Valentin, President of Prologin: “Sharing my passion”
In addition to his engineering studies at EPITA, Valentin Seux (class of 2022) runs Prologin, a student association at the school that introduces young people to IT. This association provides students with the opportunity to learn and cultivate their passion for computer science, as well as introduce young people to this field, who would have never imagined building a career in the sector.
Valentin at a ‘Girls Can Code!’ workshop organized by Prologin
How did you discover computer science?
Valentin Seux: I have always been extremely interested in this subject. I have enjoyed playing video games since I was young, and my father also works in the computer industry. I naturally wanted to study computer science as it is a field that I’m quite familiar with. Through an apprenticeship, I can gain experience, apply my knowledge and discover more about the different fields, before choosing the one I want to specialize in. Right now, I’m very interested in infrastructure, but I also like application development.
You are studying engineering through apprenticeship. What does this training method offer you?
I have a rather unique academic background. I began the preparatory cycle in the English-speaking section. Although I was interested, it didn’t suit me as I needed something more concrete. Therefore, thanks to the apprenticeship, I was able to directly apply my knowledge, just like at Prologin. I recommend the apprenticeship option to those who are not necessarily comfortable in the traditional school system and wish to have more professional experience, earlier. In France, it has long been said that apprentices are not good students. However, this is not the case, quite the contrary. Companies tend to recruit apprentices more readily, especially when they have already worked with them. This is a guarantee!
When did your adventure in the Prologin association start?
I joined Prologin because I had a lot of friends there. I wanted to improve my computer skills and become involved in concrete projects. The projects are really quite interesting and carried out by very motivated volunteers. For the past 30 years, the main activity has consisted in organizing a national computer contest, the Prologin contest. It is open to all young people under 21 and brings them together around common passions: algorithms and programming. For the participants, it is an opportunity to meet other young people who are also interested in computer science, and speak with individuals from other backgrounds, such as students or professionals.
You also organize the Girls Can Code! (GCC) workshops
for young girls, from middle school to high school. What do they consist of?
Since 2014, the association has been organizing these workshops. Thanks to a prize we won at the Google RISE Awards, we were able to update some of our infrastructures and develop these modules. The idea behind these workshops stems from the fact that there is a real gender gap in the IT and digital sectors. In the beginning, we offered one-week discovery courses and now, we also provide shorter weekend workshops.
What has this commitment brought you?
First of all, I have made a great deal of progress in computer science, from a technical point of view. And, from an educational point of view, I’ve learned how to transmit this passion to younger individuals. I really like this educational dimension. Being a member of the association allows me to speak with a wide range of individuals, such as partners, and work on other areas, like communication, organization and logistics, with rather strict constraints, as we welcome young students. Even if it requires a lot of work and investment, it is very gratifying to see that we can change the lives of certain participants by showing them new career paths that they had not previously thought of. Especially girls, who, during the GCC courses, discover that computer science can be a great opportunity for them and that they have a major role to play in this field!
What does EPITA bring you?
Prologin is a student association, mainly composed of students from the school, or from other schools such as the ENS and Alumni. EPITA makes its premises available to us in Paris and on the regional campuses for our offices and the events that we organize. It is very complicated to find schools or universities that lend out their computer rooms. The school helps us from a logistical point of view, as well as in pursuing our associative commitment alongside our studies.
Article originally published in IONIS Mag #49