My name is Valériane, and when I was little I was a teddy bear. Life was carefree and mellow. Then one morning, like all teddy bears, I had to grow up and go to school. And it never was my thing. The growing bear was not getting on with the learning methods offered by school.
From school to swimming pool
I loved to learn, but not the way we had to do it. I had to find a way to escape the five boring days a week I was spending behind closed walls. No surprise that at 16 years old I was selling croissants in a bakery three days a week. I had found my way to diminish interactions with school while still learning, in a more tangible way this time. I kept on that path for a while, until a morning, a little before my twenties. That day, I had my first really life changing phone call.
I picked up the phone and on the other side, it was my super excited best friend. OMG. He was selected to try to be a part of the very first promotion of a new coding school in Paris... without teachers or classes you have to attend. He is moving there and I just need to send him my rental documents if I want to join the Parisian adventure.
Wow. I didn’t catch a word of what he said about code but I took good notice of the "no teachers - no learning schedule" story. And anyway, living with my best friend in a city that I love? Count me in! That’s how I left my job in a restaurant and moved to our crazy colocation a few weeks later.
To get into that school, my friend needed to pass a test that is called Piscine, which literally means swimming pool in French - an intensive course where we sink or swim. During that intensive month, he came back home every night, tired as a kid - or a baby bear - after a day at the beach. But he would always grab his laptop, open his console and demo for us what he had learnt during the day. I just was fascinated. I didn’t understand how I found myself listening to his memory allocations, loops and arrays stories but I was dreaming about variables and executables each night.
The school of my friend, 42 - yes that's its name - is a hundred percent dedicated to code. There are no teachers at all and it’s basically open 24/7/365. In this school, you have projects with technical requirements and restrictions. You don’t know how to do it? Ask the person to the left. They don’t know? Ask to your right! No more mandatory learning method, everyone has to invent their own.
So I tried to get into that new adventure. I jumped in the pool and had the most intense and fun learning experience of my life during the piscine. Sure we sweat blood and water with my drowning partners but, oh joy, we did get in! This is basically how I started to really enjoy learning. At that time I also became familiar with the concept of lifelong learning, with the school having a retraining program for fifty years and over.
We were a great bunch, made up of my best friend and the buddies we made over a screen or coffee. One of them once told me about a school for future start-up employees.
The Family, a start-up accelerator had just launched a training course for future startupers profiles and even offered a track for developers. By joining this course I had the opportunity to be trained by start-up CTOs on different issues encountered in their career and I developed a real love for this ecosystem so prone to share its experience and push the limits of creativity.
I had found a place in an incredibly inclusive and vibrant tech community and a life project. The story could have ended there in something like they lived happily and had many children, but it wasn’t life’s plan.
The second phone call that turned my life upside down, I received it one day when I got home. This time, on the other side of the receiver, a police inspector. Have I heard from my best friend since last night?Hearing those words, I knew instantly that my life was going to change forever. After this, everything became difficult. I was completely lost, questioning everything. Did I really like computers and code, or was it just our way of life?
Going to school was getting difficult. At some point, I even took a break from school and went to work in humanitarian aid. I knew I wanted human contact, but very quickly I felt a need, something was missing.
The big bet
So I decided to gamble everything on a new training. I was going to bet myself that I had found my way. I spent all of my student savings on a Ruby on Rails bootcamp, Le Wagon.
No longer having a penny in my pocket, I left Paris to do my training in Lille, where I come from. At Le Wagon, I was fortunate to have excellent teachers, passionate about code and entrepreneurship. They gave us their passion and their knowledge, as much in coding as in the industry and the market.
One of these teachers, Yann, told me about a personal experience that I had never heard of before. He had been a Developer Advocate for an IT firm. Not knowing the field at all, I asked him for an explanation and he described a job where the primary goal was communication with the tech community, help and sharing of knowledge and know-how. The perfect mix between technicality, code and human to my eyes!
The discovery of this field of expertise gave me a concrete goal towards which to go and it was on the way to this new destination that I returned to the capital and city of my heart, Paris.
I was more motivated than ever and after a little detour through the great valley of French paperwork and a big inspiration to give me courage I started as a freelancer. I was immediately drawn into the Parisian start-ups ecosystem that I had already had the opportunity to work with, thanks to The Family.
First a fullstack developer, I quickly had the opportunity to manage projects and teams on projects mainly in ruby and python, which are still my languages of choice. In my free time, I started going to all kinds of meetups that focused on the languages and communities I liked. As a participant, then as a speaker sometimes.
The school's way of working as a group has taught me that everyone can teach something to someone and these talks were a great opportunity for me to give back to the tech community all it brings me everyday.
Here is the flyer of the very first meetup I spoke at
It was during a meetup at Le Wagon Paris soberly entitled "WTF is DevRel?" that the next twist in my story has happened. A tall American wearing a Stetson exchanged his card with me and told me to come and attend the meetup dedicated to the profession he is organizing, the DevRel Salon.
He taught me a lot about the profession and I met French and foreign DevRels in Paris during his lovely salons. A few months later I found myself ensuring the continuity of the meetup, my American friend having been given an opportunity abroad. I was feeling more comfortable with the community and my experience. I was now ready to try to find a job as a Developer Advocate.
It was Clever Cloud who gave me the chance to join them at the end of 2018 as Developer Advocate.
It was a real honor to work with such passionate and excellent people in their field and an excellent opportunity to meet the community of French developers and not just Parisians. With them, I also met a lot of French-speaking Ruby and Python developers, and got involved in these different communities by translating doc and helping to organize local events.
It was a long road, sometimes difficult, but our beautiful community has always supported me - which allowed me to find my way - and today, in October 2020, I am happy to join the team of Developers Evangelist at Twilio.
I’m super excited to be there, for all Twilio’s community but with a focus on my French local one. Sharing and empowering all developers, as I’m planning to treat you with all different kinds of ways to build with Twilio, whether, like me, you liked school or not!
I can't wait to see what we can build together!