Lessons I learned from doing Hackathons

I participate in 3 day hackathons which are spread across multiple groups and we compete with each other.


According to Techopedia.com, a hackathon is a gathering where programmers collaboratively code in an extreme manner over a short period of time. Hackathons are at least a few days – or over a weekend – and generally no longer than a week. While working on a particular project, the idea is for each developer to have the ability and freedom to work on whatever he/she wants.


Although that’s a common definition, it’s not always all about coding.


Here are my key takeaways from hackathons:


It doesn’t matter how much you know about coding … You can still add value.

There are women who are very developers, some are non-tech as well as 1st time participants. But everyone seem to find their strength and showcase it.


If you have an idea… present it… it won’t hurt

It’s just an idea. You might as well share it. Out of the many ideas that are shared, I don’t think any of them receive zero votes. They are all very interesting concepts. I even pitch one of my ideas. I don't plan to say anything but we all have ideas regarding problems that we’d like to solve. When I share my ideas, I receive a lot of encouragement and cheers and suggestions from my fellow mates


Ask questions… a lot of questions…. about anything.

The one thing about asking questions is that it helps the person asking as well as the person answering. You have to be able to ask questions to keep your team on track and you also have to be able to respond to questions especially if it’s being asked by a reviewer.


Celebrate your small victories

This is huge. Many times you are heads down, Googling, trying new code or trying to learn GIT commands for the nth time but when that one line of code just magically works….it’s important to just celebrate. It’s really confirmation that you CAN do this!!!


Here’s a chance to do something you aren’t generally doing on a regular basis

I haven’t worked on a group project since I left job back in 2014. My current position is primarily as an individual contributor in the projects I work on. The hackathon experience are so refreshing to be able to work in a small group, of women at that! We all have so much to contribute. The willingness to help each other learn and perfect skills was amazing to me.


Don’t give up. If your idea doesn’t place in the top 3, that only means you’ve got more work to do to perfect your idea.

What is so great about these hackathons is that after the top winners are announced, the reviewer actually takes the time to answer questions from the remaining teams. He provides feedback on obstacles, ways to improve, alternate direction and just advice.


Eat, take breaks, laugh, sing, dance… whatever you need to do to be an asset to your team.

Self-care is a big necessity. Although the hackathons are intense my teammates and I definitely take the time to take care of ourselves even if we have to nudge one another.


I just want to thank all the groups for coming together every time and putting outstanding events for hackathons.

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