Navigating The Transition From College To Career

Navigating The Transition From College To Career

The flexibility of the Web3 world means you don’t have to wait to get your foot on the career ladder.

Web3 is a fast-paced, exciting, and competitive world. The industry never stands still, with new developments happening every day. Behind the ‘noise’ of the markets, there’s a ‘signal’ of constant progress, as individuals and companies steadily build the infrastructure for the future of the financial system and the next version of the internet. Web3 is a great industry in which to start a career. While it’s not for everyone, the rewards are absolutely there for those who have the aptitude and are prepared to put in the work.

The saying goes that the best time to plant a tree is 100 years ago. The second best time is today. It’s the same with a Web3 career. If you’re not already involved, there are still plenty of opportunities, and the sector looks set to expand for many years to come. It’s still early, but the sooner you can get started, the better. As decentralised technologies gain traction, you’ll know more and have more experience than others who are competing for the same jobs.

Even if you’re still in college, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get started immediately. Here are some suggestions and encouragements for getting your new career in Web3 off the mark.

Who’s On Your Resume?

A CV is not nearly so important in Web3 as it would be when applying for a TradFi job. Sure, prospective employers will want to know a bit about you, but they’re not going to care a whole lot about where you went to school, what you studied, or even if you’re still in education. The sector is only a few years old, and so there are few formal courses that might give you an edge – and they’re certainly not a prerequisite. Even if you’re a developer, you won’t need to have formally studied computer science, or coding for a given language.

What is important to an employer is your experience. Hiring in Web3 can be a risky endeavour, and they will want to know you can get the job done. The informality of the Web3 world is one of its greatest strengths. It allows for a high degree of business agility, without the bureaucracy that slows down regular organisations. However, it has its drawbacks, and the problem of figuring out who the good people are is one of them.

If you want to stand out against the crowd, one of the best ways of doing that is to have experience with a high-profile brand or project. When recruiters look at your application, the first thing they look at will be who you have worked for. If you have time with a big-name crypto company in your background, that’s worth a lot, especially if you can provide proof of your worth to them – whether that’s published code, a portfolio of art or writing, endorsements from influential people, an established presence on social media, or anything else that shows your work there was fruitful and appreciated.

While a rock-star job as a senior developer will open doors just about anywhere in the Web3 space, it doesn’t have to be anything that impressive. A spell as an intern or volunteer will be enough to send your name towards the top of the pile, as someone who knows their way around the space better than most, and is capable of adding value.

Don’t Hang Around

It’s usual for college students to take an internship after graduation, or perhaps to pick up work experience in the summer holiday while they wait for the new college year to begin. Both of these are fine, but there’s no need to wait that long. In fact, it’s often better not to.

Things move fast in Web3. There are always new technologies being developed and new platforms launched. The market evolves rapidly but follows a broad cycle. There are countless opportunities and if you miss one, it will only be a matter of time before another comes along. At the same time, though, getting in as early as possible will be a huge benefit. You’ll pick up knowledge and skills before other people, and in an industry that has only existed for a few years, even a few months of experience can be enough to help you stand out.

What’s more, there are not the same barriers in Web3 that would prevent you from gaining experience in a more conventional role. Web3 is global, and it’s 24/7. Remote work is the norm, and there are often no constraints on when you might need to be available.

That means you can start while you’re still at college. While you should absolutely not neglect your studies, for many people Web3 is a hobby or a side-project before it’s a full-time job. You can gain valuable experience in the odd evening or a few hours at the weekend, or whenever you happen to be free.

Volunteer, Intern, Starter-Job?

The next question is, who will you end up working for?

That’s going to depend on several factors, including:

  • The skills and experience you can offer
  • The time you have to give to the organisation
  • What you’re looking for in return
  • Whether you need paying
  • What opportunities are around at the current time

For example, there are often plenty of opportunities to volunteer for grassroots projects. These may not have a particularly high profile within the Web3 space, but they can be a great place to get started and gain some experience (plus you never know what’s going to become the next big thing – and you’ll have been there at the beginning).

Small projects tend to have more close-knit teams, and while the pay may be poor or non-existent, there might be other ways to advance your career – gaining a mentor to help you learn to code, contributing material of one kind or another to a finished product, getting your name out there as a trustworthy and reliable person in the space, and so on.

Alternatively, you might aim to pick up a few hours per week with a high-profile brand. Even if you’re volunteering – or more likely interning, if it’s a big organisation – you’ll probably need some kind of previous experience, which is where having those lower-key roles under your belt becomes so valuable.

Don’t forget: one thing can lead to another. If you’ve proven your worth in a role, most organisations will be reluctant to let you go, especially if they’ve taken the time and effort to help train you up. There’s a good chance – a very good chance – that a successful internship will turn into something longer-term.

Aim For Web2.5

Many people who are looking to break into Web3 will seek to secure a volunteer or internship role in Web3.

Understandable though that might be, it’s actually not necessary – and potentially counterproductive. There are a limited number of ‘pure’ Web3 jobs. A lot of people will look for an opportunity as a community manager, smart contract developer, or something else that really is specific and unique to Web3, with the result that there is a lot of competition for these jobs.

Instead, you might like to cast your net a bit wider. If you have any kind of experience in Web2, or in other conventional roles, then consider a ‘sideways’ move into something relevant in the blockchain space that uses the same skills.

What Is Web3?

Remember, Web3 is a different way of providing web services and infrastructure, but in many ways and for many jobs, it’s not so very different to Web2.

  • Web2 is the ‘read-write web’. It features a large amount of user-generated content (in contrast to the ‘read-only’ Web1, which relied on static websites). Web2 is characterised by huge, centralised tech corporations such as social media companies, who host the content created by their users, and who control access, distribution, and revenue allocation.
  • Web3 is the ‘read-write-own web’, in which infrastructure and apps (or decentralised apps, dApps) are owned and controlled by users rather than corporations. However, there is very much the same emphasis on user-generated content – more so, in fact, since blockchain technology facilitates the use of new forms of content, such as NFTs.

While Web3 incorporates blockchain and other decentralised technologies, many of the other technologies used to build it are the same as for Web2. There are plenty of transferable skills, too.

For example, if you’ve worked as a UX/UI developer in Web2, it’s not a huge stretch to apply those same skills in a Web3 setting. HTML, CSS, Python, JavaScript, and other popular languages are widely used. The same goes for graphic design, copywriting, and many other areas. You’ll need a basic understanding of what blockchain is and how it works, but you won’t need the kind of in-depth technical grasp that would be required if you’re a smart contract developer.

In short, there’s a good chance you can find a volunteer or internship role with a Web3 company that requires more general skills – but that will still give you the experience of the sector that you need to move on to bigger and better things.

Social Proof

No matter what you’ve achieved in Web3, you’ll need to show evidence of that for it to count towards your next job. In the TradFi space, that would happen through a CV and (more importantly) references from key people.

The great thing about Web3 is that, like the blockchain technology on which it’s built, the sector tends to be open and transparent, meaning that anyone should be able to see your experience at a glance.

Large communities are built up on social media – Discord, Telegram and Twitter/X, especially. ‘Crypto Twitter’ plays a major role in the space, and is the first and most important source of information and breaking news for many people. Updates and achievements are shared publicly, as are setbacks, failures and misdemeanours.

In short, anyone looking to find out about you in the crypto world will likely start on Twitter. They will want to know whether you have a social presence, and what kind of reputation you have. They’ll see what you’ve posted, what you’ve been involved in, who follows and interacts with you, and who has endorsed you for your work.

Therefore, make sure you get the social proof you deserve, and that will help you stand out. Engage on Twitter: say who you’re working for, what you’re doing, reply to relevant posts, connect with others in your organisation, and build up a presence. You can supplement that with posts and connections on LinkedIn and other platforms, but do not underestimate the importance of Twitter.

Home Or Away?

Lastly, one of the great things about Web3 is that you’re not restricted by location. Your hunt for volunteer roles and internships can and should be global, not confined to your immediate locality. Many organisations aren’t based in any specific place at all; their teams are dispersed around the world. No matter where you are living, you’ll be able to apply for these opportunities.

Other companies have their offices in crypto hubs like Singapore or Dubai. The US has a large number of blockchain startups too, and its fair share of big businesses, but the regulatory situation there is still unclear and off-putting for some people.

If you’re prepared to travel and have the opportunity, you might grab the chance to live and work abroad. If not – perhaps you’re still in college, or have commitments at home – then you can still apply for roles in these places, which may be far more crypto-friendly than your own jurisdiction.

The point is that when remote work is the norm, and you can work your own hours, the world really is your oyster.