How to win at hackathons

Okay, that is a very clickbait (and slightly misleading) title. I apologize.

Form teams with people whose interests match yours, and whose experience level is on par with yours

The interests part should be straightforward. Let me explain the experience level part.

Aim to learn and experiment, not to win

Put simply, winning is hard. And you’ll be disappointed if you aren’t able to finish your hack, or if you believe the judging was unfair for you/your hack. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to win, but don’t make it the main goal.

Sleep is normal, don’t suppress it (or pressure others to)

Health and sanity matters. Not everyone can pull off an all nighter (I definitely can’t). Hog the nicer chairs/couches, and doze off early as if it’s just another day. When you wake up, don’t forget to take advantage of the mental energy boost caused by a healthy sleep cycle that most people have mysteriously opted out of.

It’s a conference! Treat it as one

Talk to sponsors and other hackers. Go to the workshops and talks. Don’t expect to hack 24/7 — and don’t be afraid to leave your team behind and go to these (better yet, encourage them to come along too).

Currently building great database systems. Software engineering grad, @UWaterloo. Engaged citizen. Urbanist.

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