To be a successful blockchain developer, above all you need to be interested in the technology and be curious about the field. This also holds true about the whole idea of decentralized solutions which are being created with the help of blockchain. This is a new era in the web world. When someone decides to develop in this direction, they need to be prepared to read every day, even every hour, because the technology changes very quickly and there’s a risk that the knowledge you have at this moment will become outdated and unusable. We can safely say that in order to be successful, you need to really enjoy what you’re doing, and to me, the most important qualities are motivation and drive.
This is what Ognyan Chikov, Senior Blockchain Developer in LimeChain, believes. He joined the company back in 2017 as its first employee. And now, apart from being a blockchain developer, he’s also a mentor at LimeAcademy.
Can you tell us a bit more about why and how you decided to become a programmer?
I’ve had an interest in computers since I was little. I started with proper programming when I was 13 years old. I remember my father took me to a friend of his who had a computer assemblage business and asked him if there’d be some work for me to do over the summer break. The guy gave me a book – “PHP and MySQL Web Development”. I remember that I started reading it and built a program for managing an auto spare-parts shop. I was totally hooked by the fact that I could make the computer do what I instructed it to do.
And how did you transition to blockchain development?
Before I became a blockchain programmer, I had a lot to learn in terms of programming fundamentals, since my career path was in the direction of computer networks, which is also what I studied. At a certain moment I decided that networks were boring for me, so I started refreshing my programming skills and embarked on this so-called “transition”. I started with the easiest: “Front-End” and then I built up towards “Full-Stack”. In order to get there, I used popular online learning platforms and I tried to spend 1-2 hours every day so that I could progress quickly and not forget what I had learned already.
After that, I started moving towards the Web3 world and development of decentralized applications (dApps). Before I knew it, I was part of a team creating a Development & Deployment framework for blockchain – this was a product developed by my current company. In about a year we created the framework and because of this I had the chance to dive deep into the specifics of blockchain and from there to become a blockchain developer. As a whole, this was a complicated process, because at that moment we were one of the few pioneers in this sector and almost everything I learned was from colleagues and not so much from courses or open resources. At that stage of the development of the blockchain community, it was still small and we were encountering problems that no-one had encountered up until then.
And was it hard?
My view is that how hard something is boils down to how much time someone is ready to invest in the endeavor and how strong their desire is to realize that endeavor. If you’re disciplined enough, responsible and pursuing your goal by small, but important steps, then the process is quite easy. I won’t hide that when I decided to work in this technology, my colleagues knew more and had more information than one could find on Google. With their help we managed to create a solid team with a lot of knowledge and experience.
Did you also go through some sort of academy or did you learn by yourself?
Unfortunately, when I was in training, there were no accessible academies and I had to get ahead and learn alone with the help of my mentors at the company I’m working at. If there had been an academy, I would have definitely signed up. Right now, I have the opportunity to be part of an academy, but on the other side – as a mentor, to share my knowledge.
You are one of the mentors in LimeAcademy, could you tell us more about how you decided to do that and what exactly the Academy is?
When I started working with blockchain, I had two of the most incredible mentors that I ever had in my entire career. In fact, they are two of the LimeChain founders. With their help and with the right directions and encouragement from their side I was able to up my professional game. After that I decided I am ready to share knowledge and help people who are where I used to be – very eager but still confused about where to start from.
The Academy is a great opportunity for people with experience in programming who want to turn a new page in their professional journey. It is a training program in which people with the biggest drive and motivation have the chance to showcase their skills because the format is quite different from other courses out there. It gives the freedom to participants to manage their own time and the way in which they want to go through the learning materials in order to graduate.
Who is the Academy suitable for?
LimeAcademy is suitable for people with programming experience but without experience in blockchain technology. The application process is easy, but we do require candidates to complete an entry task, for which we provide the materials and some guidelines. This way, we filter the serious candidates and those for whom we see potential and the desire to rock it in the field.
The Academy lasts for 8 weeks, there are no lectures (participants have access to the learning materials in the shape of modules). In order to graduate successfully, participants need to submit a completed project and cover the mandatory literature for their project. The valuable thing is that every participant has a personal mentor (that’s right!). The kind of mentor that I also had, and this is the most precious thing in the process. The mentor takes care of the participant and makes sure they have the right approach when going through the materials and developing their project, which is then assessed. We want to give our participants the opportunity to put themselves in a blockchain developer’s shoes and to get first-hand experience of the innovations in the sector and the people who make them possible.
Which are the most valuable skills that participants acquire during the Academy?
Access to the technology is one of the most valuable aspects of the program. We shouldn’t forget though that there are also addition skills and knowledge that participants gain:
- Ability to create “Smart Contracts”, to manage and deploy them
- Ability to create decentralized applications (dApps)
- Ability to debug decentralized applications (dApps)
- Knowledge of the various layers and applications of blockchain technology
- Communication with people from the field and participating in various knowledge-, skills- and idea-sharing sessions;
- Self-discipline and self-control to complete a project within a pre-set time frame.
What is your advice to future participants?
It’s the advice I give to everyone who takes up something new and unfamiliar, namely: every new beginning is hard and looks uncertain, but when someone is in the right environment, surrounded by the right people, he/she can achieve anything. I advise everyone with experience in programming to get out of their comfort zone and dive into this technology, because it is the future of the web and it’s already here.
Do you want to learn more about blockchain?
The application window for the LimeAcademy’s May-June 2022 training season is now open. Learn more here.