man with his arms held in his lap sitting and looking into the camera against the backdrop of a navy wall, sprightly potted ferm and white fireplace.
Lory Kehoe, managing director at ConsenSys. Image: © ConsenSys.

How to get a blockchain job in Dublin

14 Nov 2018

Looking to start your career in blockchain? If so, you may be interested to hear what will catch the eye of ConsenSys managing director Lory Kehoe when he is leafing through applications.

Blockchain technology has enjoyed a meteoric rise since the idea was first disseminated among the cryptography community a decade ago by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto. It was proposed as a way to enable decentralised cryptocurrencies, bitcoin in particular.

While the public opinion on bitcoin itself has vacillated as wildly as its value did during the great valuation bloat of late 2017, the consensus on blockchain’s usefulness has remained constant. As research and expertise in the area deepens, more possibilities for it are being revealed. It has seemingly limitless applications to everything from health records to e-voting to improving the beef supply chain. Just as the technology itself is reaching critical mass, more and more tech workers are turning towards the burgeoning field as the next step in their career.

They say the early bird gets the worm, but the early bird probably also has to hunt for that worm during the dim light of dawn without any example to follow. The novelty and new-ness of blockchain makes it just as daunting as it is exciting.

It’s exactly that excitement that will make you stand out during the recruitment process, according to ConsenSys Ireland managing director Lory Kehoe. According to Kehoe, the size of the ConsenSys team has grown twelvefold since the blockchain studio first set up shop in Dublin and shows no signs of slowing. Kehoe maintains that the company is, as of right now, immune to the pinch of the ‘war for tech talent’.

“I think there’s a lot of people, especially in Dublin, who are great technologists and great business people and they’re curious to be part of the next internet … developers are keen to work on the next wave of technology.” This wave, so the people at ConsenSys believe, will have an Ethereum current running through it.

“If you’re looking to get involved in a get-rich-quick scheme, that’s not what ConsenSys is at all.”

Getting hired at ConsenSys

If, in turn, you’re looking to get involved with a blockchain studio like ConsenSys, you’ll need first and foremost to have a demonstrable passion for and knowledge of blockchain technology. For ConsenSys in particular, as you may expect, you’ll need to understand Ethereum, its applications and the obstacles developers can face when working with it.

When Kehoe is assessing candidates – he says he spends an hour a day interviewing someone, and listens to at least one pitch per day – he will want to know that they have kept apprised with “the challenges that exist around scaling in terms of throughput, but also right the way through to talking to about token, the different types of token and digital assets that exist”.

ConsenSys typically seeks developers of all kinds – back-end, front-end and full-stack. Back-end developers will need to be familiar with languages like Go, Solidity and JavaScript while front-end developers will need to know their way around Angular or React. All developers will be put through their paces at interview stage with a ‘hacker rank’ test very similar to the ones deployed in Silicon Valley, but likely bearing no resemblance to the infamously raucous scene from The Social Network.

ConsenSys is also looking for scrum masters, product designers and product developers. Kehoe is quick to stress that there are plenty of opportunities on the business side of things as well. Successful candidates in this space will be ones with project management experience, people who “understand how to deliver technology projects in an Agile way” and who “are really good at listening and understanding the requirements of the business and translating those requirements back to the technical folk”. He calls those people “technical translators”.

The Irish blockchain boom

With the recent announcement that Coinbase will also open up a Dublin hub, it really seems like Ireland is in the throes of a blockchain boom that will likely only continue.

“In Ireland, we have access to great tech talent and a really strong and growing ecosystem in the blockchain space backed by an initiative with the IDA [called] Blockchain Ireland.” This scheme, which Kehoe co-founded almost four years ago, helps companies find their feet in Ireland. It has, he proudly states, contributed to the healthy network of blockchain players in Ireland, comprising a healthy mix of traditional financial behemoths like Mastercard and Fidelity Investments, trade finance companies, consulting firms and key companies such as Coinbase.

“There’s a strong and growing ecosystem, and it’s cool to be part of that and to contribute to that,” said Kehoe. “Now that Coinbase are here, who’s next?”

Writing the book on blockchain

The growing ubiquity of blockchain means that many of those from non-developer backgrounds are probably just as interested in learning more about it. Kehoe believes that an education in blockchain doesn’t have to be expensive. ConsenSys has a blockchain Coursera course that can be audited for free (gaining accreditation will set you back €65). The company also produces a blockchain e-book costing $15 that is constantly updated with the latest developments in the field, which Kehoe notes is a difficult feat to achieve.

This, coupled with resources like Blockchain Ireland to get your bearings on the Irish blockchain scene, will set you up nicely for starting a career in this area. Kehoe is confident that the coming year will bring a wealth of blockchain opportunities for those who want them, a confidence shared by ConsenSys founder Joe Lubin.

“If you really want something, the opportunities are there,” Kehoe concluded. “If [you’re] passionate and determined, that is recognised – not only by ConsenSys, but other companies as well.”

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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