Something about a hackathon.

/* This is the first of a hopefully semi-regular series of quick anecdotes about my adventures since I unexpectedly found myself swimming in the hackathon community */

Right now, I find myself in the midst of helping out with planning MHacks 6. You all know MHacks. It’s big, it’s epic, it’s an amazing space for beginners and pros alike to hack together. The team is full of absolutely amazing people, and I’m so lucky to get a chance to work with and contribute to something so amazing.

Let’s go back for a second though, to my first ever hackathon experience. Mhacks V.

Yes, my first hackathon was MHacks V, and here I am, part of the MHacks 6 crew. You know, it’s true what people say, about hackathons being addicting and life-changing. I thought it was a cliche my fist two years of college- I dismissed hackathon culture as “bro-y”, but honestly I was just kind of intimidated. I was too scared to join Michigan Hackers because everyone seemed smarter and cooler than me; I didn’t understand that it was okay if I didn’t know anything, because being a hacker is about learning the things that I don’t know by creating.

I somehow find myself applying, and, well…it was amazing. I had lost my voice completely and I could barely talk or say anything without incredible pain and raspiness, but it was still fantastic. I stayed up and barely slept, saw some really cool things, made friends with some pretty awesome people, drank a lot of coffee, and learned so much. My project didn’t really pull through, but I didn’t really mind. It was exhausting in the best way possible, and I didn’t want it to end. The atmosphere was so addictive, and all I wanted to do was to learn, to grow, to create.

The semester passes on, and I see everything I do as part of the aftermath of MHacks. I feel slightly more competent about my ability. In fact, the weekend after the hackathon, a former acquantance who I had turned into a friend there asked me to help him out with this idea for an app he had. I was ridiculously flattered that he asked me for help, and I was excited to be on a team where I could have a say, grow with others, and make something cool happen (we’re still working on it, by the way, it’s going to be awesome).

A couple months later, after going to the Michigan Celebration of Women In Computing conference, I find myself friends with a ton of cool new people in my major, one of them being Pavi, the User Experience director of MHacks 6. She’s really awesome.

Anyway, one day, she messages me and another friend asking if we want to be on this experimental team called “Moonshot”. “All you have to do is come up with ideas!” she says, “I think you guys would be perfect!”

Uh. Yes. I love ideas.

I start off our first few meetings sitting in quietly, interjecting infrequently, mostly just to agree or elaborate on something. I’m still a little intimidated. These are people I looked up to for my first two years of college, and now I’m oNe Of tHeM???

Time goes by, meeting frequency slows down, and one day Pavi messages Shayna and I again.

“Hey, do you two want to be in charge of a Women@MHacks event?”

Uh. Duh.

We start planning. And oh, are we planning (you guys just wait till September 9th). Never have I reached out or emailed SO HARD.

In one of these meetings, Pavi mentions some on-going stuff with the website, and I offer to help. CSS, afterall, is one of the few things I am personally confident in my skills in. We stay up for hours after the Google Hangout call, and I find myself staying up late into the night perfecting and tweaking things.

OKAY whoa I just keep roping myself into more and more things. And now I’m working on the website. THE website for MHacks? And people actually get to see things I do in real life because the real life changes I make will be on the real life website? Holy crap.

It’s pretty cool that two years ago I was thinking about learning CSS and joining Michigan Hackers, and now, here I am. I’m not stupid, I’m not incompetent, and I realized how much I love to learn new things by creating.

I like making things happen.

It’s pretty neat.

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