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Instructor Sorin Dumitrascu thrives in challenging economy

Instructor Sorin Dumitrascu welcomes Udemy senior product manager Octav Druta during a visit to Romania

Sorin Dumitrascu’s town in southern Romanian, Câmpulung Muscel, used to be home to a bustling auto manufacturing plant, but when the country rejected communism, things changed. The cars produced there simply weren’t good enough to compete in the international market, and the factory closed in the 90s.

Although he’s lived and worked around the world, Sorin is back in his Romanian hometown now and, despite the bleak job market, he’s thriving as a full-time Udemy instructor. Currently offering 35 courses, he’s amassed a following of more than 17,000 students globally who are learning from him about management, project management, computer literacy, human resources, career development, and more.

Sorin’s career journey, however, began as a police officer and then in the Romanian prison system. At the time, working for the state seemed like a reliable source of employment as the country transitioned to a new form of government. Like many of his peers, Sorin assumed he’d be set for life if he was “a good professional.” Today, however, most of his former colleagues are “just trying to survive [by working] in institutions” and haven’t even advanced to management.

Sorin has soaked up knowledge from various experiences he’s had since graduating from university with an administrative law degree. He was one of only 200 students from Romania to receive a scholarship from the EU to earn his master’s in business management in the UK. He then returned to Romania and attended the National Institute of Administration.

He first found Udemy as a student in 2011 when he was looking for online courses about operational management and liked the experience. Later, when he started exploring other career options, he returned to Udemy.

“The obvious button for me was ‘Become an instructor,’” Sorin says. Since he was a trainer on a United Nations project in Haiti at the time, he thought, “I might be able to do this.”

At the beginning, Sorin’s goals for teaching on Udemy weren’t very defined and he wasn’t sure where the experience could take him, but he decided to go all-in and focus exclusively on Udemy for six months and see what happened. He made his first course on “Risk Management for Project Professionals,” offered up some free coupons, and was amazed to see people snatch them up in a matter of hours. Sorin got his first sale within a week, and the pace continued accelerating as more time passed.

Because Sorin had been a trainer in real life, he already knew what information he wanted to cover, but he did learn that teaching in person isn’t quite the same as teaching online. “I didn’t use a script at first and discovered it was impossible,” he recalls. He kept having to rerecord to fix mistakes. On the flip side, when he did have a script, he wasn’t speaking quickly enough. But after making two or three courses, Sorin got better equipment, found his delivery sweet spot, and hit his stride as an online instructor.

Today, teaching on Udemy is Sorin’s full-time vocation.

“Udemy opened my eyes to what’s possible online,” he says. “My success gave me assurance that I could try something else and it might work.”

Sorin has a full pipeline of courses he plans to build and is a total believer in the power of learning and teaching. He tries to evangelize this message to others in Romania too. “I’m trying to tell everyone: go online, you can find a job, you can earn a living,” he says. “I advise them to spend their money on developing their skills. Not knowing how to work with a computer is the new form of illiteracy.”

And Sorin lives what he preaches too. He’s currently studying coding, “my biggest handicap online.” His efforts as a student help him as an instructor in countless ways. “I make a habit of learning every day just to see how other people teach and to explore subjects I’m interested in.”

People in Romania don’t really understand yet what Sorin’s up to, spending his days at a laptop, but that doesn’t matter. Putting himself and his career on Udemy has changed Sorin’s life completely. “My life used to be hectic, and now I’m focused.”