Hackathons are energy-driven, sprint-like events where people with different backgrounds, skills, and professions explore new ideas and offer innovative solutions to existing problems. These events typically last two to three days long, where participants work in teams to come up with groundbreaking solutions using programming. These hackathons benefit participants by helping them develop their soft skills, forge new friendships, network to create valuable relationships with industry professionals, and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Many platforms and websites list hundreds of hackathons on diverse topics such as IT, society, and climate. Some of these are:
- Major League Hacking (MLH) – It’s a student hackathon league to empower the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.
- Hackathon.io – It’s another powerful website that helps interested individuals find the perfect hackathon. It also offers a networking feature, which participants can use to connect, make teams, and build valuable relationships.
- ·Social Media – Social media channels, notably Facebook and LinkedIn, are also at the forefront of providing details about different hackathons.
Tips For Acing a Hackathon
While hackathons present an exciting opportunity to many, they’re also highly competitive. Many individuals feel overwhelmed by the experience and end up either leaving the hackathon or working half-heartedly. Given below are some tips that can help you shine in your next hackathon and realize your true potential.
Build an Extraordinary Team
The success of your demo depends mainly on your team’s involvement in the project and their skillset. Suppose you have a chance to choose your teammates yourself. In that case, you should try to work with people who you’ve had the opportunity to work with before. Alternatively, you can get to know them by working on smaller projects before the hackathon. Teammates should also have diverse skills such as graphic designing, from-end development, business advancement, etc. You should also consider upping your own skillset; for example, you might opt to learn DevOps online or strengthen your knowledge in a particular language.
Prepare in Advance
There are many you can prepare for in advance. You can create a presentation on PowerPoint, outlining the methodology and elaborating on the prototype’s real-world application. This can save you a lot of time down the road when you quickly need to present your idea in layman terms. It can also be an excellent medium to communicate with your team and ensure they are on the same page as you. You can also prepare beforehand for other things, such as which technology you’ll work with and the programming language you’ll use, which can save precious time on hack day.
Take Regular Breaks
While it sure sounds tempting to work round the clock on your prototype, it is vital to take regular breaks. Short breaks can offer a new perspective and improve productivity, which can make a striking difference in the quality of your final project. A good way of utilizing these breaks is to network with other people and build valuable relationships that can be useful down the road.
Track Your Progress
Hackathons can turn messy quickly, and you can end up with an incomplete project which is missing a vital component. Track your project’s progress regularly (at the end of each day) so that you and your teammates know where you stand and what work needs to be completed.
Communication is King
Communicating clearly with your teammates and setting expectations is crucial. This can mean the difference between winning and losing. Meet regularly on every big and small matter and encourage teammates to ask many questions. For example, one team member can take the responsibility of being a facilitator and make the communication process smoother.
Create A Strong Value Proposition
Avoid focusing too much on the technical side and strike a balance between a real-life problem you are hacking and its programming-oriented solution. It is crucial to create a value proposition for your prototype which focuses not only on its technical aspect but also its usefulness to ordinary people. It is better to have a decent demo with a clear presentation highlighting its benefits rather than a flashy project and a poor presentation.
Hackathons are a great way to learn new skills, polish the existing ones, and look at things with a fresh perspective. They can add value to your resume and help you become confident and proficient in a new skill quickly. Staying confident and focused on the problem and communicating clearly with your teammates is essential to winning the hackathon. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun and create memories, as they are equally crucial for your growth.