Designing Blockchain Protocols as a Tech Intern

Designing Blockchain Protocols as a Tech Intern

Blockchain is a hot and exciting field where Tech Interns thrive! We connected Brendan with MIR Protocol. A startup that allows the creation of zero-knowledge proofs to scale blockchains.

Brendan is currently in his senior year studying BS Computer Science at the University of Alberta. His experiences include working on an Environmental Sensor Prototype, BetaCityYEG Pedestrian Counter, and other open-source projects like rust-analyzer and OpenRA.

Internship Experiences

  • What did you work on over the course of your internship?

Brendan was not confined to a single type of task, rather he worked on a variety of areas of the project. Generally, he was in charge of designing pieces of the client (node software); including testing and implementation. Furthermore, Brendan needed to be adaptable and flexible since the company does not utilize a specific tech stack, it all depends on what is needed by the circumstances.

  • What was unique about the company and role?

According to Brendan, having the opportunity to design a blockchain was already unique in itself and something that can be viewed as special. His initial perception of internships is that generally you don’t take on tasks with a high amount of responsibility, and, often, an intern’s focus is solely on areas like creating tests. Hence, being assigned to serious design work was not something that he expected.

  • What did the company do to mentor and support you during the internship?

Brendan had little to no experience with mathy crypto theory prior to the internship, but the company devoted a good amount of time to help him grasp the theories. This included whiteboard meetings, papers to read, just general chatting back and forth until he understood some concept. When he started doing actual implementation work, the learning came more from the back-and-forth from PRs. The knowledge he gained from the mentorship greatly helped him during the actual implementation work. Despite that, Brendan still found the work environment chill and extremely relaxed.

In Brendan’s words, “ was incredibly useful as a low-effort way to apply for a high number of (very interesting!) internships.” It is also important to note that prior to working with the company, he was not sure how much he would enjoy working in the industry.

Internship Advice

  • Do you have any tips/advice for tech resumes?

Brendan said that, in general, it is vital that software projects that you have pursued on your own time be visible on your resume. According to him, contributing to some public projects is also a plus since stuff like these on a resume is clear proof that the person is interested in their field of work and is an easy flag that will help you stand out.

  • Do you have any tips/advice for tech interviews? What was your interview process like?

He always believed that for interviews, it is best to just relax and be yourself. If you find that you get along and are fairly relaxed, then that is probably how working with the company will feel as well.

  • What are you looking for in an internship? What did you gain?

Brendan said that this might come out as super cliche, but a job that he looks forward to getting up every morning and working on. Luckily, this is what he found when he got connected with MIR Protocol. A bonus is that he learned a ton with crypto theory in general, something that is difficult to pick up on your own.

  • Do you have tips for future interns? (Making the most of the internship, networking, learning curves, etc)

Internships are an awesome litmus test to see if you like different areas of any field you are working in. They can be used as tools to narrow down choices and find your specific area of interest. Since they are generally only available when you're an undergrad, these are worthwhile resources that should be taken advantage of.

Brendan added that interns should have realistic expectations. Do not expect to contribute on day 1 since you will need a good amount of time to acquaint yourself with the technology that you are working with. Having said that, if the company is somewhat decent, you should not worry about being unskilled coming in. After all, you are an intern and they should know you will need some extra time to be brought up to speed.


  • Brendan was in charge of designing pieces of the blockchain protocol for MIR Protocol: A blockchain startup that allows the creation of zero-knowledge proofs to scale blockchains.
  • Brendan had little to no experience with mathy crypto theory prior to the internship, but the company willingly helped him grasp the theories so he could be brought up to speed.
  • Interns of blockchain startups are not limited to minor tasks like fixing bugs and creating tests. They are also given the opportunity to work on and make changes to the entire blockchain protocol.
  • Look for a job that will make you feel excited to get up every morning and start working.

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