TL;DR Being a blockchain developer opens many opportunities for research & development today. If you like to work with new technologies and are ready to take on responsibilities, blockchain development is one of the best options available. But choose wisely and learn about the role you are taking on.
Hello, I’m Nikita. I am a software engineer with over 6 years of experience in the IT industry: from games to complete full-stack web services. My experience with blockchain, Ethereum in particular, started around a year ago, when I discovered this very promising technology. It is one of my primary interests for now, which actually steered my career in the blockchain solutions development direction.
In this article, I will share my experience in finding a job and working as a blockchain developer at a young startup, which is in my case, is the lovely project called DreamTeam.
Many companies and corporations have started to adopt blockchain solutions. With the good comes the bad, as a large number of scams and fake ICOs have also appeared to try to take advantage of these technologies in their infancy. However, that is a story for another time. The rise of blockchain technology has created a big new market and a high demand for specialists.
Today, as of March 2018, there are so many things going on with blockchain solutions development. Recently, I have received over 6 offers from Kiev startups and companies who needed blockchain (Ethereum) developers with experience; those companies were just a tiny portion of companies who found me thanks to the blockchain school organized in Kiev last October.
If you want to see for yourself how many things are going on around blockchain, try subscribing to public token sales lists. On average, you will see tens, if not hundreds of opened daily token sales.
Blockchain has the buzz that artificial intelligence had years ago. A lot of people wanted to start learning about machine learning and data science because it was something new and promising in the industry. Today, almost every large business has a room dedicated to scientists on their teams. As a result, there are a lot of data scientists and a lot of opportunities for them. As for blockchain, it’s definitely the right time to begin: a lot of opportunities are available with very few specialists.
Available Vacancies and Roles
In late 2017, I decided to enroll in Ethereum Solidity courses in Kiev. The main reason for this decision was my desire to work with experienced people in the industry and get some practical experience in blockchain solutions development. I never expected this decision to turn into my next career move; it was more as a for-fun type thing rather than for getting a job.
Nevertheless, at the end of the blockchain school I had successfully made a complete project and received a lot of phone calls from businesses around my city. I wasn’t actively looking for a job, but accepted pretty much every invitation to interviews — it was interesting!
Some companies wanted to adopt blockchain solutions to their existing products, mostly to do payments only, without using any unique logic or utilizing smart contracts. Others wanted to develop their own solutions over the Ethereum blockchain. Some were promising to release completely new asset exchange platforms for particular business needs.
I received an offer from every company I visited, which was exciting. This just goes to show the current demand in the industry. It didn’t hurt that I have experience in IT, a good understanding of blockchain and Ethereum in particular, and an infinite passion to learn new things. In Ukraine, it is always better for candidates to have an active lifestyle. Meaning, personally doing many things and having many hobbies outside of work. This portrays a certain level of motivation and can help land your next job.
DreamTeam, among other companies and startups, offered me a key position in their project, which played a crucial role in my decision. They are developing a universal platform for esports and want to use Ethereum to solve a couple of problems esports is facing, like irregular or manipulated payments or a lack of resources and training tools. And this is exciting, isn’t it?
Interviews for Blockchain Developer Positions
The thing I found interesting about the first series of interviews I had with other startups was that, even though they were technical interviews, none of them knew much about Ethereum. Strangely enough, the questions I received during those interviews were more about my own projects and past experiences rather than questions about Solidity (the Ethereum programming language). However, this kind of makes sense as most companies who are looking for blockchain developers don’t have any at their company.
In summary, 80% of the time I was talking about my past experiences. Most of the time, the interviewers had nothing to do but to listen and ask suggestive questions (which they were definitely good at) rather than asking the questions they had prepared for you.
In regards to startups, I must admit that in order to get a great position you should pay attention to how the interview process is organized. In my case, the interview in DreamTeam was the most organized one, and this made a big impression on me towards my decision to join them. Remember that not only the company makes an impression of you, but you make one of the company as well.
At DreamTeam, I had a 1-hour interview scheduled in their office, which turned into 1,5 hours of experience sharing. The guys from DreamTeam asked me pretty much about anything they could which extended our interesting conversation:
- My experience and interests
- My Initiative Society PoC on Ethereum blockchain
- My explanation of how Ethereum internals work, followed by a couple of edge case examples
- How I understand client-server communications like REST or WebSockets
- How would I approach particular problems like authorization
- How do I see the future of blockchain
And I had a lot to say about each topic or question. I am sure that having a lot of things to say and ask is a primary key to a successful interview.
Working in a Startup
After the blockchain school the first call I received was from DreamTeam. The very first interview in their office gave me a good impression about the company: people who work there were kind and responsive, experienced in what they do and moreover they had a good-looking neat office, which also matters as is usually a sign of success. The interview process was also well-organized.
At the time of writing this article, I have been with DreamTeam for six weeks and I honestly enjoy being here. We have a pretty young (on average) team of really skilled developers and managers. We sit close to each other in one big room, which enables excellent communication. And this all makes my time in the office fun and interesting.
DreamTeam utilizes the scrum methodology: every day we have a couple of meetings to share what we are doing and plan our next steps. This helps everyone stay in sync with others and it actually works nicely!
The team is comprised of 60 people, with approximately half of us working in software development. I am the only blockchain developer on the team (as of yet), which is absolutely enough.
The company culture is fantastic. We are not forced to spend our entire day in the office nor to come early or stay late. It’s more up to you how to manage your time and sync it with others. The main point is to stay as productive as you can. And the company endorses your productivity in a lot of different ways: they help set up your space, match skills to your interests and so on. Sometimes we go to different conferences in Ukraine and abroad, which is also a very good thing.
The company is constantly looking for skilled and good people, and I like this. Besides the fact that we already have a very strong team of developers, we grow fast, having approximately one person joining us every week. Check out our open vacancies if you would like to become a part of us!
The fun part in my job is that it’s not only about writing Solidity code. It’s more about having different meetings, interesting discussions, plannings and a lot of fun around this. I feel like very important guy who can work hard through the company’s future finances.
In regard to coding in Solidity, I find it very responsible and fun at the same time. Each line of code I write enhances something for the company and its users. Each function I write is subject to optimization, and the hardest part is not writing the code itself but designing the smart contracts in the right way and integrating it within the product.
Research and Development
The best thing about developing “the future of finance” is that you have a broad space for research and development. I would say R&D is a notable part of a blockchain developer’s job. Ethereum is not the only (but probably the best) option available today in terms of smart contract platforms. There are a few others.
Blockchain, smart contracts and cryptocurrency are involving very fast. At work I use technology which was created just a couple of months ago, not years! The community is pretty young as well and usually it is difficult to find all of the answers to my questions on the Internet. This opens a wide opportunity to develop my own solutions, discuss them, share my knowledge and so on.
Speaking about smart contracts and “digital economy” we try to bring to the world in terms of our product, things can potentially change. We may even decide to write our own blockchain (or even noBlockchain) solution in the future, because existing platforms may or may not satisfy some of our needs. For example, Ethereum is pretty expensive. Each transaction costs you money and the throughput is very limited. The main focus for now is to complete an initial and usable solution over Ethereum, but after the payments launch this Summer we may start developing something fascinating. Whether it will happen or not, I am very motivated.
Blockchain (and everything related to decentralized asset exchange platforms) is a very young and promising technology as it was with artificial intelligence many years ago. The job of a blockchain developer today is to shape the future of finances, growing and learning fast with the society. If you would like to work with the newest and the most up-to-date technologies than blockchain is probably a great place for you. Have fun!
Follow me up on Medium and other social media if you are interested in cryptocurrencies, blockchain and the future of finance. I plan to publish more interesting and technical articles soon.