“Former truck driver, I am now a web developer for the State”

Lucien Mollard

Table of Contents

Posted Jul 4, 2022, 7:00 AM

“Trucks and I have always been a great love story! I dreamed of driving one when I was younger. I created a website around trucks when I was fourteen while waiting to drive one. I learned to drive in high school when I wasn't even 16. After a BEP -driving and service in road transport- in 2008, I passed a BAC transport then a BTS -transports- in alternation to become manager of transport agency, but I very quickly understood that I did not want not work in offices at all. So I decided to become a truck driver.

I started my career as a truck driver in 2012 in Ile-de-London. I traveled the roads of London for almost four years, about 350,000 km. I liked it.

My job was remunerative. I was paid between 2,700 and 3,000 Pounds net per month depending on the route, but the days were too long. I was at 60 hours a week. I left on Monday and returned on Friday.

At 25, it was time to turn the page

The pace just didn't suit me. I had the click in 2016, at twenty-five years old. No family life, no loan to repay… it was now or never! I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. And then, the code came as evidence.

I already loved coding in my college years. But when I had to make a choice of orientation in third year, my teachers advised me against general second because I didn't have the level. They had convinced me that you had to be mathematician to become a web developer. As I was not very good in math, I quickly dropped the case.

But why not try today? I had good knowledge of HTML, a rather basic language; in Python, more advanced. And when you master an advanced language, it's usually easier to learn new ones. In the spring of 2016, my brother told me about Le Wagon, which offers a nine-week training course at 5,000 Pounds – when I signed up – to learn the fundamentals of coding. I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but it intrigued me! And since I got on well with my employer, I knew I could come back if I didn't like the training.

Beginnings as a developer not so easy

I started my training in October 2016. It took place face-to-face. Le Wagon sent me exercises to do to be well armed before the start of the training. Then, I learned the Ruby language during these nine weeks. It is a language close to Python. Obviously, it's not the equivalent of an engineering school, but I acquired the basics to train myself. I know where to document myself and get information to learn more.

At the end of the training, I managed to project myself into the profession. I looked for a CDI as a developer. It took me about a month or two to find a job. I got my first permanent contract in 2017 in a small web agency. In fact, I barely knew how to code. I learned on the job, especially since my first project required coding in Angular (Google framework language). I was able to improve on that, because I didn't master it very well. I stayed for five months from January to May 2017.

If I learned a lot during this CDI, I was however poorly paid. Former comrades from Le Wagon told me about freelance missions, which were more profitable, but I did not feel legitimate and competent. And then being a freelancer means a lot of responsibility. You have to manage the project alone, look for the missions…

Freelancer or not freelancer?

Since I was looking for a job, I registered on Malt, a platform for connecting companies and developers. I said to myself, you have nothing to lose… Only three days after my registration, I was offered a six-month mission. I hadn't even quit yet. I hesitated a lot but when I discovered that I was joining a team of three other developers on this mission, I changed my mind.

One of the difficulties when you are a freelancer, and which I dreaded, is to set my Average Daily Rate (ADR). Fortunately, my colleagues quickly briefed me. I had to ask three hundred Pounds per day minimum. I felt like I was making a lot of money compared to my old paycheck. Especially since auto-entrepreneurs are almost not taxed. But I quickly realized that was the norm.

28 hours a week, and much better paid than before!

Luckily again on the second mission, I worked in pairs with someone more experienced than me. Today, I work with a team of freelance web developers for beta.gouv.fr, the state digital services incubator. I like my work pace. I work 28 hours a week, in 4/5th. I work from home (in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés in the 94) and in London, when I meet with my team to discuss the project.

Since 2021, I have been working for the Prime Minister's digital department. I am in charge of creating with other developers the interface of the portal intended for the bosses of VSEs and SMEs who need information but who do not know who to contact. We created the algorithm, based on a huge address book, which makes it possible to find the right interlocutor for each situation. It gives meaning to my job, I feel useful.

I don't feel like a developer running in a big box. And we work well in this small team, communication is fluid. Today, my job suits me. The missions are long and I know that if I want to change, I can find a new mission in twenty-four hours.

I admit that I miss my trucks a little, but not the 60-hour week!”.

Interview by Taslime Maazouzi

To note

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