Sell the dream, drink lots of coffee, get dollars
The Sponsorship Team.
What do you do?
Your job is to help connect students with people from the industry and tech community, representing UNIHACK to external stakeholders.
Sponsorship has a strong ramp up at the beginning of the year, your team will be getting in touch with awesome companies — ones with well known names and ones that are growing. You will also be in charge of maintaining the relationships with our existing sponsors (who we love very much ❤).
The most important task of being on this team is to continuously follow up, engaging in those relationships, and ensure they have the best experience both before and during the hackathon.
What was your experience like in Sponsorship?
Who are you and what did you do before joining the team?
Deanna: “I was on the Sponsorship team for Sydney. I had no experience in sales or any other sponsorship roles. I’ve also never had an opportunity to work on a long-term project before, everything else has been short-term. My experiences were only ever about dealing with internal stakeholders.”
Lee: “Sponsorship Team. Melbourne. No experience. I joined UNIHACK in 2015 before volunteering with any other student organisation.”
Rohail: “Sponsorship Team 2016, Sponsorship Lead 2017. I had been to a few WIRED Monash events — working a lot with Rayen [who was Sponsorship Lead 2016*] brainstorming new events, ideas and how to gain traction on sponsors. I did end up running with one of my ideas, the FinTech panel in ’16, that was part of my training into joining UNIHACK and WIRED Monash.”
Why did you join the team?
Deanna: “I decided on joining Sponsorship because I wanted to learn how to sell a product. I had only attended one hackathon prior to joining UNIHACK. I’ve come to appreciate that it’s not just a competition, it’s more about learning new things and how to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
The thing about university assignments is the problems are stagnant, everybody is building the same solution. What was so exciting for me was the idea of a completely new problem and immediately shipping a product.”
Lee: “My first hackathon was UNIHACK where I volunteered for the first time. I didn’t feel like I had the calibre for such a technical hackathon, in terms of software, UX or design, so I figured I’d join in the opposite end and organise instead.” [Lee was a Business Information Systems student]
“I joined Sponsorship because of the Industry exposure, especially as a budding IT student.”
Rohail: “To build a bigger network. In Sponsorship, you get the first line to speak to companies. Not to mention, my skills aligned with the needs of the team. I like speaking people, and that’s the core of my job. I had never heard about…[hackathons] before. I feel like Business Information Systems students were not as inclined to attend hackathons, let alone such a technical one.”
What was the hardest moment of being part of the team?
Deanna: “Understanding how to talk to the sponsors. Believing in a product is not the same as selling a product, and that’s a big difference we had to learn.
I’ve learned so many life lessons from Sarah [Sydney Sponsorship Lead] on top of professional skills.”
“I used to think I was organised, but Sarah showed me something completely different, integrating a very dynamic approach to managing the team — the targets for mini sprints, the type of actions she noted at meetings was completely different to what I was used to.”
Lee: “Just trying to get sponsors locked down, and paid to run the event — but that’s just a payroll thing. It was a combination of the urgency, pressure speaking to the sponsors and new-ness that was difficult.”
Rohail: “In 2016 trying to find additional sponsors to add to the contacts was a bit difficult, being new to the team and joining quite late. I was left with companies that we had never contacted before, so being the first cold contact was difficult as there was no existing relationship to warm up to.
In 2017, it was the sheer amount of work as a leader of my team — picking up remaining grunt work. I was not really expecting the obstacles we faced last year, but I would still do it again.”
“As for on the day, in 2017 it was managing the amount tech talks and just finding that perhaps we should have done it differently. We wanted all the companies to speak with the students, but we didn’t really have time.”
Is there a memorable moment — prior or during the event?
Deanna: “The first 15 minutes of the Careers Fair was the best moment for me. Just seeing everyone explore and network with each other — how crowded it was and how excited sponsors were.
It was amazing to see 4 months of hard work pay out, and the feedback we got afterward most definitely showcased how much everybody enjoyed it.”
Lee: “In 2015, I was having a chat with one of the Software Developer Mentors, I was telling her why I picked Monash, my career path, and how I’m really unsure of what I was doing.
She said ‘Have you thought about doing consulting?’ — I had never heard about that before and I looked into it.”
“‘I’ll hook you up with my Project Manager about what a consulting role is like’ — I ended up having coffee with this PM a few weeks later and it started my entire consulting career, and to this day I still catch up with her. I think she has been the biggest influence as a mentor, and that was all due to somebody I met at UNIHACK as a volunteer.”
Rohail: “Seeing the actual event come alive — seeing it all ‘gel together’. No more chaos from the last few weeks of preparation. Also, giving out our own gag prizes was really fun, along with seeing the sponsors giving out their prizes as well. Seeing the students happy that they’ve won something — regardless of what it was — the meme prize, 1st, 2nd or 3rd.”
Any advice you’d give yourself in 2017?
Deanna: “I wished I pushed for more. I feel like I gained a sense of invincibility towards the weeks coming up to the event — there was a point where I was contacting car rental companies to get a UNIHACK sponsored cars — was how hyped up I was.”
“I would have told myself to push for more, because if I had that feeling of invincibility from the beginning, I can’t imagine how much more we could have pushed for and how much better we could have made UNIHACK.”
Lee: “Keep on top of things. I think it would helped if we had a better inbox system, but we have that now. Don’t let your mail pile up for a week before answering them. Put the cat videos on hold.”
Rohail: “Prepare early.
But also to continue doing you. Keep doing what you want to do. Keep trying new things, exploring and learning.”
Any extra comments for our readers?
Deanna: “Regardless of whether you have experience or not, I’d say — just go for it. You will meet amazing people and learn so many new things.
Even being in the Sydney team wasn’t difficult at all — the Team Leads were all amazing in guiding us to the end goal. Everybody was working together, so feedback was always done well and the flat structure helped a lot.”
Lee: “Through UNIHACK and WIRED Monash, I’ve met the smartest people I know. It’s plain inspirational seeing all these ‘high-tier’ people come together do something good, for the IT student community. I looked forward to every meeting, because it was just like hanging out with my friends.”
Rohail: “To somebody who hasn’t done anything like this before, just plunge into it. Just do it. Relationships you build are invaluable in the future. It’s worth it.”
Piqued your interest yet? Tickled your fancy?
Apply to join the team today!
Otherwise, why don’t we read about what the other teams do?
Photos: Harry Liu, Deanna Arora
*I see you’ve been reading carefully 😉. This is not a typo. Rayen held Sponsorship Lead in 2016, Marketing Lead in 2017.
Yes, we are very supportive of your career progression.