Apply now

Xavier, from Systems Engineer to Research Engineer (AI), at Facebook

Xavier worked as an engineer in the industrial sector before changing his career into tech. In 2017, he enrolled at Le Wagon Paris with the aim of developing his skills in Web Development. Only 7 months after the training, he landed the position of Research Engineer at Facebook. Learn all about his journey.

 Xavier, from Systems Engineer to Research Engineer (AI), at Facebook
Featuring graduate Xavier Martinet Research Engineer (AI) in Facebook More about Xavier
Share article
Xavier worked as an engineer in the industrial sector before changing his career into tech. In 2017, he enrolled at Le Wagon Paris with the aim of developing his skills in Web Development. Only 7 months after the training, he landed the position of Research Engineer at Facebook. Learn all about his journey.

After studying at Polytechnique, Xavier first worked in the industrial sector and then in different startups as a Product Manager. In 2017, he decided to change his career, he joined Le Wagon to learn to code, and since he’s become a Research Engineer at the Facebook artificial intelligence laboratory.

What were you doing before joining the Le Wagon bootcamp?

I completed a  French engineering school when I was looking to explore different professional possibilities, I have realised that the trend was to study market finance or advice. The eccentrics who insisted on being engineers went to the nuclear or automobile industries. IT did not have the aura it has today, it was seen as a "geek" activity which was then a derogatory term. Very pleased to see that times have changed.

I realised learning to code is important for two reasons: having the ability to bootstrap your product without (too much) outside help, being able to understand what developers are doing, speaking their language and being able to communicate.
Coding
I started as an engineer in a French industrial conglomerate because I wanted to build things that make sense, the automation of metro line 13 in this case. But I didn’t enjoy it that much, so I quit my job. After that I worked in a Web Startup to begin with, then as a Product Manager in another company specialising in robotics, but I always had the feeling that I wanted to move away from the purely technical side of things. At the end of these experiences, in order to consolidate my "business" experience, I went to a large management consulting firm. It was an exciting experience, but very demanding on a personal level.

Why did you decide to learn to code when you were a consultant?

Like many former consultants, I told myself that I could put into practice the working methods and the business understanding acquired previously to start my own business. With the advice of my friend, I finally realise the positive impact learning how to code could have: I would have the ability to bootstrap a product without (too much) outside help, I would be able to understand what developers are doing, share their language and make themselves understood. 

What is your current role?

I'm a Research Engineer at FAIR, Facebook's artificial intelligence laboratory. To put it simply, there are two types of profiles at FAIR (with overlaps between roles): Scientists, working on their thesis, whose objective is to develop a particular vision on their favourite themes and to propose it, by proposing papers and experiments and the engineers, who implement the experiments and make the code robust to share it as an open-source to the community.

It was during the bootcamp that I realized that I liked the code for the code.

I am an engineer, my job is to fully understand the experiences, suggest improvements if necessary, do everything to make them work and make right an excellent quality code.


Did you expect to become a developer when you started training?

Not at all! As I said, originally I came up with the idea of ​​starting my own business. It was during the bootcamp that I realized that I liked the code for the code. Unused areas of my brain started to flicker on the MRI, and I rediscovered the pleasure of creating with my hands. I suppose that even if the tools are different, it is the same pleasure that a carpenter or a cook must experience.

Within Facebook, the mission of FAIR is very specific: it is really about advancing science, everything is open and accessible, its a private laboratory with a concentration of talents with which only Google can compete.

On the other hand, it became obvious to me that there was currently a tension on the market for these positions of software engineers. I saw an opportunity there; after all, why not combine business with pleasure?

What attracted you to Facebook?

The scale and means of a company like Facebook is something that you wouldn't see with many other companies in the world. Within Facebook, the mission of FAIR is very specific: it is really about advancing science, everything is open and accessible, it’s a private laboratory with a concentration of talents and means with which only Google can compete. As French people, we are very well off because it turns out that these world-class laboratories are very well established in Paris! On the other hand, during the interviews, I appreciated the relaxed and sympathetic atmosphere, without any form of arrogance. It's just a place where you feel good.

Do I know why Facebook was attracted to my profile? Oh god, who knows? I was obviously well prepared for the interviews, to make sure I’d done all I could in order to get the job; to have all the chances on my side. I also received other offers (from Google for example, in Zurich), my efforts and investment have paid off, and luck was on my side.
Facebook AI Search Conference
The impostor syndrome is never far away, it's up to me to keep fighting to prove that they were right to choose me.

If you compare your current job to your previous one, which one creates the most fulfilment? 

Is the answer not obvious? I often joke that I "came out geek"; it always feels good to break free. 

Want to know more about Le Wagon's bootcamps?
Keep reading
Graduate stories

Ting Zhang, on the growing role of women in the tech space

Ting, a furious learner and someone filled with passion and curiosity, is our main character in today's story.

Graduate stories

Infographic: the outcomes of our coding bootcamp in Tokyo

We celebrated our third anniversary a few months ago, and we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to run a survey among all our graduates since 2017. Discover their backgrounds, what they achieved through the bootcamp, what they are learning now, and what to consider before a jump into tech!

Graduate stories

Stefan, Tank Commander turned into CTO

How to transit from a tank commander in the military into tech? After graduating from Le Wagon, Stefan founded a startup with a fellow batchmate and built its product from scratch with Python and VueJS.

Are you ready to learn coding?

We are in 39 cities worldwide.