Jumping into Web3: A Developer's 2021 Recap

Jumping into Web3: A Developer's 2021 Recap


I'm Jacob, a web developer of about 4 years. It’s been quite the journey, considering I’m fully self-educated (a term I prefer over self-taught, but tomato tomAto). A lot of peeps that I've connected with this year are also self-educated, and I think that's why I feel like I belong in tech now more than ever.

I've never felt more connected with my fellow tech peeps. The joy and fulfillment that comes from connections like that, even if exclusively through a screen, is unmatched. Perhaps I finally unlocked the secret for my professional self...

The tech keeps things interesting, but it's the people that bring fulfillment.

Of course I'm still growing, still getting to know people, still getting better at finding and using my voice on social media, but boy have I completely changed how I approach my career.

People really truly matter. And that's been the driving force for my career in 2021.

First Half

I began this year still feeling like I was at a junior developer level. Looking back, I probably wasn't, but I certainly felt like it.

I was in that weird middle stage where I know enough to work on a solid, mildly complex personal project, but working on larger code-bases built by teams with actual business implications was extremely intimidating.

I began to outgrow that feeling working at a Web 2 agency building e-commerce sites. The role, which I later realized was necessary, was mostly front-end stuff on pretty boring projects. It was a good company; I would work mostly independently but occasionally help out with QA testing and smaller project features with the team.

That was my first ever full-time dev job, which I started in 2020. I honestly didn't learn much there. The only major takeaway was an understanding that I needed to level up my career. There's no way I could've been doing that type of work for years to come. I ended up feeling some dread regarding my future. Something had to change.

Balancing Plates

Another side note (or... main note) is that I became a dad in February 2021! To an awesome little boy, Ezra. Talk about learning a thing or two.

Becoming a dad has been the biggest challenge of my life. Considering it happened in the middle of a career crisis, I had to quickly figure out how to level up my career, for my own sake but also his! He and I both deserved more. Despite my agency job being remote, it was a very synchronous role. It just wasn't helping my situation as a new dad.

Second Half

With the feeling that I needed to level up my career, I began opening myself up to some side projects again, which I'd halted after getting my first job in 2020. I missed the hustle culture, the earning opportunities, and the ability to choose exciting projects to work on.

Perfect Timing

Soon after I made the decision to take on some side projects, I woke up one June morning with an email in my inbox, subject headline read: "Possible Web3 Collab?".

Just like that, a meeting was set up to chat with the founders of cocoNFT. And then soon after that, I began working on cocoNFT on contract and I was off to the races with a new opportunity.

Oh, and this was my very first Web3 gig ever.

Despite being slightly technically inexperienced in Web3, this was quite literally the opportunity I needed to level up my career. I had that gut feeling right from the start. So I dove in head first!

Learning Web3 on the Job

I'd been interested in Crypto and Web3 for a little over a year up until this point in June 2021. But I hadn't really tried my hand at actual development yet. I'd read blog posts and twitter threads on what Web3 dev entails, but I didn't have my own demo site or anything.

When I first opened the cocoNFT codebase, I had to learn about wallet connections, NFT minting, and other Web3 concepts right on the job. Luckily, most of the tickets I was taking on in the beginning were mostly React and Node related, rather than Web3-specific. So I acclimated well and learned at a great pace that suited me.

Leveling Up

Aside from the actual tech, I saw that the cocoNFT team was super excited about what they were building. The cocoNFT Slack was such an enjoyable experience to engage with; there were bots and channels tracking various events like ticket creation, API health status, and even NFT purchases. This curated Slack environment made me that much more happy to be a part of the team.

Considering the environment, as well as the tech, it made sense to accept the offer I received to join cocoNFT full-time in August. It was honestly such an easy decision. As I transitioned out of the agency job into a job in Web3, there were three major takeaways I noticed for myself:

1. Flexibility

We'll start with the obvious... Yes, my schedule was far more flexible. This better enabled me to learn to be a dad and find better balance in my life.

But beyond a flexible schedule, I was encouraged to work on tasks that I wanted to work on. Tickets weren't assigned as much as they were simply "picked up". This allowed me to spend a majority of my time on tasks I actually enjoyed working on. That's something I'd never experienced before.

2. Tech

The cocoNFT tech stack was perfect for me. Over the past couple years, I'd ended up deciding to specialize rather than generalize. The stack I chose to specialize in was an all-JavaScript stack. Specifically full-stack React and Express with TypeScript. And what do you know? The cocoNFT stack fit the bill.

I'm telling you, enjoying the tech stack you're working with accounts for so much of your career fulfillment. I found this out in my new Web3 job. Boring tech === a boring career. But when working with a stack you truly love, every task is exciting. Well, just about every task, of course.

Move fast and break things, but choose your stack wisely.

3. Team

The team I've been able to work with at cocoNFT has been nothing short of amazing. Shoutout to Renato, Ginther, Mark, and Brody (you know who you are). I've not only learned so much about team dynamics, but also just how crucial a good team is for your own happiness at a job.

Working in Web3 can be a little overwhelming at times. We're at a point where everything is still so new that we're all kinda making things up as we go. Solving problems that actually haven't been solved before. And doing so with a team that is truly on your side and is cooperative together makes all the difference in the world.

Looking Ahead

To be honest, I'm not even sure what 2022 is going to have for me. Web3 is so unpredictable, and that's what I love about it! Regardless, there are a couple focuses I have in the coming year: content creation, skillset growth, and relationships.

You can expect far more tweets, Instagram posts, and articles like this one from me in the next year. And who knows! You may even see or hear me on some podcasts, Twitter spaces, Discord community calls, and even on YouTube or Twitch!

I'll also be really focusing on my skills. Specifically lower-level technical knowledge on all things blockchain. Oh, and some Solidity too. You can definitely expect Solidity and blockchain articles on here sooner than later.

And last but absolutely not least, relationships. Back to my first point, the people you meet along the way in your career really are everything. I hope to deepen my relationships I made this past year and make all the more new ones this upcoming year. Because honestly, I'm done living with an unfulfilling career in a space as exciting as tech.

So here's to making the most of the dawn of Web3.