TechTogether New York: My Best Hackathon Experience
I’m Savannah and I’m a high school sophomore in southern Utah. I started attending online events and competitions to quench my boredom during covid-19, little did I know that it would bring me to an amazing community that I would never want to leave.
I started attending virtual hackathons in October 2020 and since then have attended seven different hackathon events, won three titles, and formed 3 teams.
A few weeks ago I attended TechTogether New York, a hackathon solely for women (cis & trans) and non-binary individuals, and had a blast! Part of what helped make this hackathon one of the best I had attended was the program I attended the weekend before the hackathon. Those two days I took part in a new program hosted also by TechTogether called PreHacks. I seriously recommend Prehacks to any new or first-time hackers. They go over much-needed information such as Hackathons 101, project ideation, a bunch of beginner coding lessons, and overall it’s just a lot of fun! Prehacks is where I found my team for TechTogether New York, which made going into the hackathon less scary!
What made this hackathon different from the rest?
Every hackathon I have attended is overwhelmed by an awesome and accepting community, but for some reason TechTogether New York just hit differently. Not only did I feel welcome, but I felt like I had been a part of this event/community for much longer than just a few days. We had a bunch of different channels on our discord for different interests such as pets, art, gaming, music, and more. We all got to have fun sharing about ourselves and learning about others. I enjoyed interacting with the events and participants much more than the actual coding and work.
Let’s just say I was not a fan of teams after my last two attempts of working with others for hackathons. There were always people that didn’t work at all or people that wanted to manage and not put forward their own work. When another participant from Prehacks reached out to me asking if I’d like to team up, I was very hesitant, but I decided to take the risk and it paid off. Malak and Pauline (my teammates) were amazing and definitely made me have more hopes in working with groups. We had so much fun working and also just getting to know each other. This is the first time I’ve wanted to make sure to keep in touch with other attendees. I felt despite not winning we had an amazing project and I wouldn’t change anything about it.
TechTogether New York had more than 30 different workshops and nearly half were specifically for beginners. Something that sets this hackathon away from other hackathons is the diverse topics. Not only are there many different programs for coding but workshops covering things such as calligraphy, interview preparation, and networking & resume-building. These workshops aren’t just meant for projects, but also to prepare attendees for the future in their careers. They also had some workshops for those who are intermediate or advanced in certain programs which I haven’t really seen a lot of at other events.
I was having a hard time coming up with an idea to hack for this event. Luckily, my team had some amazing ideas. The one that stuck out most was ‘Connecting Seniors with Teens’. Since the hackathon is only two days long and none of us were experts in coding by any means, all we were able to put together was the concept and design of this project. We started with the design layout in Figma so we could collaborate on the design easily and I started gradually putting the designs into a Adobe XD file so the design would act as a real interactive website instead of an image. We had so much fun putting together and I could tell all of us were very passionate about this idea and concept. If we had more time, we may have been able to accomplish more, but I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish especially since some of our team were newer to the hackathon community.
The best part of TechTogether New York was that it was just fun and I got to enjoy myself! Other hackathons I have attended in the past have made me feel very stressed or anxious about timelines or competing, but this hackathon lets me focus on learning new things and connecting with amazing other individuals just like me. I would seriously recommend attending TechTogether events as well as get involved in their community.