Jobs in blockchain: how I got in and how you can too
tl;dr: This is the short version of the story of how I ended up working at the Web3 Foundation in Zug, Switzerland (aka Crypto Valley).
It could be alternatively titled: “how I turned yet another hobby into a job”. The “secret”: I was an active participant in the Polkadot community chat channels, and I was also actively blogging about the project. As a point of interest, it should be noted that Steemit also played a fairly important part in keeping my motivation up while I blogged.
Before entering the industry, one of my fears about trying to get a job in this industry was whether it was possible to do so without being a coder. I can do some coding, but I’m really not great. Now that I am here, I can see that it is definitely possible to work in the blockchain industry without being a coder. Moreover, I’d wager that there are more non-programming jobs than there are programming jobs.
2017 — the pump
Last year was a fairly crazy year for big ICO raises and surging prices. There was a ton of mainstream press and inevitably a implosion of prices. I wouldn’t be surprised if prices go lower still, but I won’t offer any predictions of how far as, invariably, I would be wrong.
During the summer I heard Gav Wood present his idea for the next generation blockchain at the Ethereum London meetup (the one run by Stephan Tual). Shortly afterwards, I read through the whitepaper and even wrote up some of my thoughts into blog form. In addition, I joined the various chat channels and began to ask questions. Eventually, after much reading and learning, I was even able to answer questions.
I came across Steemit sometime in 2017 and figured I’ve give it a go. By the end of the year, I had put most of my blogging efforts on to Steemit.
See here: https://steemit.com/@edwardthomson
The attraction is that after 10+ years of blogging without receiving a penny the possibility of getting a payout was attractive. In addition, there is a decent sized audience who are blockchain focused. Getting paid and getting feedback were two things I never really had in all my years of blogging and lead to a lack of motivation when it came to blogging. My blogging activity through 2017 was the highest it ever was, and most of my content ended up being blockchain related. A bull market in prices and the great buzz around the technology certainly helped.
While I think Steemit has problems with its reward system, it has been a useful site for keeping my motivation up.
Personal blogging requires effort which inevitably means sacrificing weekends and evenings after work in order to write anything. Naturally, I had to explain to my girlfriend that I was dedicating a lot of my free time to writing about magic Internet money (TM). Fortunately, I was lucky not to receive any hassle for doing so. In hindsight, the effort has paid off. I landed a job in blockchain, so I feel justified in sacrificing my free time to build a better future.
2018 — New Job
In January 2018, after months of blogging about blockchain, I was given a job offer from the Web3 Foundation. As to be expected when working for a small organisation, I don’t just cover one role but have a number of different responsibilities. I do consider myself lucky to receive such an opportunity, I know that luck is a part of my success here, another part of my success is the hard work paid through the dedication of my time and effort.
One requirement of the role was that I relocate to Switzerland; however, this was not a difficult choice. The switch from my job in London to one in Crypto Valley seemed like an obvious one.
London has a strong job market, offers a lots of things to do and see, so you might expect it to be a shock moving from a city with such a big population. Except that it wasn’t. I’m actually enjoying that Zug is a quiet and peaceful town that offers a good standard of living.
For comparison: Zug is a small town only 30,000 people living in town, and 100,000 total in the canton, while the greater conurbation of London is getting towards 10 million.
If you come to Zug then I recommend checking out the meetup group that I created for the Foundation. We will be hosting a mix of events that will help to educate and promote cool projects in the Web 3 ecosystem.
Now that I’ve seen a bit more from the inside I can see that there are a lot more job roles than programming. As with any industry, many of the companies in the beginning are small and in the past they had a small number of fairly specific roles. As the industry has increased in size so too has the number, and size, of companies along with a greater variety of roles available. Consequently, many of the roles that you find in every other industry are now becoming common in the blockchain industry.
In case you are wondering, let me list some examples of non-coding jobs:
- Graphic design
- Office management
- Operations (making the organisation function)
- Lawyer / legal consel
- Event planner / organiser
- Communicators (blogs / vlogs)
- Community management / outreach
- Human Resources
At the time of writing the Web3 Foundation is actually hiring, see the following: [Link]
Be interested. Be informed. Be involved.
I think the three things above are a large part of the success of many people now working in blockchain. Find a project that you are enthusiastic about, read voraciously about the projects, and don’t forgot to show an active interest in the project(s) you love.
I’m not the only person to get a job from being an active community member. Being active in a channel will get you noticed. I checked the Polkadot channel pretty much every day for months, and I was often commenting too. The same is true of Jack, who recently joined the foundation and is working alongside me doing comms. Jack was showing interest, showing an understanding of the issues, and was showing activity by commenting in the chat channels and in a couple of blog posts.
If your favourite team(s) don’t know you exist then you can’t get picked. Forget about declining prices and get on with discussing the future possibilities and help to build active communities.
Questions / comments
Feel free to reply with questions or comments. Also hit subscribe, or follow me on Twitter: EAThomson