A hackathon is any event of any duration where people come together to solve problems with digital means and present them to each other. That’s it, really simple. In most cases a hackathon is on two days and you get 24 hours time for the hacking. But why should you even bother to invest two of your precious days? Well, here are at least seven reasons!
#1 Learn more than in 6 month
At a Hackathon a wide variety of skills are required. You get constantly challenged in different ways. You will need great collaboration skills as you will work in a team and you will also need to present your work. You definitely learn new things about technology, as you will create something from scratch. It is learning-by-doing and you will hack a lot to get your ideas alive. You also will have the chance to explore new and and bleeding edge technologies, as most teams use it. There are often experts in many fields from which you can learn a lot in a short period of time. Use your chance!
#2 Improve beyond your personal boundaries
Say goodbye to your comfort zone. The idea to work with unknown people in a team is frightening for many. For most people it will be a huge adventure to go to such an event and work under pressure to finish something. And second the Hackathon itself will be asking you for all kinds of unexpected contributions that have nothing to do with “what you’re good at” or “what you’re supposed to do”. You may end up presenting before the whole crowd, even if you think you are a bad speaker.
#3 The feeling to create something in 24 hours
How often did you start a small project and never finished it? Or thought about something, but never tried it out? Hackathons are like marathons, hence the name. Most will give you one day, some two days or more, to finish your project. But in the end this is really a short period of time and it will be intense. You will need to cut the scope, take some shortcuts. And you will still be amazed to see what you can finish in such a short period of time. You work all night with little to no sleep. You gain a second wind during the final pitching and in the end of a Hackathon, when receiving your award, you feel exhausted, but truly satisfied. Like a true marathon winner.
Just people. There are so many different people at Hackathons. How often do you get a chance to spend time working with a huge crowd of likeminded people on common projects for a whole day? People with all different kinds of backgrounds all work together to create something new and unique. A Hackathon is the perfect place for both extroverts and introverts to foster relationships and grow your soft skills, while engaging in something they have a shared and genuine interest in. You will meet other people full of enthusiasm for what they do, who are really fun and smart, too. Maybe you will even find your next co-founder or new colleagues.
#5 Interdisciplinary teams
There are different roles at most Hackathons, like designer, coder or something completly out of space. But you may end doing something different, as you have little time and the one thing that matters is finishing. So it’s about learning to be aware of how work is done in different areas and beeing prepared for our modern and fast pacing work environment. You will also learn to value the skills of persons who are different than yourself. It is amazing how valuable it can be to have a business expert or a designer in your team. A Hackathon has made more than one person more humble, in different ways.
#6 The Thrill
If you did quite some intense things in your life, like jumping out of a plane, a Hackathon would still be something exciting for you. If you haven’t hacked a Hackathon you can’t know the feeling you have. The agitation before. Will you be able to finish something? And the excitement afterwards, when you are finished and you have created something. Don’t get me started on the time between. A Hackathon is a challenge that comes with a lot of work, but also a lot of fun and it can be a experience of a lifetime.
#7 Prizes and fame
Okay, this one is a little bit cheesy, but is true nevertheless. Not only will you have the chance to win some cool stuff, you will also most likely get a cool goodie bag and free stuff. And food and drinks will also be for free. Need a new shirt, stickers or a power bank ? Try a Hackathon. And second you will have something to present. Everyone, look at this cool project, I created this! And if you win a prize you can brag about it wherever you like and mention it on you business profile. You can even write in on you job application, as it not only shows you skill, but your enthusiasm and motivation.
Bonus: It is so much fun. Believe me.
This article was originally published on the Ideas Engineering Tech Blog.