You’re probably looking to start your career in tech. You could be a fresh college graduate who left the university door. Or even a professional with 20 years of experience in another industry looking to switch things up. You’ve signed up for courses, joined boot camps, and even built a small website. But what’s next? Is that enough to land you a job in your new chosen field?
Hackathons are the perfect activity to get the ball rolling. A hackathon is an event hosted by tech companies or organizations. People gather to engage and collaborate with other peers. Don’t worry. It generally isn’t purely about “hacking.” The goal is to finish a project in a few days with team effort.
And no, you don’t need to be a master of your craft before you start participating in these types of events. You can start as an observer. After that, you can work up to joining a team or even starting your team. Remember, you are there to learn and absorb as much as possible.
Table of Contents
Why are Hackathons Beneficial?
1. Skill Development
It would be the best avenue to showcase the skills you have. The event provides a platform to work on real-world solutions within a limited time frame. It’s going beyond the mock tutorial project you did during your learning phase. You will learn to work under pressure and produce high-quality output in a short span of time.
Experience is the best teacher. You will be working on projects that potentially solve a company’s business. Or come up with many hackathon ideas that will birth a new startup. Coding hackathons will allow you to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned. You can also build your portfolio based on your contributions to the hackathon.
You can also get exposed to the latest trends, tools, and techniques. This will hone your ability to adapt and stay updated in a rapidly evolving industry.
You can also include the experience in your resume and use it as an edge. Employers can see this as a trait that you like learning new things and can work with other individuals as a team.
Hackathon events bring together a lot of individuals with the same passion. This can lead you to make valuable connections and opportunities. 80% of professionals consider networking a vital factor in their careers. The relationship and rapport you build with your team can go beyond just the event itself.
This is the best chance to meet hackathon organizers to get a shot at submitting your CV to companies. You can also meet people who can be your future mentors or colleagues.
4. Collaboration and Communication
In a hackathon, you are not only sharpening your technical skills but also your soft skills. Communication skills are vital when it comes to voicing out your ideas to your peers.
Communication also means being a good listener. There will be a jargon you’ve never heard of. Some peers will go deep into explaining a technical concept. Expanding your knowledge by listening to seasoned professionals or a newbie like yourself is the best opportunity.
A lot of hackathons offer prizes and awards. It is a competition, after all. Winning can get you recognized for your work. This will boost your visibility and credibility in the industry. You showcase your talents and get rewarded for it.
If you don’t win – that’s also OK! You will learn how to embrace failure and determine the areas for improvement. What’s important is you stepped out of your comfort zone. You can even use this as a talking point during an interview.
Don’t get so caught up about being the best in the room. Have fun! Whether it’s a virtual hackathon or face-to-face, the important thing is that you learn something new. You can even make it an annual activity to attend, just for fun.
How To Prepare for a Hackathon?
1. Know Your Goals
Why are you joining a hackathon? Is it to win? Is it to gain experience on a skill you’re learning, or is it to network? Have a clear idea of what you want to do during the event. This will help you maximize your participation in the event and leave you feeling accomplished.
2. Research and Preparation
Due diligence goes a long way. Research on ideas that could be presented. Research what type of hackathon event you will be joining.
If you want this event to be a stepping stone to land your first job, then come prepared. Have your portfolio ready. Get to know which companies are sponsoring the event and do some research. You might meet a founder or a recruiter and have the chance to show what you have.
3. Join or Form a Team
The majority of hackathons are team-driven. Find people who are looking for a teammate with your skillset. You can also form a team if you belong to a group wherein joining a hackathon is a common interest.
4. Planning and Execution
Know your role within the team. There should be a pre-planning activity to understand how you plan to make the team work. List the strengths and weaknesses and how you’ll all synchronize during the event. It can get stressful as there will only be a limited time frame. Remember, group dynamics can make or break a team in a hackathon.
Will joining a hackathon land me a job?
It is not a guarantee. It’s important to note that you are competing with thousands of other candidates who also joined a hackathon in the past. However, it all boils down to your experience. The way you present your contributions and your learnings is essential if you want to leave a lasting impression.
Hackathons play a significant role in kick-starting a career. The top benefits would be skill development and networking. It is a great avenue to enhance and showcase skills. It is also a good channel to meet and network with industry professionals. A study shows that 70% of individuals obtain their job through networking. That’s all the more reason to attend a hackathon! Participating in a hackathon can do wonders for your potential tech career.
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