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This is the next segment of our blog series highlighting Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors who have achieved the Gold milestone and recently graduated from university. Each blog in the series features a different student and highlights their accomplishments, their experience with the Student Ambassador community, and what they’re up to now.
Today we meet Chirag Sharma who is from India and recently graduated from Rustamji Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in information technology.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
When you joined the Student Ambassador community in January of 2020, did you have specific goals you wanted to reach, such as a particular skill or quality?
Though I was already a part of a college community of students passionate about tech, I wanted a community beyond my campus to learn, interact with people from all over the world, and have an opportunity to make a difference globally.
The Student Ambassador community changed my perspective on making goals and helped me realize my true potential, as I started working toward achieving things I wouldn’t even have dreamt of before I joined the program. When I joined, I was an introverted person with ample stage fear. The community helped me make valuable connections with like-minded people working towards the same goal of enhancing our knowledge and uplifting people around us. I got the opportunity to work with and occasionally even lead teams of diverse people and eventually started speaking at global conferences and giving workshops to professionals around the world.
I went from being a mentee to becoming a mentor in this program, and I came out as an entirely different individual from when I joined, as I built my overall personality and skills.
What were the accomplishments that you’re the proudest of and why?
Being a Student Ambassador, I got several opportunities to speak at global conferences and summits, I spoke in a CyberTalks podcast as part of a team of three Student Ambassadors in collaboration with MSInspir to spread awareness about the latest cyberattacks and how people and organizations alike can prevent them. We are planning to create projects and a website to share the latest news about cybersecurity to reach more people.
I also spoke at the Cloud Summit 2021 (Azure Focused) where I discussed how to protect your web apps with Azure Web Application Firewall. That was the first time I spoke at an event of this level, where the speakers and audience were professionals from far and wide. It was exhilarating that I got to speak in front of such a large audience and share my expertise.
What are you doing now that you’ve graduated?
I always had a keen interest in information security. In a domain like this one, there are rarely any jobs for the inexperienced due to the seriousness of the work and how a single mistake can cost millions to an organization, so I plan to get some IT experience involving development to better understand how things work before I can work on securing them, simultaneously working on my skills.
Eventually, I will be moving forward with my career in information security as a penetration tester, someone who ethically penetrates an organization to find vulnerabilities, or a red teamer who tests the ability of the security team in an organization.
If you could redo your time as a Student Ambassador, is there anything you would have done differently?
The only thing I would have changed is to join the program in my freshman year itself, maximizing the time I could have had in the program and building more connections along the way.
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?
This program is different from any other student ambassador program. Do not confuse it with campus ambassador programs. This community is an opportunity to build your skills and make valuable connections. You’ll get an opportunity to not only impact your student community but lead a global community of students from countries around the world. A community like no other, this program allows you to learn directly from Microsoft experts, and the Student Ambassador Community Program Managers are always there to help and guide the students.
However much effort you put in, you will always get more than you ever gave to the program.
What advice would you give to new Student Ambassadors?
When you join, use every opportunity to connect and engage with people around you and make connections along the way.
Student Ambassadors with Global Program Manager Pablo Veramendi
The program milestones are a way to encourage you to work, not a burden or a task. Use the opportunity to build your skills and do it from your heart, not just to advance to a milestone. And don’t become inactive when you think you are done with the milestones. Instead, use the opportunity to have more fun talks with other Student Ambassadors, work on projects on different teams, and utilize speaking opportunities on global platforms.
What is your motto in life, your guiding principle?
I have always believed in never giving up until I achieve what I aspired for and have always looked upon this quote by Winston Churchill as a guiding principle: “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”
What is one random fact about you that few people are aware of?
Being a bookworm, I have always loved reading books and can’t live a day without one.
Good luck to you in all your endeavors, Chirag!