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How we started our careers in tech 

Posted by Criteo |

How inspiring it was to talk about career development in tech, inclusion issues, and so much more with Céline, Camille, and Célia - our three apprentices from Ada Tech School! Coming from an atypical background - former journalist, student of musicology, graduate of international commerce – they all chose to reinvent themselves as software developers. How come? The whole story below! 

Can you tell us a bit about you and how you came across Ada Tech School? 

Célia: I studied musicology before turning to software development, so for my training, I was looking for a place that valued atypical profiles such as mine. And I heard about Ada Tech School in a podcast. Their progressive and untraditional learning approach kind of raised my curiosity, and I decided to apply.  

Céline: That is funny! I also heard about Ada Tech School for the first time in a feminist podcast. I was a journalist on the edge of switching careers, and their educational approach and will to create a more inclusive tech industry caught my attention. I got accepted and did the school's 9-month training, followed by a 1-year apprenticeship here at Criteo.  

Camille: After graduating from a master's degree in international commerce during the pandemic, I had a hard time finding work, so I started to dive a bit deeper into coding. I completed a few courses on my own and I truly loved it. So, I decided to take the leap! It was important for me to join a structure that values respect and promotes tolerance among students, all while offering expert training and professional experience. And as Ada Tech School matched each of these criteria, I just went for it!  

How is Ada Tech School's educative approach different?  

Céline: It is based on Montessori's principles, so we don't have grades or exams, or even teachers for that matter... Our teachers are field professionals. Basically, you start with a two-week course where we learn the basics, followed by two weeks of sprint where we carry out a group project. At the end, we share your results with the rest of the class, explaining what you did, what you found, where you struggled, etc. You can come across a large variety of profiles, but we are women transitioning careers for the most part.   

Camille: When I first joined, I was wondering a bit if the inclusive speech was real or not... And I gladly discovered that it was! I never felt that comfortable in another academy. It was nice to join an environment respectful of everyone. It may sound a bit cheesy but, unfortunately, such places are not that easy to find.

What brought you to consider a career in tech? Do you like it so far? 

Célia: I read a lot about coding before I did it for real with Ada Tech School. What I like the most is that it is challenging and playful at the same time. 

Céline: I completed my studies in journalism with a thesis on AI and sexuality. New technologies-related issues already interested me back then. I think what made me leap was the school's approach, the perspective to work in a field with more job opportunities, and the idea to start fresh without having to enroll in long-term studies again. I've always been interested in the use of new technologies to share information. Perhaps, one day, I will find a way to combine both journalism and software development!

Camille: I like to see the impact of my work right away. To know how it affects or helps others, and that is how I feel since working in coding. When you touch something, you see the consequences right away. It is real and it helps you grow and feel more responsible.  

Why choose Criteo for your apprenticeship? What did you like the most here?  

Célia: I was interested in Criteo for the caring company side and its reputation as a field expert in tech. The technologies used seemed challenging, and I thought I'd learn a lot there.  

Céline: As a partner of Ada Tech School, Criteo was there on an Open Day, and I dropped by their booth. They told me my profile interested them, so applied. I wanted a company where I could learn in a supportive and healthy work environment, so Criteo seemed like a fair choice. 

Camille: I liked that our work was useful to the company for real. I heard fellow apprentices in other companies saying that the team had created a whole different project for them. I like that Criteo made us contribute to the global picture. It was quite rewarding.  

And did you have a good time here? How would you describe your experience? 

Célia: It was an enriching one for sure. The company genuinely cares about its employees, and I had a lovely time with the team. I met some great people whose teamwork and spirit inspired me. 

Céline: It was intense! There are many field experts at Criteo, most of them coming from a traditional engineering background. It was challenging for all of us, as they are not used to people coming from a different technical background. The level was very high, so it was challenging but I learned a lot.  

Camille: Moving from the academic world to the professional sphere always brings a bit of a reality check, like "Okay, this is how it's done..." What was hard at first was the change in data volume compared to what we worked on at school. The onboarding from my team was very useful and we had one afternoon a week dedicated to learning and developing new skills. It allowed me to train myself in new coding languages.   

What was the main challenge you faced? 

Célia: I didn't dare to speak up and say when I was blocked, which impacted how I organized my tasks.  

Céline: The whole switching careers thing has been a daily challenge, to be honest. For me, it is learning to be a developer every day - when I must share my results clearly with technical vocabulary, for instance. 

Camille: I had never worked on such a large scale, which gave me the feeling of starting from scratch. I experienced a kind of Impostor Syndrome at first. I talked to the team about it, and they really tried to help me overcome it.  

Could you share one memory or key learning you will keep with you?   

Célia: One valuable thing I learned here is that good organization and the ability to see your achievements, even the little ones, can make a huge difference in keeping your motivation to move forward.  

Céline: The work atmosphere at Criteo! Even though I was an apprentice, I felt entrusted with my responsibilities. And of course, I'll miss having my morning coffee on our amazing rooftop; THE best spot in the city! 

Camille: Oh yeah, this rooftop is the very first thing I was shown on my first day. It’s really something here!  

Any advice for current mentors and future apprentices to come?  

Célia: One thing to bear in mind is that doubt is okay and is also part of any learning process. It is essential to provide adequate support and to be surrounded by people who are able to motivate you.  

Céline: I'd advise people wondering about the many trainings you can now find to favor those where you'll learn by doing. Go for schools that offer apprenticeships, for instance.  

Camille: Honestly, some days can feel pretty hard, and the learning curve can be frustrating sometimes. Every company has its own language and way of doing things, and Criteo is no exception. It takes some getting used to, so don't be afraid to ask questions. I know I feared to bother others with questions, but in the end, it is the key to ramping up faster. 

The Future is Yours.

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