Art Malkov is the Chief Digital Officer at BlockchainDriven and is a Columbia University Lab to Market Blockchain Accelerator Advisor.
I’ve been involved in blockchain for much of its existence, and I’m not kidding when I say that everyone I run into while networking who is not involved in blockchain asks me how they can be. The answer is that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to this sort of thing. Blockchain isn’t a particular set of skills, a background or a degree. It’s a rapidly growing industry that is becoming the most exciting emerging tech sector in the world.
I want to give some advice on getting a job in blockchain or making blockchain a career for yourself in the industry, but we first need to get on the same page about a few things.
1. Blockchain is not just cryptocurrency.
Blockchain’s first notable application was in cryptocurrency, and what an application is has turned out to be. Blockchain’s underlying technology is what makes cryptocurrency possible, but it is only one application of the technology. Think of it this way: Blockchain will disrupt many aspects of life, and currency was just the first one to hit.
2. Blockchain is a long-term investment now.
During Bitcoin’s boom, the word blockchain became synonymous with risky investments and massive profits, followed by extremely disappointing downswings. This is no longer the case. Risking your savings on Bitcoin wasn’t a smart move then, and it isn’t a smart move now. The best way to jump on board this exciting technology’s journey to the top is through a career. And you don’t need to be a programmer or have any technical knowledge whatsoever to get involved.
Blockchain’s expansion, especially in finance, has been noted by some incredibly large players in that sector. IBM and American Express are two strong advocates for blockchain technology, and both companies know how to succeed. One major feature of their hiring practices for their blockchain endeavors seems to be, in my observation, their conscious effort to hire smart and driven people from all backgrounds, understanding that blockchain is new and that having experience in the industry shouldn’t be a prerequisite.
Recently, we did extensive research on blockchain careers, including which positions are available, which are trending upwards, which companies are expanding, what skills companies are looking for and much more. Here’s what we found.
Technical skills are not a must.
While technical skills are certainly helpful, companies hiring blockchain employees aren’t necessarily viewing them as must-haves. In fact, outside of the obvious development positions where using these skills are the bulk of the responsibilities, many of these companies would much rather you bring something unique to the table and have skills and experience in your current field.
Major companies are hiring.
I mentioned this a bit earlier, but companies such as IBM, American Express and JPMorgan are all considered core to the advancement of blockchain. In the early days (well, the last 10 years or so), the blockchain “industry” was less of an industry and more of a Wild West of white papers and speculative investments on projects with anonymous founders and a poorly made website. That, fortunately, isn’t the case anymore. Now, a significant amount of professionalism has been added to the blockchain industry, and some of the largest companies in the world are getting involved, allowing people to get into a blockchain career early without needing to do so in a startup or founding a company themselves.
More sectors are being targeted.
We always knew that blockchain’s strengths were best applied to more stagnant industries in need of a good kick in the backside, but what we’ve found recently is that more industries than the few obvious ones are being, and I’m going to invent a word here, “blockchained.” Some industries that are being infiltrated by blockchain are healthcare, finance, supply chain, NGOs, retail transactions, groceries, social media and digital identity. If you have any experience in any of these fields, know that the blockchain companies working in these areas are looking for people with relevant experience to join their teams, even if they haven’t worked on blockchain before.
I recently attended a small event for an invitation-only network for VCs in New York. To my surprise, most VCs I talked to are very much in tune with the blockchain space. To me, this shows a clear trajectory of awareness for blockchain, and it shows the smart money’s direction is pointed toward the blockchain industry.
While it’s understandable that the chatter surrounding emerging technologies like blockchain ends up devolving into how exclusive, secretive and groundbreaking they are, blockchain has achieved mainstream viability in a number of areas. And that’s the great thing about the industry: Every skill set is valued, and one doesn’t need the technical knowledge that certain other emerging technologies demand. Anybody of any background should seriously consider moving their career to blockchain if it’s something they feel passionate about. The opportunity for growth over the next three to five years is very high.
Skilling up your blockchain knowledge is certainly a savvy move now, but most experts believe that those who gather blockchain experience during its current phase of significant expansion will be highly in demand once blockchain adoption takes place on a worldwide scale. So don’t wait! It’s a great sector filled with (almost exclusively) great people from extremely varied backgrounds. Some high-up blockchain professionals I’ve met in the last few months include a former high school history teacher, a game developer, a quant trader, a visual artist and a digital marketer. Future-proofing your career may be the smartest thing to do in 2020.
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