ALUMNI PROFILE: ELLIOT FRIEDMAN, BLOCKCHAIN PROGRAM DIRECTOR @ THE DEN

Elliot Friedman

AGE: 21
INTERESTS: I am very interested in blockchain, smart contracts and decentralized applications (which are smart contracts packaged up with a nice UI).

Tell us more about where you are from and what shaped you:

I was born in San Francisco. When I was really young we moved to Austin. After that, we moved to LA when I was in 7th grade. I definitely liked video games and I really liked puzzles. What left an impact were my high school years when I started to discover blockchain technology.  I wasn’t aware of what it could do at the time, but ever since then, I have been building on that knowledge base. I was intrigued by how it can be used for money.

What did you do before 42?

Before I came to 42 I was doing drone video production work. I was flying for music videos, tv shows, and movies. There were some friends who were flying drones and I went with them when they were flying during shoots. Remote control stuff, like RC cars, was something I was always into. I was like, “wow I can make money flying drones.” The market then became very saturated, anyone can essentially buy a drone, the barrier to entry is low. I got my licenses and was legit, and there were people who didn’t get their licenses and that influenced the market.

Did you have any programming experience before 42?

I had done an online tutorial in java.I also did some programming at a local college but the teacher was so horrible I ended up dropping out. A friend told me about 42, how there is a free coding school and how it is so much better than the class I was in. I dropped that class and came to 42 a month after that. I do not regret my decision at all.

What did you like best about your 42 experience?

I think it would have to be the piscine, and the PHP piscine I did about web development. You just get back to where you came from, which is knowing nothing. You have to be lost and go find out what you are doing by stumbling around and making a lot of mistakes. I think the piscine was the best part of 42 because you are really motivated to get into this place. I was coding 14 hours a day and completely disregarding my normal life.

Is there anything that you do now at work that you don’t think would come as easily if you hadn’t attended 42?

Learning how to learn. It is important to know how to figure things out without someone holding your hand. At The DEN we are teaching the essentials about blockchain and smart contract development and they generally move so fast. One year regular time is 20 years in blockchain time because so much happens in a year.  A month ago the newest version of Solidity came out and I essentially had to learn the new version of that language. It is always changing, every month or so there is a new language, library or token standard. You want to stay up with it to provide the most up-to-date information.

How did you get your foot in the door where you work?

So The DEN actually came to 42 and did some presentations. They let me know they were teaching people how to develop in this framework. I told them I wanted to learn, and that is how I got my foot in the door. That is something great that 42 provides. Although they don’t do direct job placement they bring in employers who want to hire and they introduce you to people who may know about available jobs.

Describe what you do at The DEN:

I am responsible for maintaining all curriculum, keeping it up-to-date and making new courses that involve blockchain. I am essentially the person who needs to go in and find all of the technical knowledge, package it in a way that is interesting and engaging and make it so it helps you learn new skills.

What does your typical workday look like?

A typical day starts around 11 am at the office. I will go and research something at night and integrate something new in the curriculum. The other day I was researching opcodes and seeing how they work and figuring out how I want to integrate that into the curriculum. Most of the day involves looking at different chunks of code, writing code, and at the end of the day, we will have a meetup. The meetup will start at 7 pm and end at 9 pm. At the meetup, I will present about bitcoin, etherium, smart contracts, and cryptography. I get a lot more done at night, little fixes will come up during the day. When you are coding or writing any code you need to get into a mindset where you are focusing on that and that alone. When I have more people around me I focus less because they break that train of thought.

Would you recommend the 42 program and if so, why?

Yes, I would definitely recommend the 42 program to anyone who wants a job as a coder or who wants to get into the tech industry.  Essentially you learn the skills you need to get your foot in the door. You learn a lot of things about data structures and algorithms and how the CPU works because you program in C.

Do you have any advice for 42 students when it comes to securing an internship or job?

I would say specialize in something. After you finish the first few projects go and figure out what kind of software you want to write and what industry you want to go into and go do that. The people I have seen at 42 who have done the best, they learn a lot of good stuff in C and they go and take what they learned from C and apply it to other languages and frameworks. I would say branch out as soon as you can. If you want to be a web developer go to level 5 or 7 and specialize in a skill. Eventually, take the PHP piscine and go up the web branch. After that you will have a good understanding of web development and someone will be happy to pay you a web developer salary provided you can ace the technical interview. Definitely learn data structures and algorithms, treat exams like a mandatory thing, find ways to solve these problems in an efficient manner as these are the questions you will be asked in interviews.

Connect with Elliot on LinkedIn

Photos by 42’s in-house photographer, Priscilla Vongdara

Interview by: Stacey Faucett
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