Successful story: Moldovan teenager’s dream comes true in the US
A study abroad year may change your life. This is also the case of Den Delimarsky, 21, who spent one year in the United States of America as an exchange student. Coming from the impoverished former Soviet Republic of Moldova, Den lived his American dream studying at a high school in Independence, Kansas during 2008 – 2009. He benefited from a US State Department scholarship offered through FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange Program). He returned home and continued his education at the Moldovan high school where he was previously studying.
Joining the Microsoft team
Den decided to go back to the USA to continue his studies by enrolling at a college BA program in the same town which hosted him the first time. There are many Moldovan students who study in the US, but what is special in Den’s case is that he isn’t only a regular student. He is a member of the Microsoft Student Insider program that provides incentives for students who build programs using Microsoft tools. In other words he is part of the Microsoft team.
“I work on mobile software – those applications that you use on your Smartphone, specifically targeting Windows Phone. I strongly believe that’s where the next big thing is going to happen, if it is not already happening,” Den Delimarsky said.
The student does a lot of programming work. He has been fond of (intrigued with) computers since he was 7.
“My parents showed me that I can make a computer do things I want, as long as I know how to “tell it” my commands correctly. I was really excited about that, so I started coding. That was also the age when I, for some reason, decided to focus on Microsoft technology,” continued the 21-year-old man.
Hard work is the key to success
He armed himself with specialized books and started to study on his own on a regular basis. That’s how he developed his skills.
“Pretty much I was automatically driven to learn more, looking up solutions online. If I didn’t know how to tackle a specific task, I would go to an online programmer’s board, ask the question and wait for an answer,” explains Den, referring to his learning strategy.
“I remember the excitement when I built my first Notepad-like application, then my first website. I went so far as to attempt to build my first operating system that would look just like Windows,” says the student.
Den Delimarsky has seldom asked for someone’s help. He always tries to find the answers himself. This approach to work helped him to learn more by experiencing various types of difficulties.
“I am a firm believer that you should try and poke around on your own before you ask for help,” he adds.
Den finds that many of the computer courses taught in Moldovan colleges are not challenging enough, because they don’t teach anything more than the fundamentals. Instead he suggests that one should study on one's own in order to achieve more rapid progress in this regard. Nonetheless, Den believes that having a college education can be beneficial because there would always be a mentor to help you out.
“Study on your own, try to build projects that interest you and you will learn more along the way than you would in the classroom,” recommends Delimarsky.
He started by sharing his knowledge with an online community – www.dreamincode.net where he was the administrator. From here came the recommendation to join the Microsoft team. The owner of the website was in touch with one of the student program managers from the company and wanted to get him into the Microsoft Student Insiders program for a while. He was invited at the interview in August 2010 when he returned to the US for college. His interview was successful and he became a member of the giant team of Microsoft.
Here he is currently focusing on Microsoft’s mobile software and writes for some specialized websites.
“My focus is Windows Phone, Microsoft’s stake on the mobile platform. I also write for one of the Microsoft’s tech outlets – Channel9 Coding4Fun http://coding4fun.com. That’s where all the “Wow!” stuff is going on,” explains the student.
He continues: “You can see from its name that there is fun involved, and that fun usually involves some mind-blowing technology.”
A dream that came true
Den Delimarsky finds himself fortunate to be able to learn from a team of professionals. He has always dreamed of doing things like this on an international level.
“I am able to get to know the company better. I get to communicate with a lot of Microsoft employees who I became good friends with. I also get to meet amazing fellow students that are as passionate about Microsoft technology as I am,” says Den.
Being part of Microsoft Student Insider program, Den has the opportunity to travel within the United States for work-related conferences and training sessions. He has travelled many times to Seattle to participate in such workshops.
“Most of those trips are to various events that are happening on the Microsoft campus in Redmond and Bellevue. For example, this year I traveled there for the worldwide Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals summit, where I met with professional developers from various parts of the globe,” the Moldovan student says.
“I attend various technical conferences and events where I can find various networking opportunities with industry professionals I wouldn’t otherwise meet,” says the student, who is currently attending the Independence Community College in Kansas. He got accepted and will be transferring as of this summer to Wichita State University.
According to Den, both his family and American host family have been really supportive at all times. He is grateful for all the attention, encouragement and support he has been given in order to follow his dream.
Den is not going to stop at this stage. Soon he will start working on a research project which “could potentially have a pretty significant impact on what this group of people does now.” His project is going to deal with the natural user interface (NUI) interactions.
“That’s one area that is currently really under the radar, for some reason, but has a lot of potential and implementation variations,” explains the student, who is also going to write a book in the field. It is going to be about Windows Phone or Windows 8 development. He says he is open to both topics but it’s up to the publisher on which topic he should concentrate.
Den Delimarsky is quite sure about what kind of career he wants to have.
“I want to work for Microsoft. That is my ultimate goal and I can also classify it as my “childhood dream”. I will give myself some major cookie points if I manage to accomplish this, being my main goal,” concludes the 21-year-old student.