Are you that individual who likes talking/complaining about problems or are you even passionate about solving these problems? If yes, then Hackathons are meant for just you.
A Hackathon is an event organized for coders, designers, and strategists in order to bring about innovative ways to solve a particular problem. It may be a 24hr/48hr (or even more) event depending on the complexity of the problem/challenge. This doesn’t mean hackathons are meant for coders and designers alone, in fact, the only requirement for you to participate in any hackathon (except specified otherwise) is the passion to solve problem and also win money. While the latter seems ephemerally exciting, the lasting experience/exposure that participants will get is just priceless.
Hackathons are extremely competitive atmospheres filled with intelligent minds, and you need to prove yourself in terms of your skills and thinking capacities to bes selected which is pretty much easier when you have the requirement I stated earlier.
Here are five reasons why you should attend more hackathons.
By force, you will think
The challenges that have been selected by the organizers (oftentimes) alone will starve your brain cells of glucose. Why? Because, when you read about a challenge (especially when you are non-techie), you won’t probably understand at first, for example; “create a platform that’ll allow citizens to not only vent about issues that are important to them but also provide a space for citizens and organizations to collaborate to solve problems”. That feeling of “what is this about?” will enable you to begin asking reasonable questions like, will this platform be a website or a mobile app? How can a website/app stimulate my local government chairman to repair the roads in the community? How can this platform be used by an illiterate to solve problems in his own community? You see, you are already thinking! It doesn’t end there, the questions you’ve raised need answers. How do you get answers? Research! Your knowledge bank will increase and you will know better.
When you attend hackathons, there are some very common questions that you’ll be asked, e.g. what your skill-set is? What’s your strength? What can you offer? What value are you putting on table? (As if it is a job interview panel). These questions are meant to “validate you” whether you are there to solve problems or you just want to join the “HACKAFUN” (the looku looku) team. The challenges that need to be solved will require you to push yourself to the limit. And of course, given the competitive atmosphere, this will make you better at what you do.
Network without coverage limit
Hackathons bring creative minds from different backgrounds together to form different teams in order to work on an idea. It is an avenue to meet passionate and “creazitive” (crazy+creative) individuals. It is a chance to teach and be taught new technological possibilities. For those who understand the bliss of just getting a business card or an email will never want to miss a geeky party like hackathons.
Improve your leadership skill
Every team needs a leader, and this is one of the most intriguing points at any hackathon. Basically, Idea owners are the team lead, but sometimes, a team member may be better in terms of communication, ideation, coordination and collaboration. It’s a chance to test those textbook leadership skills whether they will work. Sorry, they won’t. At hacks, you’ll get to lead your elder brothers. So, you’ll need to be a good listener too. Also, don’t say, “That doesn’t make sense” to people’s idea/thought. Else…
Have “serious fun”
There are several material benefits (T-shirts, wrist bands, gadgets etc) aside from the free delicious meals when you participate in hackathons. For me, when I see a hackathon banner/post, after reading the challenges and all that, I’ll check the sponsors. If I see Google, EiE or Microsoft, I’ll probably get four t-shirts from that hackathon.
Personally, I love hackathons, I wish more companies will organize it more, because, I just like to be in that atmosphere where everyone in the room is thinking of a viable solution.
So, now, are you convinced?
I have a special “sturv” for you. Participate in the 2015 Skylar Hackathon.
Get your “Hackara” and let’s Turn Up!
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Usman is an aspiring “DevSigner” and a digital avid. A UXvangelist, he enjoys mixing pixel to create good digital products. He has a cult love for medicine and combat-ready coffee. Graphic developer at GoMyWay Africa