This series highlights Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors who achieved the highest milestone of Gold and graduated from university. Each blog features a different student and highlights their accomplishments, their experience with the Student Ambassadors program, and what they’re up to now.
Today we’d like to introduce Gihan Siriwardhana who is from Sri Lanka and graduated recently from the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
When you joined the community in 2019, 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?
When I started my undergraduate life, talking in front of a larger crowd was a nightmare to me. So, I identified my lack of social skills and wanted to improve myself. Also, I was really interested in cloud technologies and wanted to follow a more practical path toward learning new technologies. I saw that being a Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador could help me to achieve both of my biggest goals. After three years, I can now talk in front of any number of people without preparation, and I am working as a software engineer because of my knowledge and experience in cloud technologies.
What are the accomplishments that you’re the proudest of and why?
At my university, two other seniors and I created a society called the Microsoft Club to bridge the gap between undergraduate life and life as a professional. I was the first president, and now it is one of the most well-known societies in the university. Also, we managed to spread the concept to a few other universities as well, so we now have around 6 Microsoft Clubs in Sri Lanka, and we all worked together to achieve great goals.
One other accomplishment that I am very proud is that I organized an event along with fellow Student Ambassadors from Sri Lanka called the Cloud Skills Challenge. The event ran at the same time at 10 universities all over Sri Lanka with about 1000 participants who were trying to win Microsoft Azure AI Fundamentals exam vouchers.
What’s next for you? What have you been you doing after graduation?
I have started my career as a software engineer at Sysco LABS Technologies, which develops the main solution for Sysco, but I will always continue my journey in helping others and raising awareness of new technologies.
If you could redo your time with the Student Ambassadors community, is there anything you would have done differently?
I don't think so because everything worked perfectly well, and I am proud that I have supported the next generation to continue the good work. But maybe, since we were not allowed to have in-person events for very long after I joined, I would have organized a few more in-person events before the pandemic.
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?
Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors is a member-driven community which helps members to improve their technical as well as soft skills while creating a network with people who have the same interests. Also, it comes with attractive benefits such as Cloud Advocate advisors, Azure credits, swag and endless learning content and opportunities.
What advice would you give to new Student Ambassadors?
Do not consider this as just another accomplishment to add to your resume, but an opportunity that very few people receive where they can do lot of good things. Use this opportunity to give back to the community, help people in need, and of course improve yourself.
Do you have a motto in life, a guiding principle that drives you?
Never stop learning. Learn, practice and teach. Then success will follow you.
What is one random fact few people know about you?
I am very passionate to solve problems and love to find solutions for impossible questions. One time, a lecturer from my university discussed a problem he was having. The lecturer wanted to create cloud spaces that could only be accessed by a group of four. For years, he was doing it manually and it took his team about two weeks, I gave it a thought and created a Power Shell script to do this automatically under 5 minutes, and I added a functionality to link them to Microsoft Teams too. This script is still being used today, and I get a thank you email every time it’s used.
Also, I absolutely love camping, and I have a cat called “Mickey” and a dog called “Trace”.