It was a great day with series of thoughts in my head. I see curious minds engaged in a deep conversation about how they are working on different technologies, helping out others when stuck, having energy drinks to prevent themselves from dozing off and straining their heads and eyes on the screen. I was in a hackathon with my teammate, who was attending such an event for the first time. I’ve participated in several hackathons and I feel it is my job to pass on my knowledge to the ones who are clueless about this. I’m sure there are so many students who do not know much about it, so let me make you aware of hackathons and why you should participate in one.
So, what is Hackathon?
Hackathon is an event which, generally, persists for 24 hours. But this may vary from organizers to organizers. This event is not just about coding, but also about exploring some new technologies and network with some genius minds around. At some hackathons, you’re not allowed to lobby around, but in many places it is encouraged to interact with the other techies and learn from their experiences. I’ve been to both types of hackathon and the amount of knowledge I’ve received would surely help me and everyone in professional lives.
What do we do at Hackathon?
From the problem statements you’ll be provided, you’ve to choose one and build a whole new application. At some places, they declare a theme (like blockchain, in my last hackathon) around which you’ve to make a brand new application, which will help the humankind one way or the other. Judges come and go time to time to see the progress of each and every participants and give their insights about the project. Before you enter the arena, you should be aware of the facts like:
- Will they declare problem statements before reaching to the venue in some portal? If they will, then they give some relaxation for you to ready a portion of your application beforehand. But remember it should be only some part and not the whole application to be prepared before you enter the coding arena.
- Do they have some other events alongside, like startup pitch? It is a great opportunity for techies to boost up their profile and give a shot if they have any great idea in their mind!
- Will they be providing food and beverages? Mostly they do, but at some places, you need to carry your own snacks.
- What are the prizes for the winners? It may be cash, course discount voucher, a job offer or anything which may be of your interest.
- What is their evaluation process? They always have some standard procedure of evaluating a project, like how well the idea is defined, how is it going to improve the lives of common people, are the participants courageous enough to incorporate some on-time changes and more.
- What all accessories are they going to provide you? Carry all the equipment you require, like a laptop, charger, headphones, notepads, extension chord, dongle etc.
You do not need to be great at coding to participate in hackathons. Your innovative idea, approach to solving complex problems and how you interpret a given problem statement and get the essence out of it strongly counts. So for any newcomer who wants to participate, coding surely is an important aspect but not the ultimate requirement. Some more important tips are:
- It is advisable for you to carry your résumé when you’re going for a hackathon organized by a company as it is an amazing opportunity to interact with the organizers and other techies. Show-off your skills and pass on your résumé for future career prospects.
- Learn some new technologies beforehand which you think will be helpful for your application. Try to focus on building a useful, user-friendly, innovative application which would be easy for every sect of people to use it.
- Take breaks in between. It is not possible for most to keep coding for the whole duration without rest. So take short breaks, roam around (if allowed), take small naps, eat something healthy and get back to work.
- Make sure you explain the motivation of your application to the reviewers, they want to see as in what way your application is different and unique from others.
- Participate in small fun activities if they organize, really helps to keep the dizziness at bay and have some extra fun.
- If a reviewer gives you some tips or directs you to improvise some modules in your project, it is advisable you look into it and do the necessary changes as they might evaluate you on that ground as well.
- Keep your idea simple yet effective. Understand the problem statement and relate it to the real world scenario.
- Do not leave your project halfway. Complete it and prove your capabilities.
- If it is allowed to use the internet, look out for some help to fix the bugs if encountered. Check if any other functionalities incorporated would help your project to reach out to the masses.
Discuss with the evaluators for what are they exactly looking for. Build it small but make sure you cover all basic aspects and present it beautifully. At last, do not strain yourself. Your health is more important than anything. So learn, think, keep calm and code!