Dimitri Lebel, from auto mechanic to Big Data R&D

Today, we’re starting a new section: portrait of a CodinGamer. The idea is to share with you the point of view of developers who’ve participated in our challenges, and have been able to find the work they were looking for, even from an unusual career path. We start with Dimitri Lebel.

CodinGame – Hi Dimitri, can you tell us about your background?

I’m 30, and live near Montpellier. In the beginning, I didn’t have any training in IT. I have a BTS [a vocational qualification] in Mechanical Engineering. I worked for five years in the auto industry, and in 2010, the company I was working for was hit by the economic crisis. There were layoffs and more than half of the staff was dismissed. I took this as an opportunity to make a new career: I trained as a software designer/developer at the AFPA [a vocational training system for adults]. I got my first job as a developer in 2011 for an editor of medical software.

CG – Why did you decide to participate in the CodinGame contests?

I heard of the CodinGame contests by word of mouth. I thought it was an interesting way to find work, guided by a challenge that can be fun. For me, it was a chance to try something new, and I loved the side challenge of programming.

CG – How do these challenges unfold, from the point of view of the developer?

The CodinGame concept is a coding contest that also helps you find work. I started by getting trained on the site, and I spent some time on the test pages to see what it was all about. Then I signed up. At the coding level, I didn’t really expect this kind of challenge -- it wasn’t obvious at first. Through the professional practice I have in programming, I am particularly specialized in interfaces, and in that area, I enjoyed thinking through different algorithms, which really took some thought.

CG – What did you like about this kind of recruitment?

After my retraining at AFPA, I sought employment by traditional methods. When I was sending out CVs, it took me a year to be recruited to my first job as a developer. Meanwhile, after just a single CodinGame, I’m all of a sudden put in touch with 3 companies that interested me. In a general way, the advantage of the contest is that you get a quick response from a company, whether positive or negative. What’s good about this is that the companies that we’re applying to already know what we’re capable of, based on our results and how we coded. I’m also finding that the job postings on the portal are clearer than traditional postings, particularly in what is expected at a technical level.

CG – How did the interaction with companies go?

Globally, I had first contact in less than 15 days. I had several telephone interviews and the conversations continued for two months. The contests gave me a better ‘hook’ for companies, and they left no ambiguity as far as my professional skills were concerned. One company still asked me to take a technical test, but for the others, the fact that I’d proven my bona fides on CoginGame was enough. In any case, for the job I have today, they didn’t make me re-take a technical interview, and my background was no obstacle.

CG – You chose to apply to Spotter: why?

Spotter was my first choice among the companies that I applied to. It’s a software company that I found thanks to the contests. The advantage of working for a software publisher is that you can be driving force in projects year-round. They are very R+D oriented, and they do forward-looking things in advanced media-analysis technology. My responsibilities involve several interesting technologies, including JEE, SEAM 3, Primefaces, and NoSQL.

CG – To wrap up, what do you like the most about your work?

I discovered programming when I was quite young. Until my formal training, I had a rather “DIY” and web-oriented approach, but I loved it. What I enjoy now, as a developer, is the imaginative and creative side to finding the best solution to a given problem.

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