This is an opinion piece by Eric Podwojski, account manager at Bitcoin Magazine.
December 2019 — I was sitting in my manager’s office preparing to discuss a possible promotion, a year-end bonus, and a pay rise. At the time, I was almost two years out of college in my first high-paying job outside of school. I was working as a civil engineer designing gas pipelines outside Washington, DC
My manager at the time was a highly respected professional engineer with over 15 years of experience. He slipped me a torn piece of yellow paper at the start of the meeting that said “8.2% + $500 + Senior Design Engineer”. It was my reward for nearly two years of hard work and dedication with this engineering firm. I wanted to shout in his face but decided to calmly explain how a typical salary increase for a promotion is 10-20%, inflation is at least 2% per year and the bonus is appreciated but not significant. His response was “meh,” and I left that meeting realizing that this system I’ve played all my life was designed to hold me back. I was ready to change that.
Before I get into bitcoin and the path to changing the situation I found myself in by following the traditional American system, I’ll give you a picture of how I was brought up in the system.
I grew up in a suburban, mostly white, middle to upper class neighborhood. I have 2 loving parents who have always been there for me to drive me to sporting events and gave me everything I asked for. I attended one of the best public school systems in the state and got the top 10% in my class. The system I grew up in treated me very well so I never thought about the downsides. I was accepted to Penn State University where I chose to study engineering from 2014.
From 2014 to 2018, I worked hard to obtain a bachelor’s degree in energy engineering. I also joined a fraternity and partied nonstop. I even joined a few clubs including the Blockchain Club (the motivation that persuaded me to buy bitcoin for the first time). Again, I was following the path the system gave me because it treated me so well.
Fresh out of school in 2018, I landed a job in an engineering firm as a design engineer. The salary was nothing like what I had ever experienced before. I was pumped! Over the years, I began to think about the path this work would take me. The company has made career progression very clear. About every 2 years you would get a promotion with a raise in the hope of moving up the corporate ladder to a VP position in 20+ years. Sounds good in theory, but I also knew from a former engineering mentor that once an engineer starts earning too high a salary, the company usually fires them and replaces them with a cheaper, younger engineer. As I was attending my first promotion meeting, this thought came to mind. I knew that the system I was participating in did not have my best interest in mind.
To liberate oneself
In 2020, I started to self-educate myself more in personal finance. I learned that reported CPI inflation is not necessarily correct and actual inflation was likely higher, especially as the US government began flooding the monetary system with trillions of dollars to coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. I learned that no matter how well I performed in my engineering job, I would not outrun inflation. I would live a life collecting new titles without being paid the amount needed to live a significantly better life.
Fast forward to early 2021, Bitcoin price is beginning to break out of a bear market. I had been investing in Bitcoin since 2017, so at this point I had a decent sized stack. As my net worth grew in dollars, I took a snowboarding trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This week in nature helped me clarify my thoughts on my professional career. When I returned from this trip, I immediately devoted my two weeks to my work as an engineer.
In a state of immediate action and focus, I completely immersed myself in Bitcoin with the intention of changing careers to this exciting new industry. I already knew the basics of bitcoin and economics at this point, but I dove further down the rabbit hole. I educated others about bitcoin to clarify my own understanding while networking with everyone possible in the bitcoin space. I eventually applied to a few Bitcoin companies and landed a role on the Bitcoin Magazine business team.
how you can break free
Breaking free from the system I’ve been part of all my life was the best decision I’ve ever made. Here’s how I did it with a guide on how you can too.
Step 1. I saved a lot of money.
The very first thing to do is find out exactly how much your monthly expenses are. Then save enough cash or bitcoins to live on for at least the next 6 months if you had no income. I personally had over 12 months of savings that kept me safe.
Step 2. I took the plunge and quit my job.
Once you have enough savings, the next step is to strategically decide when to quit your fiduciary job. You can work on bitcoin projects while working your fiat job. You can even apply for bitcoin business jobs while working your fiat job. Personally, I found it easier to get started and immerse myself in bitcoin by quitting my fiat job first.
Step 3. I created Bitcoin educational content.
A pillar of the Bitcoin protocol is proof of work. If you want to work for a Bitcoin company alongside other amazing Bitcoiners, you have to prove that you are worth hiring. If you don’t know how to code, proof of work can come in the form of starting a podcast, newsletter, Youtube show, etc. Something for Bitcoin.
Step 4. I networked.
While you prove your work for the Bitcoin network, do something for your personal network. Get on Bitcoin Twitter, Telegram group chats, attend in-person meetups and conferences such as the Bitcoin Conference. Send other thoughtful DMs to other Bitcoiners. Lend your free time to help people. I have found that Bitcoiners are very willing to give back if you are genuine.
Step 5. I applied to Bitcoin magazine.
These days, there are job boards dedicated to hiring Bitcoin talent. Keep an eye on job boards and apply for any position that piques your interest. It doesn’t have to be the ideal solution, as you can usually move into a company or use it as a stepping stone to a future Bitcoin job. I recommend using BitcoinerJobs.com to find vacancies with top Bitcoin companies.
Step 6. I followed the hiring managers relentlessly.
Once you’ve applied for a position, find the company’s hiring managers on social media and reach out to them. Starting a conversation with hiring managers immediately puts your resume at the top of the pile. Here is a screenshot of my conversation with CK – CEO of Bitcoin Magazine as an example. Note that I have established a prior relationship with CK so he knows I was worth recommending.
I hope this article has helped open your eyes to the system you live in and provided proof that there is a way to break free. I plan to continue developing Bitcoin through Bitcoin Magazine and my own personal Bitcoin educational content for others. Now is your chance to break free from the system to work in a fun and fulfilling emerging industry. Your life can be dramatically different if you start taking action now!
This is a guest post by Eric Podwojski. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.