Since making the move, the number of people that have reached out to me who are also thinking about doing the same has been pretty shocking. It's really great to see so many other people interested and if I'm being honest – it feels validating to know that so many others are also on the fence and so deeply interested in the space as well.
As for me, well I was nervous about making the career switch. Moving into a completely new area of specialization, with a technology I was still getting ramped up on, and a community I was not yet involved with, was a big leap compared to a very comfortable role with a FAANG company that paid really well (and a team that I really loved).
After over a month I can say that I not only have zero regrets with the change, I'm the happiest I've been in a long time and am excited and energized with the things I have the opportunity to work on everyday.
I decided to write this post to give a blueprint for anyone looking to get into blockchain, crypto, Ethereum, and Web3 from a traditional development background. I can point people to this blog post the next time I get asked how to get into the space.
This post will be a living digital garden that will evolve with feedback from others, recommendations, and my own personal growth, exploration, and evolution.
If you're looking to get up and running with the web3 stack as a developer, check out this post.
- Technologies and resources to learn
- Tradeoffs and considerations
- People to follow
- Companies hiring and doing interesting stuff
- General tips and landing a job
The things I'm most interested in are usually a function of where I predict technology will be in the somewhat near future and where I see the current momentum being, so that's what I will focus on here (and is what I am doing personally).
To me, the most exciting parts of this space are the ideas around decentralization itself, DeFi, governance / DAOs, stablecoins, NFTs + how artists and creators can finally monetize their platforms without ads, and decentralized web infrastructure.
Because of this, I'm focusing on both Ethereum development as well as Solidity because with the Solidity programming language you can program smart contracts for Ethereum as well as for many other EVM compatible blockchains. As of this writing, EVM chains also have the powerful and important combination of momentum, composability, developer mindshare, and existing production dapps. With that being said, Solana is also quickly gaining momentum, though I've found the barrier to entry for getting started to be higher as the tooling and ecosystem is not quite as mature as the EVM.
Ethereum itself is also currently moving to a new consensus mechanism, proof of stake, which addresses the environmental concerns I used to have about how cryptocurrency works at a core level.
Once you learn how everything works fundamentally, I encourage you to then check out other blockchains and projects outside of Ethereum and EVM to give you a better understanding of the industry as a whole, and to see if there are other projects that attract you or that you may believe are better approaches to achieving the goal that is Web3. Consider looking into Solana, Near, Tezos, Avalanche (which is an EVM chain) or Cosmos.
To get started learning blockchain development with Ethereum and Solidity, I suggest you do the folllowing:
Also be sure to check out the dapp showcase to get a good understanding of the successful apps being built and used in the current ecosystem.
The Solidity docs are a really good place to get started, especially solidity by example which gives you a few examples of popular smart contracts like voting, an auction, remote purchase, and micropayments.
You can copy and paste these contracts in the Remix IDE to start executing and modifying them to see how they work.
I also did a video walkthrough of the voting contract here.
It's really easy to play around with and start building smart contracts without having to set up any type of development environment by using the Remix IDE, part of the Remix Project which is funded by the Ethereum Foundation.
This Remix IDE allows you to create, edit, and execute smart contracts directly from your browser. It offers a perfect environment for learning how solidity works and is great for building out various types of smart contracts and playing around with them as you are learning both solidity as well as how to interact with Ethereum
In addition to Solidity, the other parts of the the development stack include a local Ethereum environment like Hardhat or Truffle, a wallet like Metamask as well as a client-side library that allows you to interact with the blockchain, like either Ethers.js or Web3.js.
To understand how all of this all fits together, it's useful to build out a full stack dapp on this stack from scratch, setting up the front end project as well as the local development environment and deploying, running, and interacting with a smart contract on the blockchain.
A few courses and tutorials to get you going with this are:
- Ethereum and Solana workshops - Website
The space itself moves very quickly, so technical books often get out of date just as quickly. The fundamentals of what Web3 is though have not changed much at all, and there are a few really great books that helped me not only grasp the current state of everything, they also helped open my eyes to the future possibilities and opportunities that lie within it.
If you only read one of these books, this is the one I'd say is the most important. It is a masterful deep dive into all of the shortcomings of the web as we know it, what Web3 aims to be, how it will affect various parts of our lives as we know it, and what needs to happen for this vision to be realized.
You can view the book here.
This is the amazing story of how Ethereum came to be, walking you through the history of it all. It is a very thorough and entertaining account of the origin story of Ethereum, I highly recommend checking it out.
You can view the book here.
The Spatial Web is a book that explores the future of the web and all of the implications of not only Web3 and decentralization, but how everything will come together to enable things that we may have not yet considered, and does a good job weighing the positive and negatives as well as ways that we may be able to address any negative outcomes of what is to come.
You can view the book here
Here are some good podcasts:
- Founders of Web 3 - The people that creating and building the next phase of the internet.
- Into the Ether - Podcast about Ethereum
- Crypto 101
- Epicenter - Learn about Crypto, Blockchain, Ethereum, Bitcoin and Distributed Technologies
- Delphi - Tapping the brains of leaders across all verticals in the digital asset industry.
- Eat the Blocks - Short videos on blockchain development
- Finematics - Sharing interesting DeFi videos
- Austin Griffith
I've also begun doing videos and tutorials on Ethereum and Solidity, so consider checking out my YouTube.
There are always considerations to think about when making a career transition, but especially when considering this space.
There are a lot of positives, but there are also unknowns as well as negatives. Let's talk about some of them.
While there are many existing dapps and companies already flourishing, this space is very much still coming into existence in many ways.
There are a lot of problems that still have yet to be solved, and there are no clear answers for many questions you'll have. The problems being solved are often complex, sometimes combining one or more aspects of distributed systems, game theory, cryptography, economics, social and political science, identity, psychology, and more.
Because of this, there are still things that cannot yet be built with the existing solutions that are available.
I personally think this is one of the more exciting things about all of it it, but it's not for everyone.
Many of the projects are built around various types of tokens. The value of many of these tokens rises and falls dramatically, and you often see that people gain and lose excitement in the entire space based on these swings.
If you are not fundamentally bought into the ideas behind decentralization itself, you may find these ups and downs mentally taxing.
If you are looking for stability, then consider a web3 team that has a large treasury or runway (at least 2 years), as web3 is just much less stable than web2. Most web3 companies will be more risky than a web2 company that has been around for a long period of time and has a strong foundation. Also consider that web3 may not be the right place for you right now if stability is of utmost importance.
Because a lot of people only buy into certain tokens in a speculative way, it attracts some people who are in it only for the money.
You see things like scammers trying to get over on people and steal their money, endless talk about price swings from people who are speculating, and outright scam projects that often discredit the industry as a whole.
I would also check out this thread, though I have not experienced all of these things, he is definitely shining a light on some of the things I have seen.
Here are a few people who you may consider following on Twitter:
I have been curating a list of people to follow on Twitter in web3 and crypto.
You can also find a pretty decent list of job opportunities in cryptocurrency here
Also, my team at Edge & Node is hiring!
There are many areas within the space that you can focus on and provide a positive impact on a team. I'd look into the different areas like DAOs, DeFi, NFTs, and decentralized web protocols to see what interests you the most and then focus on it.
There are a lot of opportunities and a lot of ways to stand out and get noticed. If you find an interesting project and would like to get involved, jump right into their community and ecosystem and start learning, then see where you may be able to help out. Join their Discord or look at their GitHub issues to find ways that you can contribute. Follow their team members on Twitter and try to be involved with conversations when the time is right. If you see a hackathon coming up, consider joining it and finding ways to contribute to a team and start building those relatonships.
These opportunities will give you a chance to meet people involved in the projects and will open up discussions for potentially landing a role with them. In fact, it is very common for people within the teams to take notice of active community participants, they will then often reach out and try to recruit you without you even applying.
There are also grants programs that often allow you to get your foot in the door without having to make it your full time role. If you can land a grant, you can not only continue to learn while getting paid, the relationships and connections you'll create while being involved at this level can often lead to many more opportunities and even full time roles. The easiest way for beginners to land grants are to offer up high quality tutorials and / or offer to enhance documentation in exchange for a grant. Also consider checking out Gitcoin grants and hackathons for opportunities to get paid while getting involved and learning.
For full time roles, the pay is usually good. Depending on where you are coming from, it could be more or less, but it's probably not going to be at the high levels of what you see at FAANG companies. There is probably more potential upside. Most companies offer a combination of base pay + equity in the form of their digital token, so if you stick around and can help make the project successful and the value of the token goes up, you can often make more than what you would in many other areas.