How I Fell Down the Crypto Rabbit Hole and Became a Part-Time Developer at Infura
Hi there! My name’s Vince and I currently work part-time as a developer at Infura.
My ConsenSys journey started over 2 years ago, when I first stepped into 49 Bogart, the venerable first office of ConsenSys in Brooklyn, NY. Passing through that door for the first time was my metaphorical leap into the weird and wacky world of blockchain. From being completely clueless about crypto (I didn’t even know what a block or a smart contract was!), I found myself diving head-first into piles of white papers, Medium blogs, Decrypt articles, and crypto YouTubers, even managing to code and deploy my first smart contract! The journey has been awesome, and I’ve met a lot of interesting and inspiring people along the way and made tons of memories.
This summer, I was thrilled to get the chance to work at one of the most prestigious products within ConsenSys: Infura.
Infura provides API access to Ethereum, the Eth2 Beacon Chain, Filecoin, and IPFS. In simple terms, it serves as a gateway for businesses and projects to access and interact with these services without having to go through the hassle of setting up, running, and maintaining nodes. Pretty cool!
At Infura, I work as a backend developer and infrastructure engineer, primarily ensuring requests get routed to the right places and nothing crashes or breaks. Infura works in ‘sprints’, like a lot of other agile software companies. During each sprint, I discuss issues with teammates and assign myself to some, and then work on each one individually. Each issue takes me on a journey through our source code, docs, internet forums, and Slack threads;it can be a very time-consuming process. Nevertheless, I always feel that I emerge from the other side not just with a completed task, but also with newfound knowledge and experience allowing me to solve similar problems much more quickly.
Initially, being new to the (large) codebase, my progress was very slow. Before I could even start, I had to set up my environment, download all the necessary tools and configure my editor. Having friendly and resourceful teammates definitely helped, though. After some mind-boggling hours of mental stretching and reshaping, I finally found my groove and fixed my first issue! Nothing can beat the satisfaction of finally being able to close a ticket, and with that small first step, I was on my way to contributing to the codebase.
As weeks of whittling away at issues passed, I felt like I was giving myself a self-guided tour of the codebase, with each issue bringing me to a new place complete with features and new parts for my mental model. It was almost like a videogame, slowly unlocking new parts of the repository and completing suitable puzzles in each of them. Except it was also doing something useful at the same time, and working with an amazing team of people on the same adventure together!
Being a high school student has made it slightly tougher – I’ve never taken a computer networking or systems course. Surprisingly, however, I was able to pick up most of the necessary knowledge online. The vast resources and documentation published on the internet have made it easy to learn and use advanced tools, such as Kubernetes and Pulumi. The heart of coding hasn’t changed either, so while it was useful that I already knew one of the coding languages Infura uses (Golang), picking up another (Typescript) wasn’t too hard either.
Infura (and ConsenSys as a whole) is a remote-first asynchronous-first company. Meetings are kept to a minimum, something that I found very odd when I first started at ConsenSys. I got used to seeing faces over Zoom within days (and this was before COVID – making the transition to remote work very easy), but working and chatting with other people I had never met in real life does still admittedly feel a little strange. The remote-first approach definitely has advantages though: primarily enabling people to be in different timezones: I’m currently in the Philippines, working with colleagues from the US and Europe!
My biggest takeaway from this summer is that, with enough effort and passion, anyone can get involved in the crypto space. You don’t need a degree in Computer Science to understand how the fundamental systems at the core of blockchain operate. There’s a vast collection of articles, tutorials, and videos waiting for you! Even better, you can interact with most components for free through the various testnets and free plans that companies in the space provide – like the various credits or ‘free tiers’ cloud providers offer, and even Infura’s own ‘Core’ plan, which I initially used when learning about smart contracts and Ethereum.
The whirlwind that was my summer at Infura was probably the most enjoyable period of my life to this day. Of course, it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and kind consideration of the many amazing people inside Infura and in the wider Consensys mesh. As I continue my part-time work, I’ll never forget the puzzles, connections and experiences that I’ve collected along the way!