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Cover image for [Road to Coding Job] #3 Hackathons!

[Road to Coding Job] #3 Hackathons!

mithraperera profile image Dev of Myth ・3 min read

Hello! It has been a while! I am disappointed that I have not kept up with this series but I promise to do better. It has been a very busy month or...2...I don't even know anymore. It has been hard to keep track. Full time school, a part time job and learning to code has been challenging but I haven't made it any easier on myself.

Over the past 2 months I have been competing in back to back business and engineering competitions. I have also really found myself being addicted to hackathons and figure I would go through what you need to know if you are interested in getting into them as well. So lets jump in!

Things to know about Hackathons for a beginner Hacker

1. Where to find them

I have been finding all my local hackathons hosted through the different universities in my country but 2 resources are your go to place if you want to find global ones.
A. Major League Hacking
B. Devpost

Both of these resources are fantastic and if you get into the hacker scene, you will definitely hear of them or use them.

2. You don't know anyone

Trust me, I know how you feel. Since it was my 5th year, all my friends had graduated and I did not know anyone going into my first hackathon. However, this current online format makes it quite easy to find a team on Discord. Don't be shy! If you are new, believe me when I say you are not the only one and if you just post you experience and skills, I am sure that you will get messages to form a team.

The hacker community is very friendly and I have made a lot of friends. Just be willing to learn and help in whatever way you can.

3. What skills should you know

A lot of people say that you don't need to know anything to join hackathons but I will take a different approach. I have done a bunch now and there is 1 common theme I see at every one I have been too.

People always want to build a web app with:
Frontend
HTML, CSS, JavaScript and React
I don't know what it is about React as I haven't learned it yet but everyone always wants to use it haha!

Backend
Python - and some framework like Flask and Django
or Javascript with Node.js

Database
MySQL or MongoDB

Other
Firebase

You can also learn some design skills like Figma and Photoshop to help with the creative side of things.

Main thing you have to think is, if I join a hack team, what can I contribute? If the answer is nothing, do not join a team with aspirations of winning. There are plenty of people who are beginners as well and would love to figure out something basic with you. So do not fear!

4. How do I win?

My team has won 2 hackathons thus far with honorable mention on another and I can give you a few tips if that is your goal as well.

First, you want to form a team with good experience and complementing skills. For example a team of 4 could have 2 frontend hackers with 1 of them having some good design skills and the other 2 being good backend developers.

Second, you want to pick an idea that solves a real problem. I think I have done pretty decent in hackathons because of my entrepreneurial background and that I am always looking to improve things and solve problems. Hackathons are kind of like starting mini tech startups in a 24 hour period.

Lastly, spend time creating a good submission on Devpost(usually where hacks are submitted). You want to clearly explain the problem, your solution, your tech stack and how you developed the solution. This is where the creative on the team can come in handy with creating a nice video and graphics to jazz up the submission.

Conclusion

Hope this helps any other fellow newbies! Hackathons have become a real passion of mine and I don't think I will ever stop doing them. They scratch my coding and entrepreneurship itch at the same time and I love that I always make new friends along the way.

Let me know in the comments if I missed any tips as I would love to learn them as well.

Happy Hacking!
-Dev of Myth

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