- What is a Hackathon?
- Why should I attend a Hackathon?
- How do I apply to a Hackathon?
- What project should I come up with?
- People know so much, and I know nothing. What do I do?
- Everything about code is so overwhelming! What do I do?
- How is it like to be at a Hackathon?
- I have never been to a Hackathon. Should I still apply?
- Am I eligible to go to a Hackathon?
- Where can I find Hackathons to go to near me?
What is a Hackathon?
A hackathon is an event of intensive development where students from Colleges/Universities participate in teams to come up with solutions to specific problems or design cool projects. Hackathons can be of 12, 24 or 36 hours and they are always fun!
Why should I attend a Hackathon?
Do you like to have fun? Do you wish to make new friends? Do you like learning new things? Do you like doing something you’ve never done before? If the answer is yes, then hackathons are the right place for you.
Here are some additional benefits of going to hackathons
- You get free swag from sponsors
- You can also find recruiters at Hackathons who are actively looking for enthusiastic candidates. Who knows, you may land a job!
- Hackathons are FREE, and they also provide tasty food!
- You get a chance for networking
- You learn so much in so little time
- You make lifelong friends. Reason? Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. Darmok and Jalad on the ocean
- (You need to be a star trek fan like me to understand the sentence above from Tamarian language 😉 here’s the link if you are still interested!
How do I apply to a Hackathon?
If you plan on attending a hackathon, it is highly recommended you apply early on their website. Keep an eye on upcoming hackathons and whenever the registration opens, just apply. You may be asked to answer some questions like why you wanna attend this Hackathon or what makes you excited about this Hackathon or for your resume. Just be enthusiasm in your answers and willingness to learn.
What project should I come up with?
Well, there are all sorts of things you can make or design. If you know a little bit of programming, you can design websites or create mobile apps. You can also find GUI website creators like Wix, so even if you don’t have much programming experience, you can still make cool things. I have seen some people just coming up with mockups of their apps and even taking away prizes so again, you don’t need to be an expert level programmer.
Many sponsors have their own challenges, so if you are unable to decide what to start on, just pick a challenge and try to come up with solutions.
MLH has a hardware lab at every MLH Hackathon where you can check out devices like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, VR Headsets, sensors, wires, resistors and all sort of things by presenting a valid government ID.
Psst… They also have Muse Headband where you can get EEG and Gyro data using Muse SDK and do all sorts of cool looking things with it like making a head controlled cursor or brain wave emotion detector. The possibilities are endless
People know so much and I know nothing. What do I do?
HAVE FUN! Don’t worry about anything. Hackathons are not about winning or losing or who is better than who. They are about learning to do new things, getting out of your comfort zone and tackling challenges upright and above all, making new friends and having fun.
Everything about code is so overwhelming! What do I do?
You don’t need to know how to code. I promise, once you come back from a hackathon you will definitely know more than what you started with. It’s that intensive environment that allows you to learn things you have never seen before in a short period of time. You are learning and also applying what you learnt in real life, so it settles in your long term memory. Honestly, I have learnt more at hackathons in 24 hours than what I have learnt in my whole 4-month academic terms. So for sure, You don’t worry, you are all covered.
How is it like to be at a Hackathon?
For a regular 24hr hackathon here’s the usual agenda
- Beginning with registration in the morning + breakfast
- Opening ceremony – Sponsors introduce their prizes, keynote speaker etc
- Hacking begins – you can sit anywhere with your team within your allotted area and do stuff
- Some workshops
- More Workshops
- MLH Cup stacking(if its an MLH hackathon)
- Late night snack
- Late night activities (After 12:00AM – Last time at RUHacks we had karaoke and it was amazing!!)
- Don’t wanna sleep? – Eat AWAKE chocolates (which are usually there)
- Wanna sleep? Sleeping spaces are provided, (Take your own sleeping bag though it helps a lot)
- Breakfast the next morning
- More workshops or Networking events
- Demos begin
- Closing ceremony and prize distribution
I have never been to a Hackathon. Should I still apply?
YES. YOU MUST – If you have a passion for technology, do not think twice. Go ahead and apply. Even if you don’t win, you will get to see what things other people come up with. You get ideas for your next Hackathon, and you gain a lot of experience.
Am I eligible to go to a Hackathon?
While it depends upon what Hackathon you are planning to go to, the general criteria are that you have to be an undergraduate student or within two years of graduating. There are special hackathons for High Schools as well. MLH requires you to be at least 18 years of age to attend their Hackathons.
However, some hackathons may allow students under the age of 18 too. And of course, prior coding experience is NOT a criterion to be eligible for a Hackathon.
Where can I find Hackathons to go to near me?
Here are some places you can find Hackathons
- The most popular one is Major League Hacking mlh.io. MLH has hackathons all over North America and Europe
- Some other sites you can find hackathons near you are listed below.More hackathons websites are listed on this blog
Did I miss something?
Comment below any questions or doubts you have regarding Hackathons, and Will add them to the list and do my best to answer them.
Don’t forget to check out my other blog on How to Win at a Hackathon