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The Chronicles of a Web3 philosopher.

For me, Rust is not about the language, but what you can do with it. One of its coolest applications at the time I started Rust was in blockchain development. Most blockchain clients were written in C, C++, or Go. But Rust was new and used for mainstream blockchain development, so I felt this was the best combination. It was also around that time I started contributing to Rust-based open source projects. I had read and studied a lot of Rust code in 2017, but 2018 was my time writing the actual code. I was exploring the blockchain with Rust and was trying to build a payment system. Its idea was basically what Lazerpay does now, I called it Paysquare back then. The platform was built on Ethereum to collect Ethereum payments. To achieve this, a library called Web3 built by the developers at Ethereum existed. The only problem was that it was only written in Javascript. One of the engineers at Parity, where I later worked, who I would later get to know was pretty big in Blockchain and Rust had a Rust implementation on his Github, but it was unmaintained. Because of what I was building, I had to take over the project and contribute to it, along with other open-source Rust projects. During that period, my portfolio grew quite a bit. I contributed to a lot of open-source projects. Anyway, Paysquare didn’t work out, I think I lost motivation while building it.

In August 2018 or so, I was on the Rust Subreddit, and this company called Parity was hiring and I was interested. I had been writing Rust a lot during that period, so I was pretty confident in my skills. I applied. After a month, and a really weird interview process, I got in. The interview process I went through was not regular as I was not tested technically, rather my open-source contribution spoke for me. That's probably why when given the chance, I always advise new software developers to try contributing to open-source projects no matter how hard it might seem. Like Nike, just do it.

Anyway, My experience at Parity was a mixed one. On one hand, I got to work with really smart people. On the other hand, I was not getting a firm grasp of blockchain concepts like I would have liked to. It’s only now that I’m no longer with them, that I can look upon my time there and appreciate all that I learned. But while I was in the middle of it, I was stressed a lot of the time. I had imposter syndrome too. I was working with people way smarter than me. Anyway, I was there from September 2018 to July 2021. I wanted something new. After working at Parity and being exposed to the inner workings of a blockchain, I felt that I wanted to do something on the application layer. I knew working on the application layer of a blockchain product would bring the things I worked on at Parity into context. I currently work with a Polkadot parachain project called composable. They essentially use the substrate framework I had been working on for the past three years and use the Polkadot network security. So you can imagine the depth of understanding I have concerning the project.

I run an organization called Polytope labs. It’s an environment, a community of people who want to grow - people who want to take their software engineering career to the next level. Personally, I chose software engineering because out of all careers that exist, it was the only one in which you are in control of your trajectory. You don’t need to have a degree, and it’s entirely merit-based. There’s no signaling you have to do apart from the work you already do. I started coding with PHP in 2018, doing gigs on Nairaland, but at some point, I decided it was time to move to the next level. I learned mobile engineering to get to a certain point, then after that, I learned Rust to get to another. The plan has always been to move to the next level by taking on the harder stuff. That’s why I started Polytope labs - to help people advance their careers by taking on the harder stuff. We are currently focused on Web3, but really, we would make use of any field that moves our agenda forward.

As for my career plans, omo, I think my Rust journey will come to an end soon. I feel like I have more affinity towards designing systems rather than implementing them, "being in the trenches" and fighting with the Rust compiler. I think it would be a good experience for people just beginning their careers though. So in the future, I would probably focus on designing systems and growing the developer talent in Nigeria. A healthy goal for me would be to get at least a thousand developers employed in the Web3 space from Polytope labs in potentially the next two years. I know it will take a while, but I’m here for the long haul. This would enable us to build Web3 products for Africa. And really, it wouldn’t be bad if we have the developers building these web3 products to be people you know, people you helped to grow.

This story is based on Seun Lalenge's experience using Rust.

Discussion (3)

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adibhanna profile image
Adib Hanna

It's defintely stressful to work at Parity, they have a really smart team, and you always feel like you don't know anything. We both left the company around the same time, and looking back, I did learn a ton of stuff just by talking to different devs.

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desmondsanctity profile image
Desmond Obisi

Interesting read. The growth impact of open source contributions to a developers growth can't be overemphasized.

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kingzamzon profile image
Samson Adesanoye

Interesting read. I just start learning Rust. This sound encouraging on growth. Thank you Seun Lalenge