The longevity of a HackSoc — Hackathon society

Matt Burman
Mar 17, 2017 · 2 min read

I always intended to stand for president of the society we founded into the next year. Here’s why I am not.

The society “Annual General Meeting” (AGM) elections coming up forced me to think long term. What would happen when the founding team were no longer there?

Could others continue making future Hackathons happen? Yes. After all, we founded it with no idea what to do. We had no society, no funding, no contacts, and only two months until the proposed date of our first Hackathon. Would we do that again? No. We need to take what we learn and make future hackathons as easy as possible to run for future society committee members.

So how can we make things easier for the future?

We have first, second and third years that need to combine their time, experience, knowledge, expertise and contacts to make shit happen.

First years have time. Their grades don’t count towards their degree (as long as they pass). Experience, knowledge, expertise and contacts? Likely not much.

Second years have a bit less time. Their grades now count for a third of their degree. Experience, knowledge, expertise, and contacts? Hopefully more than first years.

Third years have even less time. Two thirds of their degree is at stake. Experience, knowledge, expertise and contacts? They should have the most.

How can we optimise a system of first, second and third years to produce the best Hackathons over a long period of time? A streamlined process.

This leads me to imagine the following conceptual framework.
Second years lead. They don’t have as much time as first years, but they have more time than third years — and more experience, knowledge and expertise than first years.
Meanwhile, first years need to be learning as much as possible ready to lead in the following year.
Why shouldn’t third years lead? They have the most experience, knowledge and expertise right? Yes, but what about those who just graduated, or the master’s students that have even less time? Second years could run it, whilst still taking advantage of having third years around for mentorship. Third years may not have such quick access to those who ran it before them if they graduated.

This doesn’t mean third years and above can’t or shouldn’t help out or lead. It just means it’s potentially suboptimal in this conceptual, non-perfect, and long-term framework.

I encourage all current first-years to apply, as it is likely optimal in this framework for you to lead. I also encourage current second+ years to apply! As per the mentorship concept above, I will happily personally mentor and help out the next president of the HackSheffield Society.


Hackathon society at University of Sheffield

Matt Burman

Written by

Software Engineer, CS Grad @sheffielduni, Founder @HackSheffield


Hackathon society at University of Sheffield