I had hackathons all wrong! Here’s what I’ve learned about them and advice for your first one.
I know it’s not just me who thought hackathons were a bunch of people sitting around non-ethically hacking into websites, systems, and all of the things?
Turns out, that’s wrong!
What’s a hackathon? Here’s the actual definition*:
hack·a·thon | /ˈhakəˌTHän/ | noun INFORMAL
an event in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming
1. “a series of 48-hour hackathons to build new web and mobile services”
*Definition from Oxford Languages
What I learned about hackathons:
- There are some beginner-friendly hackathons like the ones held by TechTogether that have workshops that teach you how to code and build your project
- You’re not coding for 24+ hours straight (*generally*), there are workshops and activities to attend to learn, meet other participants, and network with recruiters
- Building a project is sometimes optional, you can choose to attend just for the workshops and community aspect
- There are sometimes non-code options for hackathon attendees
Advice for first-time hackers:
- Make sure you’ve read and understood the rules before registering
- Make sure to check the time zone for the hackathon and add hackathon events, activities, and workshops to the appropriate time slots in your calendar
- Set reminders for the events, activities, and workshops you 100% don’t want to miss
- Come with an open mind. Participate in activities and attend workshops, even if you know what’s being presented
- Network as much as possible! Network with the hackathon organizers, other participants, and recruiters from the sponsors of the hackathon
- Pro-tip — Write a little blurb about yourself and what you’re learning, and include your social links. Copy and paste this into some of the virtual chats and introduction channels
- Use a project management tool to organize what’s needed for your project on the first day, before you start any coding/designing
- Learn what is needed for submitting your hack
Have you ever participated in a hackathon or thought about it? Let me know in the comments.
Credit: Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels