Things Hackers don’t tell you about Hackathons
Image courtesy: Fast Company
Every programmer who either uses tabs or spaces, have one thing in common. We all love participating in Hackathons. I am no different. I have attended quite a few hackathons here in India as well as few abroad. Besides that, I have organized a few as well. I have found few things which new hackers are often not aware of. Before diving into it let’s start with the basics.
What everybody knows about hackathons?
They are amazing fun events where tech geeks come together to create something useful. There will be a lot of code, tons of food, no sleep and lots of caffeine.
What do I need to attend Hackathons?
Laptop, charger, headphones and a good idea to create an awesome product.
What will happen at the event location?
A lot of coding, awesome hardware to play with, coffee, good food, etc.
Well, there is more to hackathons beside coding and creating your products. Here is what new or first-time hackers might not know about hackathons.
- Networking is key: Hackathons are the event where you will find like minded passionate people. From developers to investors, you will find all under one roof. Depending on what you want, there is a good chance that you can add some more awesome people in your network. Most of the sponsor companies send their representatives in the events. So it would be a great opportunity to reach out recruiters if you are looking for a new opportunity. Make sure you don’t spend entire time working with your team, take a walk and reach out to people who interest you. At least you will get some new hacker buddies for sure.
- Have a Diverse Team : If you are serious about winning the Hackathon then having a diverse team gives you an edge. Make sure to have some one with decent design skills in your team. It will be handy if you are creating some sort of applications. After all who doesn’t like a good-looking user interface.
- Don’t attend all the talks: Most of the hackathons have a large set of talk happening parallel to the event. You might want to attend one or more talks. Unless those talks are going to help in your hackathon project, try avoiding them. Usually, all the talks get recorded and uploaded on the web so you can listen to them later as well.
- You might get Hungry: All right! You must be thinking how can some one get hungry in Hackathon? After all hackathons are all about lots of food. Usually, there is some fixed time for meals, hence you might feel hungry during other times of the day. Especially if you have a tendency to eat during smaller intervals of time then make sure you keep some snacks with you. It never hurts to have something to eat. PS: Don’t eat too much as well, else you will be sleeping a lot 😜.
- Wear Loose clothes: Hackathons involve longer sitting hours in front of your computer. Hence wearing shorts or PJ’s with a geeky t-shirt is always better than wearing skinny jeans. Hackers love sponsored T-shirts including myself. In case you are like most of us, then go and wear sponsored t-shirts in your next hackathon 😉.
P.S : Most hackathons have their own t-shirts so there is a good chance you will be wearing one of those.
- Take Extension Sockets/Chords: Every hackathon treis to provide best power arrangements. But even after that, you might end up having a faulty socket. Having your own extension in such situations can save you a lot of hassle.
- Help others: At the end of the day, hackathons are a competitive event. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help others outside your team. Your small help might end up in creating long term relations. As they say tech world is very small, so you never know you might end up working with/for them 😉.
- Part of Hacker Community: Hackathons are the event which no one is forcing you to attend. People fly over thousands of miles to attend such events. You will find very passionate and driven hackers around you. People in the community are very helping and you can have long term relationship with them. I got help from such people especially at the time I was organizing my first hackathon. If you are new to the hacker community, you will be amazed by how much knowledge you can gain by attending such events, which schools simply can’t provide.
If you are new to the hackathon environment, hopefully, you will find lots of good experiences along your hacker journey. These are my personal opinions so take them with a grain of salt. Also, some of the above points are only true in certain demography.
Happy Hacking! See you soon at the next hackathon.
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