Many big corporations today organize hackathons to accomplish everything from R&D to talent retention. Back in the day, hackathon events were mostly organized by tech corporations, but today they are no longer exclusive to coders.
According to the Harvard Business Review, several companies outside the tech world are using these brainstorming sessions to create new ideas. They focus on everything from supply chain management to culture change.
This overflow of different industries into the hackathon scene can make you wonder, do coding hackathons contribute unique opportunities for industries?
The answer is yes, they do! Hackathons boost innovation, creativity, productivity, and inspiration in every industry. They provide a platform for diverse groups of people to analyze ideas from different perspectives and bring entirely new products to life. In addition, they encourage healthy competition between employees who take part in the event.
As you can see, everyone gets to benefit from hackathons. So, in this article, I’ll discuss everything you stand to gain from coding hackathons and then show you how to prepare for an event if you’ve never participated before.
Let’s get started.
Unique Opportunities Created By Hackathon Platforms.
- Networking opportunities
Hackathons present a unique platform for industry professionals to network and collaborate on fresh ideas. Most companies hold internal hackathons so you don’t get to meet new people. However, it will give employees the opportunity to form new relationships with people in the same company and foster collaboration between departments.
On the other hand, external hackathons support collaborations with professionals outside your company. As a result, you get to grow your professional network. Whichever types of coding hackathons you attend, whether an online hackathon or virtual hackathon, you increase your chances of networking.
- Chances to develop new skills
Hackathons allow programmers to develop new skills by learning from each other. During the events, you may experience new coding languages and techniques, fresh industry tools, and leadership skills.
Taking part in hackathons will help increase your knowledge as a programmer and expand your skill set in a short period. Additionally, working with other programmers and companies can also teach you about unknown skills in your industry to help you choose a career path.
- You will gain industry recognition
A hackathon platform brings all kinds of people in an industry together; therefore, it helps you or your team get noticed. Such recognition can help open employment opportunities, new business ventures or simply foster new relationships with other professionals. As you continue gaining industry recognition, you establish yourself as an expert in the field.
- Increase motivation
Participating in a hackathon will get you motivated and increase your passion for your work. Setting a goal and then accomplishing it in a limited time often makes people feel more confident in their programming skills.
Industry experts may also provide professional feedback about your work and motivate you to take on more advanced challenges. Together with the competitive environment, these factors will boost your morale to code and encourage you to pursue more projects.
Who Can Participate in a Hackathon?
Hackathons usually include individuals of all skill levels, even those who are new to programming or the industry itself. If you’re completely new, you can participate in the events as an observer to learn how development teams work together. Observation is an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants to venture into programming but doesn’t know what the work involves.
How to Prepare for Hackathon Events
- Set goals
Before taking part in a hackathon, you must first know what you want to accomplish and why. Set aside some time for you and your team to think about why you want to participate. Do you just want to add a new code to your portfolio? Are you trying to learn a new programming skill? Are you trying to build an app with an API that you aren’t familiar with?
Whatever the reason, be explicit about your goals so that you can achieve them.
- Research the topic or theme before the event
Hackathons usually have a set topic or theme to guide participants. For instance, the theme may be music-related or sponsored by a specific company. If your goal is to win, do thorough research and brainstorm relevant program or app ideas ahead of time. Ensure that you study the sponsoring company’s API and come prepared with a code base that you can adjust on the fly.
- Assemble your squad
The best thing to do, especially for a first hackathon, is to build a team with people that you like or work well with. The chemistry from a team that knows how to work well together will give you an edge over other teams meeting for the first time during the event.
- Hype your team up
Possessing the technical skills to build a product will only take you so far in a hackathon.
Whether you’re attending the event as a technical or non-technical person, you will need energy and enthusiasm to fuel your team for the duration of the hackathon. In addition, the presentation of your product at the end is crucial to your score, If your team isn’t excited about your idea, you cannot expect to get the judges excited.
- Ensure that you bring all the necessary equipment
Before going to the hackathon, make a list of everything you need to avoid inconveniences. Ensure that you have your laptop charger, headphones, extra USB cables, travel tickets, and hotel reservations if necessary. You don’t want to be that one person in the group who forgets something vital and sets the team back.
- Try and work together as a team
I’ve participated in several hackathons and the one thing I have seen that brings teams down is discord. Some team leaders become disrespectful towards team members, especially when they disagree with their ideas. Such cases cause teams to lose morale and focus, and it often halts progress in executing ideas.
This point brings me back to selecting your team before the hackathon. Ensure that you pick people who work well with others to help you accomplish the goals you set.
The Bottom Line
Hackathon events were initially attributed to tech corporations. However, today, even people outside the tech industry can benefit from the opportunities brought by organizing hackathons.
Hackathons help employees from every industry to network and develop new skills, which they’ll use in the future. They also help both teams and individuals to gain recognition in their specific industry and establish themselves as experts in the field.
Whether you have top-notch programming skills or are still pretty new to the industry, you can participate in a hackathon. Use the opportunities it presents to grow in your industry and help upskill your employees.