It was in the atmosphere of the casinos that Sarah began her professional life. “I was hired as a croupier for a summer. After a few days, I had already fallen in love with the job,” she recalls. She started her History classes in September, and one weekend, assured a replacement in a casino. The test turned into a job offer. After a week, she quit university.
What is the daily life of a croupier like? Pragmatically, Sarah answers: “It’s a night job, generally from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., on weekends and holidays. At the casino, the rotations are frequent, “every twenty to forty minutes,” Sarah details. Most of the time, on two main games: English roulette and blackjack. She prefers the latter. “Even today, I love this game. You have to be very quick at dealing with the cards and count very quickly. The dealers have to be able to add up the numbers almost instantly,” she says.
Little by little, poker is coming to France. Sarah adds this to her bow. “The atmosphere around a poker table is much more relaxed and familial. It’s a little unsettling at first because we are instructed to keep a great distance from the clientele and even to exude a certain coldness,” says Sarah. It’s an aspect of the job that customers don’t see, but a casino is run like a military barracks: everything is regulated. We have to follow a lot of procedures. For example, we are not allowed to have pockets or sleeves that are too long. Sarah has developed tremendous professional rigor, an acute sense of customer service, a great sense of concentration, and natural resistance to fatigue. “We sometimes work twelve hours in a row, with very few breaks. Croupier is a demanding job at all levels,” she says.
After five years working in various casinos, Sarah started working independently on poker tournaments. “At the time, there were a lot of customers, but few dealers. There were about 40 of us in France, always the same ones, on all the tournaments”, she explains. She traveled a lot: Belgium, Spain, Germany, Morocco… “At the poker table, the dealer is alone, unlike other games where there are three of us, including a superior. I learned how to run a table to make sure the rules are respected. In poker, almost 98% of the players are men. I knew how to impose myself and adapt to each personality,” she recalls.
After almost ten years in business, Sarah had a personal project that forced her to change jobs: buying an apartment. “I was independent, and even if I earned a good living, my file was not accepted by the banks. I had to find a permanent job in a casino. That meant losing income, freedom and going back to working exclusively at night. I preferred to change jobs”, remembers Sarah.
Sarah decided to study computer development. At the time, she lived in Antibes, not far from Sophia Antipolis, also known as the French Silicon Valley, populated by developers. She decided: she will become one of them.
While she was finding out about the courses she could take, her age prevented her from enrolling in most of the training programs. At over 27 years old, she was not eligible for student social security and could not register. This was a blow for the young woman, who continued her research. “I had to fight to have my choice of career taken seriously,” she explains.
“I had only two choices: a short program in a business school or a computer engineering school in Sophia Antipolis. I opted for the second option, and there again, I was met with reluctance. I had only a high school degree. I argued, asked for interviews, and eventually got my way. Finally, I was able to start training,” she says, before adding: “Young people need to be informed: going back to school after 27 years old can be complex.”
The hard times are not over. To finance her training, Sarah must be able to benefit from a work-study program. Without a contract with a company, she could not begin her training. “At 27, any company that accepted me as a student on a work-study program was legally obliged to pay me the minimum wage. That was the first obstacle, but there was a second, and a big one: I didn’t know how to program at all,” she smiles.
Out of 150 CVs she sent, Sarah received only three replies: one negative, one “very vague,” but mostly a yes. “It was a small SME whose boss had worked for twenty years in the United States. He had kept the American mentality: for him, motivation won over skills,” she recalls. She was taken on trial for three months. At the end of this period, she could apply for a one-year work-study program. At the same time, she received an offer from a casino. “I gave up a 30,000 euro contract for a work-study program that was not certain. This is real motivation!”, she jokes.
The test was conclusive, and Sarah’s career transition was finally launched! At the age of 30, she graduated top of her class, then continued, as she had planned, with a Master’s degree in software development. “The more I evolved in IT, the more I became interested in security. In development, you learn to build, but not to protect or defend. That appealed to me, and I wanted to learn,” she explains.
At the age of 32, she joined Orange Cyberdefense on a two-year work-study program. She evaluated security flaws in the source code of customer programs during the first year. “To do this, we are helped by a software program. It provides a 200-page analysis that is practically unreadable to the non-expert eye. To make it accessible to our customers, we had to optimize this report. I was commissioned to create a software program that could,” she says. She then suggested to clients ways to correct the code and make it safe.
During her second year, Sarah finds herself at the head of a small team of three interns. Their mission? To create a mobile application that allows employees of a company to receive critical information. “Some emails are thrown in the trash without even being read. The idea is to make them visible and attractive within an application. We also need to make it secure,” explains Sarah.
What does she like most about Orange Cyberdefense? “The good atmosphere and the team,” she answers. Daily, she is accompanied by her manager. Sarah explains: “He is very involved in the project, supervises our progress, and helps us when we get stuck.
What now? Orange Cyberdefense has offered Sarah a position in one of its CyberSOCs (Security Operation Center). After seven years of study, the young woman will finally be able to buy her apartment.
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