Serai developer Luke Parker on how he started his career

The Lead Developer of the upcoming decentralized exchange for Monero got into Cryptocurrency development at age 17. We talk about how he got started in the industry.

Many people would like to have a career in crypto. How did you first come across this opportunity?

I first got into cryptocurrency when I was volunteering with one project as a developer, and they had a discussion with an Ethereum-based marketplace. I wanted to learn more about what they were doing, and a few days after being there, they announced a bounty for $600. As a teenager, this was a lot of money. Despite being able as a junior developer, and on contractor sites for a few months, I was never able to work out payment as I didn't have a bank account and couldn't get a Paypal due to my age. With cryptocurrency... it didn't matter. All I had to do was crate a wallet and I was able to get paid! I immediately got to work on, and completed, the bounty, being my first paycheck as a developer.

How did you learn the necessary skills?

I learned how to code as a kid, wanting to make video games when I grew up. The core of any programming job, in cryptocurrency or anywhere else, will always be programming, so knowing the fundamentals is critical. The best way, in my opinion, to learn cryptocurrency, or any topic for that matter, would be to get experience with it. I went from writing a basic stats dashboard for one project, to working on a tip bot handling payments, to building my own cryptocurrency. With each step, I learned about different parts, while learning more about everything overall. The key component though is to know you don't have experience and aren't ready to deal with cryptocurrency, which does have value and isn't just a number on a screen. I didn't know this when I did my first large project, the tip bot, and it had issues which could've led to loss of funds if they weren't reported to me. Despite being excited and trying to do my best, I could've hurt other people, and that's not okay.

How did you initially build trust with your clients / the community?

When I moved to working on my own cryptocurrency, I still wasn't ready at all. I didn't know how other protocols worked beyond the highest level of basic concepts. The difference was this time I knew I wasn't ready, and I kept iterating. I learned each section as I built it, in what effectively was a multi-year study, noting issues as I could, noting what wasn't good enough, and rebuilding what I needed to. I ended up not deploying it, knowing it still wasn't ready after all that time, yet deciding it was better for me to move on than continue. Now, I feel confident in my knowledge of cryptocurrency, and ready to contribute properly. While I don't believe everyone can/should do such a involved project, I will maintain experience is the best teacher, yet the best thing to know is when something isn't ready. I'll also state the importance of comprehensive testing, not to mention review, to confirm if something is ready.

What advice would you give to people that want to do the same?

I'd recommend first learning how to program if you haven't already, likely with Javascript (specifically, NodeJS). It's one of the simpler languages to learn while being widely used in general, and extensively used within cryptocurrency. From there... it depends on what you want to do. I'd recommend starting small, building things around existing projects. Perhaps an app when you can enter someone's address, getting their balance (or balances, if working with tokens). Understanding how data moves around cryptocurrency is key. A tip bot, which I recommend you don't deploy, is a great demonstration of how to send and receive funds as well. Small projects, each giving you a bit more hands on experience.

You can follow Luke on twitter and github