A hackathon is a social event where professionals work intensively on a project. It usually takes place within a short time – about 24 – 48 hours. A hackathon can be said to be a marathon but for hackers.
In this case, the word ‘hacker’ does not refer to evil technical geniuses trying to breach an organization’s cybersecurity defenses. Instead, ‘hacker’ refers to a skilled tech professional working hard to solve a problem or create a new product.
Hackathons are not exclusive to tech companies today, as professionals in other fields now organize hackathons for different reasons. Some of the reasons why companies organize hackathons include the following:
- To create brand awareness
- To find new talents and potential employees
- To create new products
- To find a solution to an existing problem
- To promote interpersonal relationships between their employees
Famous Products That Were Born From Hackathons
The very first hackathon was the OpenBSD hackathon that was held in Calgary in June 1999. Ten developers were in attendance, and the purpose of the hackathon was to find a way to avoid some legal problems the company was facing.
Many hackathon events have been held since then, and some gave rise to some startups and products that changed the world.
Some examples of famous products that were created at hackathons are:
Twitter was created by two friends at an Odeo hackathon. It is a social media app where people can send texts and upload short messages called ‘tweets.’ Twitter is now a huge corporation that has offices in various locations all over the world.
Some Facebook Apps
Facebook, now Meta, has held a lot of hackathons in the past that led to the development of some of its most loved features. For example, the Facebook-like button is a product of an internal hackathon held by the company.
Zapier is an application that you can use to automate your workflow without the presence of a developer. You don’t need to know how to code to use this app. It was born at a Startup Weekend hackathon. Zapier has proven to be a helpful tool for saving time while working.
Types Of Hackathons
Just as hackathons are held for various reasons, there are also many different types of hackathons.
Some of them are:
In an online hackathon, the participants are physically present in a different geographic location. The event is then held over social media apps and tools like Slack, Skype, or Zoom.
Hackathons For A Specific Demographic
Sometimes, hackathons are held only for people who fall in a demographic to participate. It could be a hackathon for women, teenagers, or people of a particular ethnicity. This type of hackathon is held to encourage the participants and promote interest in the cause among those of that demographic.
Any organization can hold an external hackathon, and it is open to people worldwide. The organizers will set a list of criteria to be met by intending participants before they qualify to participate in this event. It is a way of searching for new talent and ideas.
Companies hold internal hackathons exclusively for their employees. This could encourage cooperation and team spirit among their employees.
How Hackathons Help In Career Growth
As an individual who is interested in growing in the field of technology or any other industry, participating in hackathons can be a good strategy for growing your career.
Here are some things you can gain when you participate in hackathons:
You start getting recognized when you participate in hackathon events organized by brands and big names in your industry. At these events, participants usually get to pitch their ideas and finished products in front of judges and sponsors. This is an excellent way to get noticed.
There could be people who love your ideas and could reach out to you later to ask you to develop them with their companies.
Also, winning in a hackathon event is a better way to get sponsors and people interested in your products and ideas than looking for sponsors on your own.
A typical hackathon schedule has a networking segment at the end of the program, where people can meet other people and discuss and make new connections.
Different people from all over the world participate in hackathon events. You get to meet these people and form teams with those who share similar ideas and thought processes.
Hackathon events can be an excellent place to make connections that could lead to enormous opportunities for your career.
Hackathon events are an excellent place to learn both hard and soft skills. You learn soft skills such as teamwork, communication, and leadership. It is possible to gain these skills from working with total strangers.
You also learn technical skills such as new work techniques and project management skills. These are all skills anybody hoping to have a flourishing career should possess.
It Increases Your Drive
Seeing people in the same field as you come together to show their skills and technical prowess is a good motivation for you. It will drive you to work harder and do better at advancing in your own field.
Motivation is a significant driving factor that can lead to breakthroughs, and you create your own groundbreaking projects.
How To Prepare For A Hackathon
Now that you know what a hackathon is and how it can be helpful in your career growth, you might decide to participate in one. Here are some things you need to do before attending a hackathon event:
- Research hackathon events near and in your field. To do this, you can use hackathon software or online platforms that contain information about upcoming events.
- Make sure you meet the criteria for the event you apply to. It might be a way of putting yourself out there if you use it for events you need to be qualified for, but there are better practices than this one.
- Try to be physically and mentally fit for the event. A hackathon is usually a rigorous event that occurs for a short time. Sometimes, participants don’t get any sleep from start to finish. Ensuring that you are fit to participate in such a tasking event is essential.
- After you meet the set criteria, you can apply to events you are interested in. Hackathon organizers sometimes reward the teams with the best products in their events. You can choose to use these competitions if that is what you want.
A hackathon is an event where professionals work hard on a task. It is a 24 – 48-hour event, and a new product is usually created.
Hackathons can be an excellent place to start for people looking to grow in their careers. Participating in these events allows you to meet potential partners and gain industry recognition. It also serves as a form of motivation when you see how much other people in your field have to offer.