Monday, October 25, 2021

Meet a recent Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador graduate: Alexandru Petrescu

This is the next installment of our blog series highlighting Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors who achieved the Gold milestone and have recently graduated from university. Each blog in the series features a different student and highlights their accomplishments, their experience with the Student Ambassadors community, and what they’re up to now.


Today we’d like to introduce Alexandru Petrescu who is from Romania and recently graduated from University Politehnica of Bucharest with a Master’s in Artificial Intelligence after obtaining a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Artificial Intelligence.


Gold Student Ambassador: Alexandru PetrescuGold Student Ambassador: Alexandru Petrescu


Responses have been edited for clarity and length. 



When you joined the Student Ambassador community in 2015, did you have specific goals you wanted to reach, such as a particular skill or quality?  What were they?  Did you achieve them? How has the program impacted you in general? 


I didn’t join with something particular in mind. I just wanted to learn and grow in general. I had been fascinated by technology for a long time and could not decide on a specific area.  That’s why today I’m a full-stack engineer and AI researcher--everything is fascinating. The community changed me from just wanting to be a professional to becoming a teacher because, you know, sharing is caring, and I care for the future.

I joined the Student Ambassador community’s Web and Clean-Code Path (similar to the current Leagues), and then since there was no Mobile Development Path, I created that path after I learned it on my own from Microsoft Docs for Xamarin. [Editor’s note: Leagues are groups within the Student Ambassador community dedicated to specific areas of technology or social issues]. Then I did the same for the AI Path while being an Instructor at the Microsoft Academy at my university for .NET and Databases.


What are the accomplishments that you’re the proudest of and why?


It is hard to decide because there are 3 equally “WOW” things I have done while I was a Student Ambassador:

  1. I organized and mentored a 40-person 24-hour in person hackathon back in 2019, which was incredible because until then, I was only a mentor but then I also got to coordinate everything else, which was considerably harder for me, but Microsoft and an agency helped a lot with the logistics part.
  2. I was a part of the Microsoft Mentor Booth at Junction X 2019 Helsinki, an international annual hackathon that brings together developers, designers, and entrepreneurs from around the world. When participants came to the booth, I would help them on the technical side, give them ideas and feedback, or answer any question in general.  I think there were about 3,000 participants.  The venue was huge, the biggest venue I have ever been., and just for the Microsoft Challenge, I think we had 50+ teams. That was wow! 3 days full of amazing people and amazing students.
  3. I was a speaker at Microsoft Ignite 2020, and I talked about “Intro to Machine Learning with Python” in which I discussed general stuff about machine learning and had a deeper dive into my area of focus, Natural Language Processing (NLP). Without my Student Ambassador Gold status, that would have not been possible, and I am super thankful for having had such an amazing opportunity to reach so many people. [Editor’s note: The Gold level is the highest level that one can achieve as a Student Ambassador and can only be attained through nominations from the Community Program Managers or from peers]


What have you been up to since graduation? 


I have just started my Ph.D. program for the next 3 years, but the next challenge is being a full-time employee at Microsoft in an Apps Consultant role. The path for me stays the same: grow and help the tech communities develop.  Just a different “title”, like always.


If you could redo your time as a Student Ambassador, is there anything you would have done differently?


The truthful answer is no. Let me explain.  I am an ambivert (introvert + extrovert), which means that with all people, I’m an introvert until we “link”, and then I become an extrovert. So, now, after hundreds of workshops, tens of events, and thousands of people met, I could say: ”I should have upped the pace into embracing the new challenges”, but that is not something possible as being initially shy is part of my nature, and I am proud of the result.


If you were to describe the community to a student who is interested in joining, what would you say about it to convince him or her to join?


The community is like hanging out with your friends who also know a lot about technology and who also want to know even more. Oh, and your friends also know more people from outside of your country with the same drive and passion, so you get to hang out with them also. And Microsoft employees and Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals and… So have you applied yet?


What advice would you give to new Student Ambassadors?


Learn as much as you can, and then share what you’ve learned with others and then, finally, repeat. The only way to make a better world is to have a better version of ourselves, and who can better accomplish that than us? To grow together, help others and get help when needed, everyone is super friendly here.


Do you have a motto in life, a guiding principle that drives you?


As cliché as it may sound, I have a similar one to Microsoft’s, so that is why I’m following “you guys”:  Empower people to achieve more through technology.


What is one random fact few people know about you?


While being an “all-tech guy” (Full Stack, AI research, teaching assistant at a technical university), my focus and a lot of my knowledge are about the human mind (behavior and way of thinking). My ultimate goal is to better understand what drives humans to do certain actions and for that, I know a lot of history, arts, literature, and psychology.  My area of focus is NLP where I use all my human-oriented knowledge to augment algorithms. I do know a lot of math and exact science also, but that is only to be able to fuel a structured way to the “Human Mind” formula.


Another random fact is that I plan on having a huge house where I will have: 8 dogs, 4 cats, a bearded dragon, a cockatoo, a macaw, and probably more. As long as it does not bite me too hard or sting, we are friends; I love all life.



Good luck to you in your journey, Alexandru!


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