A hackathon is like a two-day coding party where everyone is invited! And there are lots of cool reasons why you should join the next one in your area.
You don’t have to do a hackathon alone. A typical day at a hackathon starts with a “speed dating” session, which will help you find the ideal team to survive the madness of a hackathon. Everyone in the room is trying to form as diverse of a team as possible, composed of: entrepreneurs, developers, designers or even “hackers” ⎯one who can do it all.
When you go into a hackathon, keep in mind your own skills, not just what you’re good at, but what you enjoy doing.
A successful project needs not only efficient teamwork, but conflict resolution, as well as time management.
Once you find the right team, next phase is brainstorming. The energy is exhilarating as everyone is trying to come up with a unique idea that will make two days of hacking worth it.
Working with people from different backgrounds and company cultures exposes you to different ways of working. It is an amazing opportunity to explore new technologies, tools, methodologies that you can take back to your day job. For instance, if my day job is a Software Developer, I might do a hardware hack.
When you allocate the workload, communication becomes critical! You need to develop a minimalistic product, which would be good enough to convey your idea and can be prototyped in the limited time frame.
As a result of brainstorming, you’ll probably have a vague architecture and requirements. The next challenge is to pick technology and tools that everyone is comfortable with. The bonus here is that it gives you an opportunity to learn some new language, tools and get out of your comfort zone.
Then you must manage your time well! You’ll get even more time management practice with lightning talks/presentations.
Once you are done battling the deadline and getting version one out, you realize you have a few minutes to prepare a presentation⎯that means demoing your work. Most of the time you’ll have a limited amount of time to squeeze in the gist of the problem you are trying to solve⎯which needs to appeal to judges and audience⎯and also to showcase the application or prototype you have built.
This gives you an opportunity to practice public speaking.
Once the demos are over, the exciting wait for the results begins. This is the time for happy hour. Between the demo and results being announced, most hackathons have a networking session where you meet people. You can also go and talk with the other participants, particularly those who have implemented something that interests you. It’s also the perfect time to find partners for the next hackathon, next side project, coding dojo, or maybe even a business opportunity.
Finally, the judges announce their decisions. Ideally, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, as you get to experience the entire process of transforming an idea to application, then getting to pitch the same.
Fun Time and Cool Prizes
However, if you win, you also win lots of cool prizes like cash, brand new gadgets, laptops, tablets, and much more. Apart from prizes, hackathon hosts usually give away swag, raffle prizes, food, and generally some really cool ideas.
So yes, you should make plans to attend the next hackathon in your area. It really is a two-day long coding party where everyone is invited.