TechTogether New York Rekindled My Desire to Work in Tech
The neat aspect of TechTogether hackathons is that you don’t have to be a programmer, coder, or experienced hacker to participate! TechTogether New York 2021 participant, Jaylene was nervous to attend this year’s hackathon because she did not have any programming experience.
However, after attending, her desire to work in tech has sparked! Read below Jaylene’s experience participating in her first hackathon ever.
My name is Jaylene, and I’m currently a sophomore at Long Island University, studying computer science.
TechTogether New York was the first official hackathon that I’ve attended. I learned about the event from my friend, who’s the active president of our university’s Girls Who Code Club. The only other event that I have participated in was a Capture the Flag event that took place about two years ago.
Leading up to TechTogether New York, I was super nervous about not having enough programming experience to compete. Oftentimes I feel like a poser when it comes to computer science.
In my experience, there’s been very little diversity in tech; usually, when I walk into a classroom, it’s full of guys, with the exception of maybe one or two girls in the class, including myself. Although I’ve been coding for about three years, it’s easy to feel like an outsider when you don’t see people who look like you occupy the same places that you aspire to.
However, when TechTogether New York started, all of my fears and anxiety were alleviated. While TechTogether New York was a competition, it also served as a means of networking and education. Mentors were provided, questions were encouraged, no tech completions were offered, and there were tutorials and demonstration seminars throughout the duration of the event.
I attended two of the workshops offered during the hackathon. The most memorable of the two was the workshop that demonstrated how to use AI and machine learning programs. The program takes a lot of reference photos that will be used to differentiate the physical features of objects. During the workshop, the mentor explained how the AI program could be used to analyze and collect data for various implications. This workshop broadened my knowledge of AI and introduced me to software that I never knew existed.
One of my favorite aspects of the TechTogether event was using Discord. There was constant communication and it was a great way to meet people. The server had tons of channels where we could talk about our favorite shows or connect to POC or people in the LGBTQ community.
The Discord server also made it so much easier to form teams and to build a project. During team formation, I talked to people in Zoom breakout rooms who had varied programming experience and were in varying stages of their careers. Fortunately, I was already part of a team prior to the start of the hackathon, but it wouldn’t have been difficult to find teammates.
My teammates and I decided that the best course of action was to focus all of our strengths on one of several themes. Ultimately, we chose to create a project that would allow people to experience all of the art that NYC has to offer.
“Where It’s At!” was a very simple website that we built together, that took a person’s location as an input and directed that person to a page that displayed local museums, public gardens, galleries, etc. The site also featured pages where users could be redirected to free programs or to make donations/volunteer their time at various organizations.
Despite not having any HTML experience, my teammates along with the TechTogether links to tutorials helped to guide me in the process of writing code for our webpage. Even though we didn’t win the prize for our category, it was still fun to build.
Overall, I had a great time participating in the hackathon. I plan on joining the virtual TechTogether Seattle and would love to attend every other event that TechTogether hosts in the future. Next time around, I’ll make sure to take advantage of all the workshops and connect with more people. TechTogether New York definitely rekindled the fire in me that made me want a career in tech.
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