A Girl’s Guide to Hackathons

How to stay clean, energized, & busy for the next 24 hours

Whether I’m participating or organizing these events — it’s easy to find yourself mentally or physically exhausted. There are a couple ways to prevent this from happening through hydration, healthy food, and time management.

Stay Clean

I tend to feel unmotivated if I’m dirty or unhygienic. For a hackathon, it’s essential to pack deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, hairbrush, hair ties, and extra set of clothes or pajamas. Additionally, dry shampoo nevers hurts.

Stay Energized

As many of you know, programming is a task that you can get easily sucked into. While this intense focus is good, make sure you keep a water bottle nearby and stay hydrated. This will allow you to think clearly without burning out.

At hackathons, energy drinks are often provided to stay awake & focus for the full 24 hours. If you don’t want to feel tweaked out, but could still use the kick of caffeine — I would recommend packing some green tea or Guayaki Yerba Mate.

If you have certain dietary restrictions, make sure to pack a source of protein , fruit, or vegetables. My personal favorites are Justin’s Nut Butter, Evolution Pressed Juices, and Simple Square Bars. Besides that, hackathons provide free, healthy food for participants.

Stay Productive

It’s easy to get sidetracked with extra features, bells, and whistles, on a project you’re extremely passionate about. Keep it simple. Discuss your minimum viable product— with your team before diving in head first. What do you want your project to accomplish by the time to submit & demo?

Delegating time sensitive tasks throughout the hackathon is essential to staying on track. For collaborative programming on multiple platforms, I suggest Cloud9. Starting a Trello board with your team will help assign and complete individual tasks. For personal time management, I always recommend Lanes.io, with task lists, a weekly timeline, and a pomodoro timer to keep you on track.

Pack the Essentials!

In conclusion to these quick tips, here’s a bulleted list of what you should pack for a hackathon!

  • Laptop
  • Headphones
  • Chargers for all devices
  • Water Bottle
  • Favorite snacks (optional)
  • Sleeping bag (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Wacom Board (optional, but is awesome for prototyping)
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste/Toothbrush
  • Dry Shampoo (optional)
  • Hair brush & hair ties
  • Pajamas or a fresh set of clothes (You’ll thank me later)

Helpful Tools:

Looking For Hackathons Near You?

Major League Hacking (MLH) has their fall schedule posted for hackathons happening internationally. Devpost is another good resource for hackathons that are online, or not listed with MLH.

Girls Who Code Clubs and Hack Club are two good groups that organize groups of hackers at high school and middle school levels. If you are new to programming, this could be an awesome space for a group of close friends to organize mini-hackathons & build cool products!

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