If you think hackathons are just for experienced coders, think again.
Hackathons, known for their intense and condensed time frame, bring together people from diverse backgrounds to solve a problem, usually in less than 24 hours.
Everyone is welcome (bring a team or come solo and join a team at the event). Everyone has something to offer and something to learn.
But here’s an often-overlooked benefit: The opportunity to meet new people and network.
Hackathons didn’t exist when I was in college, and as a supporter I see the reason these are so popular: Solving a problem is one element. The other is forming working relationships, fast, that tap into the unique skills of each participant.
A Job Interview … But Better
Universities are known for their hackathons and now companies are catching on. Here’s why: As a sponsor, this is one of the best ways to introduce your company, culture and brand to people who either want to get to know you, or have no idea who you are, but you want to meet them.
Four Reasons to Do a Hackathon
Hackathons are about generating ideas (and writing code) to solve real-world problems. And even in such a short timeframe, it’s:
- A fairly relaxed and friendly atmosphere as people work through ideas.
- An opening to get first-hand experience in an industry and a glimpse into what a company does.
- A chance to contribute to something that matters.
- Your opportunity to see if what a company offers fits your professional career goals and personal work style.
Five Tips for Succeeding At a Hackathon
No matter what draws someone to an event, there are a few ways to ensure that everyone gets something out of it – whether that’s networking with people who love to write code, cool prizes, or a job opportunity.
- Bring your skills. If you know something others don’t (like how to write an iOS app), that’s your chance to share and shine. And if you don’t know something, be a quick study and learn as fast as you can from others.
- Enjoy the time – it goes fast. For a lot of people, it doesn’t matter if they finish the hack; they are there for the experience. Be open to learning and not just winning.
- Be organized. A big part of the event is time management. Few jobs will require this super accelerated pace; imagine what you’re showing to a future employer – if you can handle this, you can handle anything.
- Do your homework. Challenges are loosely posted before the event so you can prepare. Know the company that’s sponsoring – what they do, where they operate, who they serve.
- Make friends. You’ll meet new people who might be an important part of your future career.