Your Hackathon Community Manager, Mary!

Mary Siebert
Jun 18 · 4 min read

Hey everyone!

My name is Mary Siebert and I am incredibly excited to join the MLH family as a Hackathon Community Manager! I can’t wait to work with our community of hackathon organizers. While I did not officially become a Hackathon Community Manager until June, you may have seen me supporting events in other ways like facilitating our virtual MLH Peer Groups and attending our Member Events as an MLH Coach!

I love the hacker community and could not have imagined the last few years of my life without it. At the end of my first year of college, I remember hearing about a new event on campus — Hack K-State. While I was curious, I was hesitant to participate because I didn’t know anyone involved. After chatting with past Hack K-State hackers in my classes and hearing about their awesome experiences, I realized how great the experience sounded and I decided I wouldn’t pass up on the next opportunity to participate in a hackathon again. When Hack K-State came up again my sophomore year, I quickly recruited a few friends and registered my team as hackers. I had so much fun building my project (a music visualizer that incorporated a Leap Motion from the MLH Hardware Lab powered by Digi-Key). It was the first time I had worked on a programming project all night and genuinely enjoyed it. Hackathons allowed me to break out of normal routine, dive into something I didn’t know much about, and ask questions in a supportive environment.

Most importantly, Hack K-State brought me a sense of community. I finished my first hackathon closer to the friends I came with and even made a few new friends as well. I left that weekend exhausted but still wanting to tell everyone about how much fun I had. After participating in Hack K-State the following year, I was given the opportunity to join the organizing team and I quickly said yes. Participating in hackathons wasn’t just about the weekend, it was about finding a community I belonged in. As an organizer, I oversaw graphic design and social media, but because I worked on a relatively small organizing team, I also picked up so much knowledge around event planning, budgeting, problem-solving, and what ratio of pizza toppings will ensure the happiest hackers. I even learned how to make 500 scrambled eggs for 200 hackers one morning, something I never imagined I would do in college. Several months into the planning process for Hack K-State 2018, our team traveled to Pennsylvania to attend MLH Hackcon VI hosted by GitHub! Hackcon gave me the ability to see the hacker community beyond Hack K-State. I met 400 other organizers from around the world and learned how incredibly diverse and amazing the MLH community is. I was able to leave Hackcon and immediately implement the tips I learned, everything from how to make Hack K-State more eco-friendly to the dos and don’ts of emailing potential sponsors.

I enjoyed organizing Hack K-State because it was an opportunity to grow the community that I found as a first-time hacker. Attending your first hackathon can be nerve-wracking, and organizers have the unique opportunity to influence the way someone is introduced to the hacker community.

People have asked me why I’ve chosen to take a non-technical role rather than pursuing a career as a software engineer. While I do enjoy development, I wanted to be in a role where I could give back to the communities I love. I am especially excited to be on the League team because I believe hackathons serve as a catalyst to form great communities, and that begins with making sure organizers have the resources they need to put on amazing hackathons.

I’m excited to meet you and will be here to serve as a resource to you. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at mary@mlh.io!

Happy Hacking!

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