How to get started in Blockchain?

A short guide on how to prepare yourself for a career in blockchain

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Courtesy — Dilbert Comics

This article is inspired by a recent webinar I conducted on Career Paths in Blockchain. I was pleasantly surprised to receive many queries after the webinar, and this is my attempt to answer most of them from a beginner’s perspective.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list/method, just my observations, and experience from the past few years in this space. The software industry in general values skills more than credentials and as such, there is very less gatekeeping, if you are talented, nothing can stop you.

Blockchain is one of the most in-demand skills right now , but if you are looking to get started in Blockchain only because of this — don’t. The most valued job will change every few years, making a career choice on this metric alone is not a wise decision.

What is this Blockchain?

To those who are new to blockchain, I recommend this course and this talk by Prof. Antonopoulos to get started. This article highlights 50 different use cases of blockchain.

Evolution of Blockchain

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Satoshi’s paper that kickstarted Bitcoin

The first real evolution happened in 2012 when Ethereum was launched, this was quite a major rethink about the concept of blockchain, Ethereum envisioned a world computer. Rather than just store data on blockchain, you could now execute code on the network, this code is referred to as smart contracts. Tron, EOS, Cardano are some other networks that provide smart contract execution capabilities.

Another major development that happened in this field was the creation of DLTs. DLT stands for Distributed Ledger Technology, to put it simply, DLT is blockchain minus the decentralisation and openness. Why are DLTs needed, you ask? Well, large corporations (mostly big banks) and even governments wanted to exploit the benefits of blockchain data storage, but for obvious reasons cannot expose all their data to the public, hence DLT was created. Now there is a lot of debate if DLT is technically a blockchain, but let’s leave that aside for now. Hyperledger Fabric and Corda are some examples of DLT.

So how to get started?

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Courtesy — Dilbert Comics

Regardless of the role, my advice would be to learn the basis of these three concepts, networking, cryptography and distributed systems.

Let’s look at some roles generally seen across blockchain companies, keep in mind that the same role might have completely different functions at different firms, so this is just a rough guide on what you can expect.

Blockchain Developer

Let’s take the first case, if you are working in a company that is creating a new blockchain network, you would work with protocols, consensus, and network development. Some examples of such companies are Tezos and Cosmos. Matic Network is a promising startup from India in this space. There is no easy answer to what language will help you here, a company can choose a language it best sees fit for the platform. But from my experience, a large majority of the networks tend to prefer Golang, so that would be my recommendation.

The second case is where you would be working for a large enterprise setting up a private blockchain network (DLT) for their use. This would be the case at large service companies like Infosys and Cognizant. Here the answer depends on the platform of your choice, the two most popular options are Hyperledger Fabric and Corda. Hyperledger Fabric natively supports Golang and NodeJS. Corda natively supports Java and Kotlin.

Smart Contract Developer

DApp Developer

Blockchain Architect

Contribute to open source projects!

Once you have a good grasp of the concepts, I highly recommend you to start reading and contributing to any project of your choosing. Some blockchain companies, in fact, only interview developers who have previously contributed to their open source repos. So while learning, you might also catch the recruiter’s attention!

Some example for you to get started — Etherum’s Repo, Cosmos Repo, Corda Repo

Conclusion

Happy Learning.

Written by

I write about blockchain and tech. https://twitter.com/stanlyjohnson72

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