Ethernaut Wei series presents: Sabnock

A place where developers tell their stories of how they became part of web3.

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What did you do before getting into web3?

Before getting into web3, I worked as a full-stack developer at an advertising company. A digital consultancy, to be precise. My stack there mainly consisted of Vue, Node.js & Express, AWS, and Docker. On occasion, I would also use PHP/Laravel, Go, and TypeScript. But I was primarily a JS dev. My boss, there was really great and taught me tons of things. I wouldn't be here now without him. That was the only job I had between graduation from university and working now at Yield Protocol. In university, I was big into infosec and had a slight stint doing memory forensics research for the cybersecurity lab there before the university was shut down due to COVID. I was unable to find a job in the field and went into full-stack.

What were the first things you did in web3?

I got into "crypto" in January 2018 but that was only from a trading perspective. It wasn't really until August 2021 that I began to explore the dev side where I was contracted to build front ends for some NFT projects. That was my introduction and that was what initially triggered my interest in web3. The work I was doing was a lot more fun and rewarding (and profitable also) than what I was doing at my day job. I didn't want to quit my job there yet because I still felt unprepared to set out on my own. I wanted to learn some more first.

When and how did you start to think about quitting your web2 job?

While the NFT projects I was working on were cool, I didn't want to quit my job then. At the end of the year, I decided I would spend 2022 diving much deeper into the dev space. And that was exactly what I did. I got pretty involved in crypto Twitter and quickly came across the bigger dev accounts like Georgios and t11s. Georgios was tweeting a lot about Foundry at the time and I thought it seemed really cool and a good way to embed myself would be learning about it. That was sort of my start, learning about Foundry and getting into the "Foundry circle" on Twitter. I joined the Telegram group, read some blog posts people wrote about it and contributed to the docs. Just small things like that at first. I was retweeting Georgios a lot at the time and one afternoon while working he spontaneously dm's me and asks me what I'm working on. I was pretty blown away. I couldn't believe it wasn't a bot. I had to tell him I wasn't primarily a crypto dev yet and was still trying to break in. I remember doing a YouTube search shortly thereafter on his name and I found this code review he and Dan Robinson did with Alberto, our lead dev at Yield. That was how I first learned of Yield Protocol. About a month later, this Twitter user, Deor, makes a Discord server for crypto devs and I join it. One of the members there was devtooligan who also did a mentorship with Ethernaut and works at Yield. He had posted there sometime later that Yield would be starting another mentorship session soon. I knew that Yield was pretty small but had very talented devs and some strong backing. I had already applied to some positions previously but didn't get hired. There was something about Yield that really struck me. Before getting my CS degree I was actually an Econ major for a time and was really into that and finance and such. So I was always more interested in DeFi than NFTs, for better or worse. With Yield, I felt like that was the golden opportunity I was looking for. At the same time, my work at my regular job was becoming pretty sluggish. My boss was becoming a lot busier and so I couldn't glean as much insight from him anymore. My position there just wound up becoming increasingly untenable. I disliked an environment where I'm not constantly growing and learning new things. I still didn't feel quite prepared, but the Yield mentorship combined with my work environment was what triggered the realization that it was time for me to make the switch.

How did you hear about EthernautDAO?

I believe I first heard about it in a comment dcbuilder made on Twitter. I joined the Discord server back then but wasn't active at all until the Yield mentorship.

Have you applied for a mentorship?

Yes, I applied for the Yield mentorship in the Ethernaut Discord immediately as it was made available. Interesting story behind that. I had actually messaged devtooligan right after he posted about it telling him I really wanted it and would do whatever it took to get it. And we both simultaneously came to the conclusion that I could start making small open-source contributions to Yield being that I had virtually no previous experience as a smart contract developer. And that was what I did. Fortunately, there were some pretty small issues that I was able to open PR's for. Yield wanted to switch the testing suite they used for vault-v2 to Foundry which as it turned out I was perfectly suited for and that was my first major contribution to Yield. So by the time the mentorship rolled around, I had already "front-run" much of the competition so to speak. It also didn't hurt that I was an experienced dev (albeit somewhat junior) with an active GitHub either. So when Yield announced the six mentees they chose, I was one of them.

How did it feel? Did you work and get mentored at the same time?

Yes. The way the mentorship worked is we had ten assignments of increasing complexity which we built. The first was a small name registry and they grew in complexity to include things like an EIP-4626 compliant tokenized vault to a flash loan server and an AMM. But several of the mentees would be given small tasks to work on for Yield at the same time. I don't think any of us actually finished all ten of them before we started working on other things. I would work on converting some of the Foundry tests between doing some of the mentorship assignments. Eventually, I was given a task to build an integration with another protocol and from then on I didn't focus on the mentorship anymore.

If you have transitioned to web3 full-time, how different is it from your previous career?

It's enormously different. I don't have to spend over an hour a day driving to and from work anymore when I can just work remotely is one thing I'm personally very happy about. But the main thing that appeals to me is the people and the culture. Yield is very laid back but all the devs are also top-notch and always learning something or ready to help you learn something and I find that to be a very productive environment. That's what I like about it most. I've tried to study some of the work habits of other protocols and I'm actually a bit shocked that I haven't found one that I prefer more to Yield's. Our GitHub is very organized. We respond to issues and PR's in a timely manner. We're always designing new patterns to use for our codebase. Integrating with new protocols. Implementing new technologies into our stack like Foundry. Anyone can ask questions or make suggestions and have them considered. It's a really great environment. I really love getting to work with Alberto who I believe is one of the very best devs in the space. I've been working for Yield exclusively since May and in that time, he's taught me an enormous amount yet I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface. And devooligan is constantly learning and growing. From smart contract security to now Huff, he digests new things at a dizzying pace I struggle to keep up with though I continue to try nonetheless. But to sum up very good culture, and a very good team. I couldn't ask for anything more. I'm not sure there's anything else I'd rather be doing right now than working at Yield.

What advice would you give to web3-curious devs?

The best advice I think is to do what I did and hop in. Just embed yourself with the community. There are tons of genius devs in the space to learn from. All you really have to do is find them and put in the time. And all the code is open source so if you want to contribute or learn how something works, you can literally just do that. And if you have questions you can just go to Discord or dm the devs on Twitter and just ask. You can't do that for any other community. You just have to hang out and learn for a while before you set out on your own and decide what you want to do. It's important to make friends and learn. I mention a lot of people above (Georgios, Alberto, devtooligan, Deor, dcbuilder) all of whom had some contribution, small or large, to getting me where I am now and that is a large part of the success I've had and how I got started at Yield.

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EthernautDAO offers free mentorships to experienced web2 devs trying to break into web3. If you like this idea, check out the available mentorships in the EthernautDAO Discord and follow us on Twitter to get notified when a new mentorship is available.

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