Picture: Franck Alix
Thomas, web developer alumni of the September 2021 session in Toulouse, looks back on his career path and his professional training as a web developer in Tech for Good!
From environmental protection and marketing to web development
Hi, Thomas! Can you introduce yourself to us in a few words?
Hello, there! I'm Thomas Biarneix. I often find introducing myself difficult, but if I had to boil it down, I would describe myself as a Cartesian epicurean. I’ll let you interpret that how you wish.
One thing is for sure, I like to enjoy life, friends, and family—even if spending a few hours in front of my computer playing video games doesn’t frighten me. I also enjoy spending time in the great outdoors and marveling at the little things that surround me, spending hours watching sports, and hanging out in concert halls taking pictures.
One of my main character traits would indeed be "passionate.” Whenever I'm interested in a topic, I feel the need to go all out. And unfortunately for my sleep, I'm passionate about many topics.
Still, after a while, you manage to find the balance, and it's all these little things that make me who I am today.
What was your background before joining Wild Code School, and what made you want to enter web development?
Coming from an atypical background, like many people in professional retraining, I studied environmental protection before moving into digital marketing.
Ten years ago, I was already learning a new job: that of community manager. This title had more or less just become common. After eight years spent in local authorities (City of Toulouse, Department of Haute-Garonne), I launched myself two years ago (2020) as a freelance digital communication consultant and image creator.
Launching a business at the dawn of a global health crisis was not the easiest way to make it last.
I had developed two very important components:
- Digital communication to help artisans and small businesses develop their brand image on the web
- A whole component of photo and video production for these same targets—but also for individuals with an artistic bias that reaches beyond brief trends on Instagram
The beginning was promising. It led me to consider adopting this lifestyle, even if the successive waves of confinements perturbed things.
I actually did best with the first part of my business. The need for artisans, shops, or small businesses to get up to speed with evolving digital technology led me to mobilize my marketing skills. In particular, I created several showcase websites with WordPress.
This is what triggered my thoughts about a new career. I had to face tech challenges that I had never encountered before. I discovered and came to enjoy my very first dabblings with web content through HTML and CSS. This little seed sprouted, and that’s when I chose the professional retraining.
Do you have any highlights to share with us from when you joined Wild Code School Toulouse in September 2021? What did you gain from it?
There’s been so much. First off, the human adventure: diving back into intensive studies for five months while meeting new people was very empowering. I was lucky to land in a truly great class. We all got along despite the differences in character. We supported each other, and that was priceless. I always thought we got further together than by putting people in competition. These five months were a perfect illustration of this.
Then, obviously, all the highlights of the training remain in my memory. Whether they were positive or negative, you always grow from them. This is one of the great strengths of this training. Three client projects (the last one with a real client), two hackathons and one game jam (a kind of hackathon but where the objective is to make a small video game), a few hours of sleep and many lines of code.
Tech for Good and its challenges
In your opinion, what does “Tech for Good” represent, and what challenges does it face?
For me, Tech for Good is about using technological advances to support and accelerate society's transition toward a fairer and more sustainable social and environmental model.
While that might sound a bit hollow, I believe the world will not achieve this without this technological aspect. I'm not a transhumanist. I don't believe that technology will save us if we continue to move forward without changing our habits—just as I don't believe that we shouldn't ask questions about our individual and collective consumption patterns.
But precisely, for people like me who see the world in this light, being able to try to weigh and use all these capacities in the service of a better society is a major issue.
That said, I'm under no illusion. Many digital actors are trying to use this “Tech for Good” movement just to greenwash. At the same time, if I can take advantage of this opportunity and propose solutions that have a real impact, I want to be part of it.
The life of a front-end developer: missions, role, daily life...
You’re currently working as a front-end developer at Voltyo. Can you tell us a little more about your company’s values and culture?
Voltyo is a startup that offers energy management assistance for professional buildings.
The goal is to allow companies with large or multiple buildings to understand how they consume the energy resources they use (water, gas, electricity) in order to reduce their consumption.
The two levers of impact are the preservation of energy resources and the reduction of consumption costs.
The objective is to help these companies better understand which items consume the most energy and where energy problems/drift can come from. This will help them prioritize possible adjustments and achieve solutions.
For Voltyo, these are not the issues of tomorrow, but of today! That's why we do everything we can to ensure that our analyses evolve and that we continue to refine our expertise.
Thus, the core expertise and missions we carry out with Voltyo are totally in line with the Tech for Good dynamic. We know that it's the multitude of small things that make a big whole. The more companies we can support, the more we can contribute to the challenges we face.
What are your daily missions as a front-end Developer?
This is the part I like best.
As a developer (just a start-up, really!), I’m working hard to improve the analysis tool we offer to our customers. To be as accurate as possible, we need a lot of data. This data is passed through our in-house “mill,” (which I can’t say much more about since that’s private) and we give it back in the form of a dashboard.
I play several roles in this:
First, there’s the UI/UX approach. I'm not a UX designer, but I think I have a good vision as a novice. So, I’ll try to make these dashboards as easy to read as possible. I'm not going to go into too much technical detail, but I have daily development goals on features or parts of features that will improve or modernize our tool.
Secondly—and these are issues I’m involved in daily—I try to think about writing the cleanest code possible. We can't get involved in reducing energy consumption without thinking about the impact of our tools. We know that technology is very greedy in this area, and many developers have never really thought about the impact of the way they write their code. Ecodesign is a subject I'm trying to learn about on the side so I can then apply it to the way I code.
One final thing: I also try to keep up to date with accessibility in the code I write. We forget too often that people with disabilities also use the web on a daily basis, and the efforts to do things correctly in this regard seem very small if we can improve others’ lives.
These last two points are not wishful thinking. Even if I'm still a novice and these issues are sometimes complex to grasp, I try my best to include them as much as I can in my daily life as a developer.
Do you plan to continue working for Tech for Good in your career?
This goes without saying.
One of the things I said to myself when I decided to make the switch was that I wasn't doing this to work for just any company. At least, to try to find one that’s in line with my values.
I also know that the job market’s more complicated for those starting out, so I might be playing a bit of a balancing act until the job market has more to offer me. Clearly, though, this is part of my professional priorities.
Do you have any plans for the future? If so, would you like to share them with us?
Projects, yes, I have lots of those.
Maybe the best thing would be to start a tech-for-good company myself, but I also know what it costs in time and grey hairs. And then, for an idea to turn into a real business project, a certain number of factors must line up. So, for the next few years, I'm going to do my homework, and then we'll see.
Thank you for all your answers! Do you have any last words for those who are reading today and who might hesitate with professional retraining?
I suppose the most complicated aspect is being able to foresee the financial balance after the training period, depending on the aid that you can receive. Well, Wild Code School guides you very well in that aspect—even before becoming a student. Aside from that, you mustn’t ask yourself too many questions, but just dive in. It's a real opportunity, and above all, it's within everyone's reach!
To find out more...
Take a glimpse at Thomas Biarneix’s website to admire his work!
And for those who love our students’ and alumni’s success stories, discover front-end developer Leonore’s testimony: