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Impressions of my first Hackathon

Last weekend I attended the Hack’n’Lead organized by women++ — this was the first time I was using my new coding skills in cooperation with others. Together with my team I worked on a challenge by Thomson Reuters to solve problems in modern slavery and human trafficking through technology. Tackling coding, sustainability and social issues at one and the same time together with a great team was an incredibly awesome experience. I want to put down some notes what my first hackathon felt like for me.

So you are asking yourself what this is all about? Although I only started to learn programming about half a year ago, last week I took part in the Hack’n’Lead of women++ in Zurich. Some of you might ask yourselves: Really? You have participated in a hackathon and then with so little coding experience? And I can only say: Yes, I did! And hey, it was really cool. Of course, I was a little nervous about whether that was right for me. But in the end, sometimes you have to jump over your own shadow and just try something new. And it was definitely worth it!

I worked in a super team (many thanks to the stars Chanel Greco, Valentina Coco and Valentina Tamburello), met a lot of great people, got connected to an extremely diverse community and most importantly: I could use my coding skills for the first time outside of my familiar environment. I have seen that I can do a little bit of coding (and even more) and that I can approach all this coding stuff with confidence.

The team V2 + MC = A

Together against modern slavery

With our team of four we have covered a wide range of skills. Valentina Coco was our financial expert. She is really good at project management and presentation. Our other Valentina is a great astrophysicist and knows well data sciences and she can work with python. Chanel is a coding teacher and in contrast to me she has “a bit” more experience 😉 in coding. So I had the chance to get some great input from her. Many thanks, Chanel!

The name says it: V2 + MC = A
Valentina square plus Marina and Chanel is Awesome

Together we worked on the Thomson Reuters Challenge which covered the topic of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. Our goal was a simple app to report suspicious observations of inhumane working conditions all over the world and make hotspots visible in a real-time heat map. I was mainly involved in the design and development of the frontend as my coding skills covered this area best.

Coding and Design

Our team in action.

Chanel has — as a coding teach — has a lot more experience in coding than me, but even she tried out new things this weekend and was super happy when she got our geolocation feature running in the app! Great work! 👏 And of course I took the opportunity to code for the first time for a product that for once was not only for me at home, but for a larger audience. We kept our app simple and didn’t use any fancy features or frameworks, but used HTML, CSS, Javascript and Bootstrap. So I could use my previous knowledge and gain new experiences with it. But even if it was a simple skill set, I learned a lot and it was a lot of fun to develop, try and learn together with Chanel.

Valentina Coco as a finance expert was our team lead and project manager. She prepared herself superbly for the pitch, created a business model and continuously collected feedback from the Ambassadors and the Thomson Reuters team to check if we meet the goals in the challenge. 🙌 Together with her I designed the logo for our app and was able to work on the creative and designing part, which is also one of my passions. I always find the combination of coding and design extremely exciting and this is exactly the area I want to dive deeper into.

So I continued to work on the frontend and created our logo in a graphics program, while Data-Valentina and Coding-Chanel developed our heat map, which uses data from the Global Slavery Index to make modern slavery hotspots visible.

In the end

The two days were really exhausting, but the fun of the challenge, the many new acquaintances and the great atmosphere that spread in the auditorium made the time fly for me.

In the end, we didn’t win the hackathon, there were just so many great results from the many teams. But that’s not what we really needed as a team. I think our team really enjoyed the challenge, the learning, the networking and the great community during this weekend. For my part, I benefited a lot from this first hackathon. I’ve seen again that it’s worth it if I continually improve and deepen my skills, if I stay curious and expand my network. And that’s what this weekend was all about. 🥳

A big Thank You to women++ for this great Hack’n’Lead 2019!

My thanks especially to all the people who are involved at women++ and made this Hack’n’Lead possible. It was a great experience for me and I’m already looking forward to more events by women++! Hope to see all of you again soon.

So, you are wondering what’s next? Well, so far I can screw a bit on the frontend and write a few functions, but for me that’s not enough. So I’ll stay tuned, keep learning, gain more experience and learn step by step how to write really great code. I still have enough topics on my list when it comes to coding. Now even more motivated than before the Hack’n’Lead! Let’s go!

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Marina Kraus

Marina Kraus

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Product Designer | Work Anywhere | Content Creation | Connect on Mastodon 🐘 https://toot.community/@marina