Pursuing my crypto curiosity landed me a life-changing job
How the little things added up for this front-end developer.
Into the Cryptoverse is a weekly Breach series that documents the stories of everyday people as they navigate the cryptoverse.
For Patience Adajah, crypto was not a part of her plans. At least not until 2020 when a Web3 project piqued her curiosity. Since then, she has chased it down many rabbit holes and learned some expensive lessons along the way.
What did she learn? Dive in:
How would you describe what you do to me?
I build websites. At the moment, I’m a frontend developer at Boardroom where I work with the development team to build tools for Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs). Because I’m on the frontend side of things, a lot of my work revolves around building users interfaces and interacting with smart contracts.
Sounds interesting. Did you always want to do this?
No. Working in the crypto industry wasn’t part of my plans until 2020. I started out as a developer in Web2 — the internet as we know it today, and all I wanted to do was build things people could use. Crypto came into the mix in 2019 and laid the premise for how I got here.
Ah, great. Can we go back to when it all started?
I heard about crypto in passing for the first time in 2019, but I had no reason to give it much thought. About a year later — in October 2020 — I got a contract to work with a team that was building a cryptocurrency exchange. Right there, I knew I had to learn more about the crypto space.
Before this time, all the things I heard about crypto were related to buying and holding and small-time trading. I wasn’t interested in all of that stuff because the volatility of cryptocurrencies scared me. At that point, I didn’t know that stablecoins — cryptocurrencies pegged to a government-backed currency like the dollars — could help fix the issue of volatility.
Fair enough. What was it like working on the project?
I was the person on the team who was constantly Googling stuff and watching Youtube videos to figure out what others were talking about. Thankfully, my team lead, Chibuotu Amadi, had more crypto experience and gave me my first lifeline.
What was that?
Kernel fellowship. It’s an eight-week fellowship for people curious about crypto and Web3. My team lead sent me a link to apply, and I did. This was December 2020.
As part of the application process, I paid $10 worth of Ethereum (ETH) to confirm my interest in the cohort, marking my first crypto transaction.
I suppose you got into the fellowship.
Yes, I did. It kicked off in February 2021. Here’s the thing: I got into the fellowship thinking I was going to learn about cryptocurrencies, the blockchain and the other basic stuff. The fellowship started and boy, I was astonished by my initial confusion.
Why, what happened?
Contrary to what I believed, the fellowship wasn’t designed to teach us how to buy, sell or trade crypto. No, it was miles deeper than that. We were discussing things like the ethos and philosophy of Web3, the history and evolution of the financial systems and why decentralisation matters.
I’m not going to lie, I felt out of place for a while. Granted, the conversations were deep and meaningful, but I was always lost. So I did the only thing I could: return to my notes and research more after each session. Was it a little stressful? Yes! Was it also fun and rewarding? Absolutely.
Another thing I found fascinating about the fellowship was the mix of people in it. The consistent pattern was that most of the fellows were builders. Even those who came from a non-technical background were leveraging crypto and web3 in their businesses. I couldn’t let some confusion stop me from making the best use of that kind of experience.
In the middle of all of this, I was also playing around and experimenting with cryptocurrencies. I found out that it wasn’t as hard as I had thought. All I had to do was link my debit card with a crypto exchange. Well, at least until the Central Bank of Nigeria clamped down on crypto transactions and stopped Nigerian banks from processing them.
Ah. the infamous crypto ban.
Yes, that one. I had to learn something new to bypass this — peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions. But that wasn’t even my major concern at the time.
What do you mean?
Remember the crypto exchange I was working on? We had to pause that because of the ban and figure out how to add a P2P feature to what we were working on. It was a lot.
Sorry about that. What about the fellowship?
This was now March 2021. We had reached a stage where we could collaborate with other fellows in the programme. Interestingly, some people came into the fellowship with projects they were already working on. So if anybody said they needed a developer, I pitched myself and applied. That was how I got the next project I worked on.
Tell me more about that.
Someone in the fellowship was working on a DeFi project and had forked PancakeSwap’s code. He also needed a developer who was good with a programming language called React so I worked with him on the project. This was my introduction to DeFi and staking.
There’s one other thing: I took the job because I believed it was something I could do. This project was completely different — I was good at React, but I was also developing a product for Web3.
What was the difference between this project and the previous ones you had worked on?
That said, I didn’t mind how fast everything was changing and how difficult it was to keep up — learning new tech is always fun because you get to build stuff you haven’t built before.
That’s a solid way to think about it.
Anyway, I was paid for this project in USDC — the first time I was earning in crypto. By this time, I just started using Binance, so I copied my USDC address from the app, sent it to the guy and he sent me 500 USDC.
Something weird happened though.
The guy sent me the transaction hash, confirming that he had sent the coins. However, there was nothing in my Binance wallet. It turned out that he had sent it to a different network.
Here’s what happened: USDC supports multiple networks. When I copied the wallet address, I chose the Ethereum network. When he sent the coin, he chose Polygon. While the address was correct, the network wasn’t.
Sadly, Binance didn’t support the Polygon network at the time and that meant that my money was gone.
See, when I realised what had happened, my first thought was “what’s this new thing again?” In the end, it was a good lesson about networks and chains, although it was also a little sad that I had to lose money to learn it.
I’m sorry about that.
No, it’s fine. The guy acknowledged the miscommunication on both ends so he offered to send me $250. This time, I decided to move to a decentralised wallet, so I downloaded Metamask and set it up. The money came through this time.
Wait, I couldn’t catch a break yet. Something else happened.
I was using the Metamask extension on my Chrome browser. Now, my chrome had an issue that caused every tab to reload after a few seconds. This was inconvenient because most of my development work happens on chrome. I decided to uninstall and reinstall the app.
I knew my Metamask seed phrases — a series of words used to access a crypto wallet — were important, and I had them saved somewhere. The USDC I earned from that gig was in one of my Metamask addresses, so I wasn’t going to take any chances. Anyway, I reinstalled Metamask and I couldn’t find the address that had my USDC. It was wild.
Man, I agree. What do you think happened there?
I still haven’t figured it out till today even though I did a couple of back and forth with the Metamask support team. At some point, I had to let it go. That’s how I lost $750 navigating crypto.
God. How did you wrap your head around it?
All of these things pushed me further down the rabbit hole. I thought it was part of the process and if I kept at it, I would eventually understand crypto.
This spirit. Hook it.
My kernel fellowship ended in April 2021, and I realised that DeFi and DAOs had grown on me. I was looking for a change and I thought it would be cool to get a role in either of these spaces. If anything, it would ensure that I kept learning and building.
What did you do next?
I threw myself into looking for a crypto job. I heard about AngelList — a website where startups around the world list the roles they’re hiring for and find talent. This was the resource I used to apply to several crypto startups. I didn’t get into most of them.
Eventually, Boardroom came along. After a couple of conversations and technical interviews, I got the job. Guess what was instrumental in getting me into the company.
What was it?
The Kernel fellowship. The people at Boardroom weren’t looking for crypto OGs or people with years of blockchain experience. They were particular about curiosity and enthusiasm. My participation in the Kernel fellowship proved that to them.
It’s interesting how little steps add up. What were your first weeks on the job like?
To be honest, it was mostly reading papers about DAOs. I wasn’t starting from scratch, but I still needed a high-level knowledge of DAOs and their operations.
Also, I was transitioning from Web2 into Web3. It didn’t end at just learning about the space, I also had to learn how to use new tools. It was a blur but it got easier as the weeks went by.
A lot has happened for you between 2020 and now.
Absolutely. It’s interesting just how far curiosity can take you. That said, I also recognise how crypto has levelled the playing ground. For someone like me coming from Nigeria, it would have been more difficult to make these moves so fast in the pre-crypto era. But now, I feel like we all stand a chance with crypto.
Where do you imagine it goes from here?
I don’t have a big picture, but I’m open-minded. When I got into tech, I didn’t think I was going to work in the crypto industry. Now that has happened, I just want to keep building products — it gives me a sense of ownership. If anything, working in crypto confirms that I’ll remain curious and enthusiastic for as long as possible, and I’d like to keep that going.
I’m rooting for you. If you had a piece of advice for someone transitioning from Web2 into Web3, what would it be?
Beyond the skills, learn the ethos of web3. I find that it helps to learn about the why first before going deeper into the how. It helps to see things from a high-level perspective.
So yeah, before you think about how you fit into crypto and web3, maybe learn about why its basic characteristics like decentralisation are important.
Check back every Monday at 10 a.m. for a new episode.