Hi! My name is Lisa.
I’m currently an undergraduate CS student at the University of Oklahoma and the current Marketing Strategist for Hacklahoma. The journey to getting to this point was not anything like I would’ve anticipated a year ago. With that being said, I want to outline my first hackathon experience and hopefully inspire you to jump into the world of innovation and fun!
It was December of 2017 and I was tired. I was getting jumped by multiple CS classes and I was pretty bored with the projects I was working on. Juggling school and work can be tough, so I was finding it hard to take on and commit to fun personal projects.
I was scrolling through my emails one day and saw registrations for Hacklahoma had just opened. I’ve always heard of Hackathons, but I had a false perception of what they actually were.
Hackathon == Hacking? Could I figure out a way to change my grades at this event? I got sidetracked and ended up forgetting about it. As the weeks went on, I found myself seeing it pop up more and more. Soon enough, I was intrigued. I knew my friend Amy was super involved on Hacklahoma exec, so I went up to her to ask about it and she gave me a lot of good info. Hackathons don’t involve hacking (so no changing my grades), but it DID involve meeting and collaborating with students from all over to create new products and learn new tools. Also, tons of free stuff (👀).
I was sold and ended up registering that night. After spreading the word to some of my CS friends, I had formed a group with 2 other students. We all worked in the same research lab together and decided to do a project that dealt with some of the tools they had been working with.
The day of the hackathon I showed up around 8am to get signed in. After the welcoming ceremony, me and my teammates went straight to work. We spent most of the 24 hours working on the front end of the application.
Around hour 8, I was beginning to struggle with the framework I was using. Because Hacklahoma had people dedicated to help hackers who had questions/issues with the tools they were trying to learn, I was able to ask them for help in person and via the Hacklahoma Slack channel.
Before I knew it 24 hours had passed. Me and teammates demoed our web application GeoTwit to judges and our fellow peers. We ended up placing on the top 20 teams overall! Not bad for our first Hackathon.
I left the experience feeling excited and inspired. I went in thinking I wouldn’t be able to help build an application using tools I was unfamiliar with. The entire experience pushed me to learn and to not be afraid to ask questions. It also gave me the chance to connect with some really cool people!
After Hacklahoma ended, I ended up connecting with Amy again. I knew I wanted to attend this hackathon again, but this time I wanted to have a bigger impact. Amy told me about some open positions that were up for grabs for Hacklahoma20. The marketing strategist position stuck out to me the most. Being the voice behind the announcements that get people excited for Hacklahoma, made me excited! I ended up applying for the position and interviewing. I talked about my prior experience with marketing, and other leadership roles; but ultimately emphasized that my desire to pursue this role was because of my positive and fun experience participating in Hacklahoma. Within a week, I found out that I got the position!
Participating in a Hackathon was nothing like I thought it would be. Although I wasn’t able to change my grades and do some high security Mr. Robot hacking, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and connect with new tools and people. As the current Marketing Strategist for Hacklahoma, I am excited to continue my journey.
The fun continues with Hacklahoma20, which will take place February 8–9, 2020. Don’t miss out on the chance to turn your innovative ideas into a reality.