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Mario García
Mario García

Posted on • Updated on

Why I don't attend hackathons

I never knew about hackathons when I was at the university as those kind of events weren't organized in the city where I live. That's probably the main reason I don't participate at hackathons but I will try to explain it a little bit more.

My first approach with software development was 15 years ago, when I was in high school. I learned HTML, CSS and JavaScript at that moment. Then I decided to study Computer Systems Engineering.

At the university I learned C++, Visual Basic (I use the least technologies from Microsoft so I didn't write Visual Basic code after that), Java (on my own but didn't like it), HTML, CSS and JavaScript (again and now I focus on web development) and finally knew Python at a conference and started learning it by myself.

I like to dedicate enough time when working on a project, thinking how to solve a problem, taking some notes and writing ideas on a notebook, learning new technologies when needed, reading documentation, writing code and trying.

It takes me a few hours, a day, some days, a month and so on to finish a project, it depends on the time I have to work on it. Spending a weekend working on a project, collaborating with other people, it doesn't sound as a bad idea, but sometimes not sleeping or sleeping on the site of the event, drinking coffee or any energetic drink, eating food like pizza, is not a good option for me and my health.

In the past I used to spend days not sleeping well or days awake, with an unhealthy diet, working on a project, reading about a technology that I was interested about, preparing a conference, etc. And all of those things affected my health at some point.

Now I care about my health. I try to sleep a little more and not spending days awake working on anything. I follow a healthy diet (most of the time), work out frequently and I'm the kind of developer who write code without drinking coffee (I left drinking coffee two years ago).

Indeed, I recommend, specially to students, to participate at hackathons as it's a way they can improve their coding skills, learn from mentors, meeting interesting people and have the opportunity to meet their future co-founders. I have also organized a few ones.

I'm normally not a social person but what I like the most about attending a conference, local or abroad, is meeting interesting people, know other cities and cultures. I believe that something that I would do after participating at a hackathon is going to sleep and not doing any other activity.

So I decided that hackathons are not for me. But I Would like to attend a hackathon as mentor, well, at least that's what I used to think a few years ago.

I contacted a few hackathons and entrepreneurship events to offer my participation as mentor, they never answered. I started to think that I wasn't capable of being a mentor, even with the years of experience contributing to FOSS projects, participating and co-founding tech communities, writing code for many years and speaking at conferences.

Yes, the imposter syndrome, that so many times has made me doubt in sending proposals to a CFP or attending an event. But now I know that I was looking for in the wrong place where to share my expertise.

Last year I joined the Mozilla Open Leaders (@MozOpenLeaders) program as featured expert in the round 5 and as mentor in round 6, after graduated from the round 4 in December 2017. And I'm returning this year as featured expert in round 7.

Last December I joined the PyCon USA mentorship program and helped, with Jacob Kaplan-Moss, reviewing and giving feedback to a few proposals sent to the CFP of the event.

I have also been mentor at tech communities and to some friends, developers and designers. Anyway, while I will not participate at a hackathon, I'm available to speak and mentor at your event.

Remember, this is only my personal opinion. It's up to you to give a try and participate and I encourage you to do it.

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