“Being a full stack developer means having to adapt to unknown and challenging situations”
If there are two things that sum up the professional career of Mélanie Godard (EPITA class of 2015), it is her passion for code and her interest in the world of startups. This Alumnus and GISTRE Major tells us about her daily life as a full stack developer at Doctolib, the essential French “unicorn” for scheduling medical appointments.
How did you start working at Doctolib?
Mélanie Godard: After EPITA, I began working as a Back-End developer at Thank You Motion, a startup that offers an app, which allows you to share online video clips on your social networks. Then, as I wanted to be part of a bigger startup and take on new missions, I joined Doctolib in 2017 as a full-stack developer. Since my arrival, I have worked with several teams, aiming at making the site more user-friendly. I am involved in diverse projects, such as improving appointment scheduling, document sharing, search features, etc.
What exactly is a full stack developer?
It is someone who is capable of working on the entire development chain. You have to be able to design a new feature, code it in any language, put it online and then monitor it to ensure that it works properly over time and resolve any detected bugs. At Doctolib, we work in collaboration with others. We are in contact with a Product Owner who defines the projects to be developed, a designer who designs the functionality, a Data Analyst who then analyzes the use of the developed functionality to ensure that it works properly and, of course, other developers. In the company, each development team consists of 3 to 5 people, and each mission is broken down into small projects that usually last 1 to 2 weeks. For each project, I code the new features together with the team, then check that everything works well and monitor the code over time. Thanks to my experience, I now welcome newcomers to help them integrate into their new environment.
What skills are required for this position?
First of all, you must be willing to learn! Being a full stack developer means having to adapt to unknown situations… and being both passionate and patient! Indeed, the developed code does not always automatically work on the first try and you have to be persistent to reach your goal. As I’ve already mentioned, you need to know how to work in a team. At Doctolib, this is crucial because the organization of missions is based on collaboration and not individual work. This also requires humility and listening to more experienced collaborators.
What is a typical day like?
It’s a job that I really enjoy. As a full-stack developer, you are regularly confronted with highly interesting technical challenges, which allows you to continuously learn and make progress – I never get tired of examining the IT-related reasons for a bug or a challenging situation, for example. I also enjoy being able to interact with other people on the team: you never feel isolated, and you know that you can always help one another by sharing your technical and human knowledge!
Why did you choose the GISTRE (Computer Engineering, Real-Time and Embedded Systems) major at EPITA?
At the time, I thought I would be working in robotics and the Internet of Things! My end-of-studies internship was in the connected objects sector. However, afterwards I wanted to try out web development and startups… And ended up staying there! Despite changing fields, I would definitely choose this Major again, because GISTRE taught me to always try to understand what is happening in the background of a website, to observe what is not visible, to analyze the functioning of computers, etc. Although sometimes a
bstract, this requires you not only to persevere and be meticulous, but also acquire extremely technical skills, which are still very useful to me today.
Finally, what was your experience as a student-assistant at EPITA?
It was very enriching on a human level. Thanks to this experience, I am able to mentor other Doctolib employees today. Indeed, at EPITA, students can become assistants during the 4th and 5th years in order to supervise a part of 3rd year students’ projects. You have to prepare the project topics, explain them to the students and then help them carry them out and evaluate them. We also supervise the one to three week seminars, such as the Piscine at the beginning of the 3rd year. Obviously, to really help a student, we first ask them to think about their code, then step back and solve their problems.
Being able to explain things also gives us a better understanding of the subjects themselves and allows us to feel more self-assured, thanks to presentations, projects, etc. It’s very instructive!