There is a first time for everything. If you are attending a hackathon for the first time, it helps to be prepared. With the right preparation, you can make your hackathon experience more fun and productive. At HackerEarth, we have conducted over 800+ hackathons worldwide. In this blog, we are sharing our top tips to help you get the most of out of your first hackathon:
1) Know what you want to accomplish
Victory lies in the eyes of the beholder. When it comes to hackathons, bagging the prize money is not the only win. Hackathons are a fun way to build cool products, meet new people, learn something new, and even find a good job. Define your victory for your first hackathon. Know what you want to accomplish. Are you building something for your portfolio? Do you want to learn more about an app or API? Are you trying to build your professional network to find a job? At the end of the day, if the experience motivates you to achieve more, it is a victory.
2) Do your homework
Start by brushing up your programming skills. Go through APIs, open source libraries, and hackathon themes, if any. Check out if there are any existing templates that you can use. Practice your introductory pitch at home. Jot down ideas that you can use. Bookmark websites that offer free templates and prototyping tools.
3) Don’t forget to bring the necessities
Make sure you take everything you need including your laptop, USB chargers, pen drive, etc. Although internet access is free at the hackathon venue, it is a good idea to have your back up ready, just in case.
4)Reach the venue on time and network
Being on time not only makes you look professional, it also gives you the chance to talk to everyone at the venue. Once the hackathon starts, almost everyone will be too busy with their projects. The best time to network is at the beginning of the hackathon. Use the opportunity to introduce yourself, present your pitch, and connect with people. If you have not formed your team, try to get people onboard. Talk to the organizers and sponsors to get some tips. Many hackathons also have company-sponsored booths, fun activities, and workshops. You can meet headhunters and maybe even take home some cool hackathon giveaways like T-shirts, laptop stickers, etc.
5) Be willing to teach and learn
Depending on your team and the prototype that you plan to build, you need to be ready to learn and teach. Don’t start building immediately. Brainstorm with your team to finalize a strategy to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Be honest about what you can offer to the project. Assign ownership of tasks to team members according to their skills. As you build new products, you may have to learn new technologies and implement them on the fly. You may also have to explain technical concepts to your teammates who aren’t familiar with it.
Lastly, try to get enough rest and remember to have fun! You can perform your best when you are rested and happy. If you are focused and relaxed, you can code better and reduce the likelihood of bugs.
With the right attitude, teamwork, design, and presentation, you can make the most of your first hackathon.
What is your top tip for first-time hackathon participants? Share it with us in the Comments below.