her job and discusses mistakes she made while writing her first script. I found this extremely helpful since there were times I wondered how programming concepts are actually used in the workplace in my introductory graduate course. Though these examples were explicitly relevant to IT work, they helped make complicated concepts digestible.

But my absolute favorite part of this course was the availability of cheat sheets. Learning to program is exactly like learning a new language. Maintaining a working vocabulary can be difficult, which is why making flashcards or using cheat sheets can be so useful. The cheat sheets provided from this course rivaled the homemade ones I had made studying for my midterm and finals in graduate school — I wish I had them back then.

How it compared to my graduate-level classes

The material covered in both my graduate course and this one was extremely similar — both were very much an introduction to programming and to Python. But the online course allowed me to go at my own pace, instead of the mandatory two-hour lectures I attended twice a week in school.

The main difference between this course and the one I took as part of my graduate program is the constant emphasis on IT roles. The Crash Course on Python provides a practical application of how the concepts taught would be used in an IT job. I found the course to be more basic (in a good way) in its examples of programming and in its assignment prompts. This was great for a relative beginner in using Python.

In general, I wish I had taken this online course before my graduate semester began — for the cheat sheets alone, this class would have helped me solidify my knowledge of Python before I began a more accelerated course.

Is it worth it to get a Coursera certificate?

It really depends on your goals. If you're looking for a basic introduction to Python, the certificate isn't worth it since you can get access to the lectures and readings for free if you audit the course. But if you're attempting to make a career change and want to continue on through the programming courses Google offers on Coursera, $39 a month for graded homework assignments and a certificate of completion is a great deal.

For me, taking the course for free was a fantastic experience. It was a great refresher of Python and did not interfere with my current course load in the second semester of my master's program. I would recommend trying the course out for free beforehand. You can always upgrade to get the certificate later on, or audit the course like I did.

The bottom line

If you're interested in learning Python, this course is a great place to start. Though it won't make you a data scientist in six weeks, it'll provide a solid foundation and great cheat sheets for you to continue on in your programming journey.

Coursera Crash Course on Python$0.00 FROM COURSERA

Coursera Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate$0.00 FROM COURSERA


Popular Right Now