As soon as the word Hackathon comes, I make sure I give attention. Let's start with answering what Hackathon is; on paper, it's just that you have a limited time, and you have to make a product that fulfills specific criteria by the organizers.
Now a question may arise, then why would I participate in Hackathon when I can make the product in my comfort zone and without any criteria or restrictions?
Well to answer that and many questions which may arise, I am here to make you aware of what potential this Hackathon has! And till the end of the article, make sure that you are ready.
You don’t need any prerequisites here, and that’s the best part of a hackathon you can start your journey in a Hackathon
Let's dive in now
Hackathon-For all the people around the community, no matter if you are a tech or a non-tech guy, it's like a festival, I am still amazed to know that a single event has a different meaning for each single people, it has a different opportunity for each single of us there, and it spares no one, no matter how much experience you have, there will always be something more and new
For a beginner:-It may be a starting kick that needs For an experienced master-It can be an opportunity to get introduced to new technologies and have hands-on and a superb platform to showcase his/her skills and yeah don’t forget the chances of winning too...
Let’s divide how a hackathon WILL be beneficial into three different parts(I am emphasizing WILL because no matter what, you surely will be beneficial in these three aspects)
No matter how much knowledge you have, you are sure to get a different experience in Hackathons for sure, and For many attendees, after every Hackathon experience, they have a more explicit goal and a more straightforward path because at the end of the hackathon, you know what mistakes a person made and also how to rectify them and what more technologies are out there which he/she will be exploring after going back so it’s like the event is for a limited time but it’s after effect is for a much longer time, and this small yet impactful things will help you to grow as a person and as a developer too.
You have the best opportunities to meet like-minded people and the most unexpected people because you could never anticipate whom you will connect with. There can be a founder and CEO roaming around or any investor or anyone. Especially for TIER-2 and TIER-3 colleges, students are not fortunate enough to have one on one talks with them on campus or during placement cells too, here you will build a network and if the person is impressed by you and your personality impactful you don’t even dream of what wonders it can bring. It can also help you learn from others who may have different skill sets and experiences than you, which can help you grow as a person and a professional. Additionally, networking can open up opportunities for mentorship and guidance, which can be especially helpful for those who are just starting their careers. Finally, networking can help you build a support network of like-minded individuals who can provide encouragement and advice as you pursue your goals.
When everyone around you is DEVELOPING, most probably BUIDLING(web3 jargon) around you, then you have this different energy around you which motivates you also to build something, when you have all the like-minded people around its not only stack overflow helping you to solve your code its a whole community there to help you and also to guide you that how you can solve such problems and what can be done to avoid such problems in future and everyone around you is helpful, This is the vibe which I am talking about, you will learn more than any tutorial or course out there, everyone is there to compete with you for the same prizes in the same hackathon still people will help, and the same thing goes around so at the end you have much more in the knowledge bag of yours than anticipated, you don’t feel tired that easily there because there’s a different kind of adrenaline is running inside every one of us for that period. Around you anything anyone can motivate you, A junior to you who is building great projects, you are motivated by him/her, A senior to you is great at managing the whole team you are motivated by this.
The best and worst thing about the above-mentioned topics is same-You can’t share that with anyone
It's the experience that can’t be shared. You have to participate and make that extra effort to come out of your comfort zone, and everyone knows you can’t learn new things in your comfort zone.
Some of my personal experiences, which motivated me to write this article and share with as many people as possible, are shared in the section below.
You may think that hackathon starts, and end on particular exact dates, yes on paper, the event follows that timeline , But it’s not like that, the team formation starts before the starting date, and you meet and network with people during this time too, you will get to know which kind of projects are people thinking of building in the hackathon and how the procedure of making a product is different in a team to team. This can help you to be clear on how to go with your project and which things can help to improve yourself and your team.
If it's an offline hackathon, you will then book your travel and stay, and to make sure that the hackathon doesn’t cost you much, always try to book a stay together which will increase networking also. It will help in keeping your budget low also, and for this, you will then most probably join a group on Discord, Telegram, WhatsApp, or Twitter.
And in the group, everyone will be chatting about the hackathon topic and all, so the excitement and learning phase is started from that time only; just by this, the excitement will increase day by day, and it will help you in your hackathon.
I can go on and on about the advantages of the Hackathon, but I don’t want to bore you.So after all this, one last thing I will say is
" JUST GO "
You just have to make an effort for the first time, and then after that dopamine and Adrenaline mixture you will be addicted and will try not to miss any of such events.
Ok, so after this much, many questions can arise like:
- How to know which hackathons are happening where and which hackathons you can attend in a way that the hackathon won’t be a waste of your energy and other resources?
- How to ensure your application is approved(If it has any criteria like that)?
- How to increase the chances of winning?
- What to do in hackathons that can help you on a different level?
Answer to the above question, make an account on Twitter and explore the space of your field; follow the accounts which provide about such hackathons; first, it can be hard to know the accounts, but here is the Algorithm of Twitter helps you, will throw many accounts which you can follow after you start following the accounts on Twitter, Then it's like a flow you will be aware of what’s going around in the space.
Join the Discord servers, and I will take this space to tell you about the great hackathons organized by Celo; you can get the details of a hackathon on the Discord server (link to join a server-“PLEASE PASTE A PERMANENT DISCORD INVITE LINK”) and also there are other servers out there whose link you will get from folks like me and on Twitter bios and yeah the whole community is helpful, so everyone is so happy to help the beginners, I am here talking mostly about the Web3 world because according to me the major thing in web3 is the community which is trying to make this a better place for developers to build and come out off the localhost.
Find your niche, what kind of products you like and which product you would love to build, and look out for hackathons related to that, For eg, I was interested in blockchain technology, and I was not aware of anything not even Metamask or ERC-20 token and ERC-721 contract still I participated in one hackathon around the web3 projects (but yeah DISCLAIMER -I was already a frontend developer and UI/UX designer, so not like I am unaware of the coding world, but even you don’t know that still you can go and explore and after that event you will know what to do and how to get ahead) a clearer path for you. I started my journey around web3 like this only, I was in my first hackathon, Didn’t ship any project but after coming back I dived into space looked for a project and resources which can help me and In a month or so I was I was able to ship my first project as I was in the community I participated in my first online hackathon with the friends which I made in my first hackathon which I mentioned earlier, And we won too, And from that day I have not looked back.
So how to make sure your application gets selected for the Hackathon(if there are any criteria like that) Not many, but some hackathons can have this procedure of filling out an application, and they will have a thorough look at your application, and then they will decide to accept or reject you, If you are a beginner, then my advice is to not get too involved in such hackathons in the starting as the chances of getting selected is less. Some key points they look out for in the application - 1)How much you have contributed (How many projects of yours or in which you were involved are life)
- What are those projects?
- How active are you in developing?
- What is your experience in participating in hackathons?
The above things are a few key parameters that they use to judge your application, So make sure
- Your application has a good amount of GOOD projects
- You have your linked GitHub account, and that is too active, where they can see your projects
- Make sure you tweet about them(Shh.. It’s a secret (I am not sure if it works or not, but you don’t have any loss in tweeting, so make an audience and make a tweet) )
- Have some experience holding your profile tight in the competition
- I participated in a few online hackathons and offline hackathons and won a few sponsor prizes and bounties so the hackathons and the projects shipped during that hackathons make my application stronger.
How to increase the chances of winning? (I hope you have not scrolled directly to this part, please don’t cheat and read it from the first line)
Find a team
- Make sure you know your skill set and tech stack which you will be bringing with you to the table in any team
- Keep in mind, a team that doesn’t make you feel pressured is better for you than a team that has a cool project. So make sure before joining a team that you wouldn’t exhaust yourself while working with them, because I have seen many that because of a mistake in selecting a team everyone suffers, if one chooses a team where they are getting that a little sweet spot which brings you out of your comfort zone which will help you and also a spot where you don’t feel alone or like they know much more than you and they are getting dragged because of you or vice-versa.
- Make sure you like the concept of the project so you would be passionate to build this project.
Other things after getting into a team
- Make sure you already know all the rules and other things which are set by the organizers
- Make sure you don’t cheat
- Make sure you look around at all other things which people are making around you to get an overview of what is a general category and try to make it different from that general category.
And the most important part
- Keep yourself open for any challenge, anything can come up, and any error can be sticky so don’t lose hope.
- Make sure you are open to acquiring more knowledge from your team members and other members too.
- Make sure to roam around and connect to people around you.
- Make sure you make connections that you can keep for a whole lifetime
- Make sure that your team feels your impact and the same for everyone around you
- Make sure you have your best time, and best experience and enjoy every moment
Now after doing all these steps, YOU ARE ALREADY A WINNER
Here are your prizes
- You will have the best memories
- A superb project on your portfolio
- And motivation enough to keep on learning new technologies to improve your tech stack and also keep on building cool projects and to keep on collaborating which will improve your soft skills and also networking.
OK, OK some tips also for winning… IYKYK(Cling Cling)
- Make sure your project has some unique features
- Try to make a project which solves any current problem in the ecosystem a tool or any product which can be helpful
- Make sure to have a robust backend and superb UI/UX and a well-integrated Frontend
- Try to integrate as many sponsor prizes in a useful way in your project and add the functionalities(take this with a pinch of salt, just don’t add the sponsor requirement haphazardly and be greedy, make sure your project has its actual use case)
- Have a team member in your team who can manage a team and attend as many workshops going around the event
- So this team member will keep the flow of the project streamlined and many times workshops are of the sponsors only, many times you can get insider info, which can help you and your project and also you get mentorship from the speakers (they are super happy to help and answer your questions, so don’t be shy)
- Having an experienced team helps
Now a crucial part WHAT NOT TO DO?
- Don’t stay confused and don’t be shy to share any problem with your team, or this can harm you and your team, if you are having any problems share as soon as possible, I am sure enough they will understand and also help you, but if you don’t share beforehand and at the end, it comes out, then there can be a huge blow, so please avoid.
- Make sure you don’t disrespect anyone on the team and be respectful to every team member.
- Make sure you and all your team members don’t fail to have a supportive environment and you keep appreciating each other's work and contribution. It will help all the team members to keep motivated.
We have come to an end
“JUST MAKE SURE YOU MAKE YOUR EFFORT WORTHWHILE AND ENJOY THE FULLEST, LEARN THE FULLEST, INSPIRE, AND GET INSPIRED TO THE FULLEST”
Phew…, It was a long article, but I wanted to make sure that everything is covered in one article only, so you don’t have to click multiple links. In this one article, you will be educated enough to have great experience and exposure.
All the information which was thrown at you is what I have gathered by participating and talking to thousands of folks around me, so this information is validated and tested by many, in the context of hackathon participating, winning, exposure, and everything….
Its an event which can only be experienced and to is shared, so you have to go there, and as said that there are many things which you do beforehand which will make the experience of participating in a hackathon smoother, so just be open to new connections, opportunities , lessons and experience
You dive into the space, make a Twitter account search for the folks around which you know that are active in the space, throwing some links towards you, you can start with
CeloOrg - https://twitter.com/celoOrg EthGlobal - https://twitter.com/ETHGlobal devfolio - https://twitter.com/devfolio
If you learn any technologies search for the docs, it will be helpful and keep on building projects, and for technical blogs,
Biased towards this - https://docs.celo.org/
Other sources where you will find good articles are (and I read)
Make sure to have a strong portfolio, keep adding your projects,keep everything neat on the GitHub
About the author
I am Ishan Pathak, I am a Frontend Developer, I am a UI/UX designer, I am still in college and also maintaining a community of my own to help all the students around me
GitHub - https://github.com/Ishanpathak1 Linkedln - https://www.linkedin.com/in/ishan-pathak-96852a1b7/