When a new type of industry emerges, we find it perhaps not creating a job market, but an opportunity market, primarily serving thepeople who can help themselves to pieces of a rapidly growing pie.
In this article I will outline some key opportunity areas of blockchain, and how you can become a contributing force within each of them. For people who are coming from a 9–to–5 job mentality — be ready to put in a lot of work and unpaid effort. Focus on long term goals instead of short term rewards.
The opportunity areas I will be highlighting are:
- Software development
- User experience
- Product management
Before you start looking for career opportunities, remember that certain prerequisites are needed to enter the blockchain industry as a software developer. You should for instance have a good understanding of how blockchains work, and how smart contracts are coded in languages such as Solidity. A solid grasp of distributed systems and peer-to-peer networking is an additional plus.
As for finding actual work, there’s dedicated job websites — and a global LinkedIn “blockchain” jobs search yields over 7600 results. That is of course the traditional method of breaking your way into a new industry.
Working for ICO’s
Another, perhaps more cunning way, would be to go to ICOBench and list all completed ico’s. Collect the contact emails to the projects you find interesting. Then prepare an introductory email presenting what value you can create in terms of software development, and send it over along with your CV. Don’t forget to include a link to your GitHub account.
An even more proactive way of finding your first job is to go to the GitHub page of your favourite blockchain project and find issues labeled “help wanted” or “good first issue”. There’s a service called Github-help-wantedwhich does just that. Add “solidity” as a language, or “blockchain” as the label and voila, now it’s just a matter of solving issues and proving yourself.
Blockchain jobs in traditional tech companies
The interest for blockchain has exploded recently, but its’ accompanying job market hasn’t. Traditional companies tend to adopt groundbreaking technology at a slower pace than startups, so finding blockchain jobs in larger corporations is a bit more difficult.
But if Jay-Z and “embracing the grind” has taught us one thing, it’s that you can hustle your way into practically anything, even a blockchain job at a traditional company.
There are multiple ways to go about this, but I’d start out by mapping out the industries where blockchain technology makes the most sense. Some of these are the insurance industry, banking and supply chain management.
Granted the largest players within each industry probably have their own blockchain innovation centers by now, so I’d focus on setting up meetings with the smaller companies to introduce your skill-set and how blockchain can act as a cost saver or technology enabler for them. If you are persistent and savvy enough (don’t forget to dress like success!), opportunity will eventually present itself either as consultancy work or even employment.
Kickstarting a career in design is easier than in software development, since a lot of existing knowledge can be “ported over”. Blockchain technology still relies heavily on traditional design processes; such as wireframing, A/B testing and good old visual design chops.
You should be able to showcase your work on Dribbble of course, and understand the pro’s and cons of blockchain technology. Also take some time to design a simple blockchain related piece of work, such as a product landing page or a cryptocurrency wallet concept. Here’s some inspiration to get you started.
Other than being experienced in design, concepts such as wallets, transactions and scalability should also be something you are familiar with. When you have that ready, head over to Blocktribe, Blockchainjobz or Cryptocurrencyjobs and start applying for jobs – and don’t forget to include a link to your design portfolio!
Product management jobs are perhaps the most challenging to find. This is since blockchain businesses primarily are startups with a single product, already managed by the CEO of the company.
Indeed has a slowly growing list of relevant product management jobs — but there’s also a strong case to be made for starting your own business.
Managing your own product
You’re reading this article since you are passionate about blockchain technology. So ask yourself the question — how often do you have the opportunity to actually create something from the ground up — in a brand new industry?
If you have a background in product management, then you probably have the experience of managing people who build products. So why not build your own?
Find someone who shares your passion about blockchain and who complements your skill-set. The killer kombo is often a product manager teamed up with a software developer, mainly because that’s what is needed to create a minimum viable product, which in turn can raise your first investment round.
If you’re still hesitant about the whole entrepreneurship lifestyle, read the next section to understand more about what starting a company in blockchain might actually look like.
Blockchain is an opportunity market — much more than a job market. This will scare off people who realise that it’s much easier to apply for a job, than to create one for yourself. But I think there’s still many valid arguments for starting a blockchain-based business.
Starting a business for the blockchain community
Your product will need to address the problems and needs of the blockchain community, either on the business or the consumer side. You could for instance enter the following fields:
- Usability for decentralized apps
- Tooling for smart contract developers
- Software-as-a-service solutions for blockchain technology
Many people might still be at a loss for ideas, but try to think of it in the words of Paul Graham;
The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself.
The quote summarises quite well how to find your blockchain idea. Just make sure you’re not a hammer looking for a nail. Focus on building something for blockchain technology, not on blockchain technology.
Starting a blockchain based business
Some people are attracted to the sheer ingenuity of blockchain technology and would like to use a distributed ledger for basically everything. This does limit your range of business ideas, so let’s take a step back and understand what properties blockchains can bring to the table.
Blockchain technology can, amongst other things;
- Guarantee uniqueness (example, CryptoStrikers)
- Remove the need of trusting middle-men (example, Walmart)
- Allow for higher transparency (example, Wagerr)
As you can see there’s a lot of real world applications that make sense. Keep in mind that the hardest thing about entrepreneurship isn’t finding an idea, it’s getting used to the idea of creating your own opportunities.
I hope you’ve gained some insight on how to create your own path in blockchain, regardless of your background. This industry is still ripe with opportunity–but mainly for those who are incentivised more by passion than pay.
So put yourself out there; write an article, create a crypto podcast, code a project in your spare time or setup your own business. Anything that creates value for the blockchain community, will in the end create an opportunity for you.