6 Tips for Being an Effective Member of a Winning Hackathon Team

rising women Hackathons are intensive events where teams come together to solve complex problems under time pressure. As a hackathon participant myself, I've learned that effective communication, collaboration, and organization are essential to success. In this article, I'll share my experiences and offer tips on how to be an effective member of a hackathon team, drawing from my recent participation in the Rising Women project.

Rising Women is a platform developed by women for women in tech, aimed at promoting successful women in technology, enabling mentorship, and providing networking opportunities. Our team used Django, Python, JavaScript, and Bootstrap 4 to build the platform, which we deployed on Heroku using Cloudinary for cloud storage.

Throughout the hackathon, I learned a lot about teamwork, communication, and problem-solving, and I want to share some tips for being an effective member of a hackathon team:

Communication: Be clear and concise when communicating your ideas. Active listening and asking questions are essential in a limited-time environment like a hackathon. For instance, when we were designing the Rising Women architecture, we made sure to communicate clearly and get feedback from each other before finalizing the components.

Playing to Your Strengths: Identify your areas of expertise and focus on contributing where you can make the most impact. Each team member has unique skills and strengths. Be open to sharing your knowledge and experience while being willing to learn from teammates in areas where you may not be as strong. To illustrate, as a more experienced backend development team member, I focused on coding the database management while other team members with more experience in design and frontend handled those areas.

Collaboration: Be open to others' ideas and perspectives. Work together to come up with the right solution, and create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued. When deciding on the features to include in the Rising Women platform, we considered each team member's input. We came up with a solution that worked for everyone.

Staying Organized: Keep track of your tasks and deadlines. Use tools like GitHub Projects as a Kanban board to keep everyone on the same page. Take breaks and stay hydrated to avoid burnout. For example, we created issues and used GitHub Projects to manage our tasks and deadlines throughout the development. But we also took breaks and stretched to avoid burnout.

Adaptability: Be prepared to pivot and change course if necessary. Stay flexible and be willing to try new ideas or approaches. Sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected sources. Midway through the hackathon, we had to pivot our design of the mentor registration functionality to make it more user-friendly. By imagining ourselves in the end users' shoes, we were able to adapt and amend one of our models as a solution quickly.

Having Fun: Remember that hackathons are meant to be fun and creative. Don't be afraid to think outside the box and enjoy the process! Embrace the challenge, collaborate with your team members, and be proud of what you create together. Our team had a lot of fun coming up with what features to include as an MVP, and we celebrated our progress by taking breaks to speak and joke with each other.

Participating in a hackathon can be a rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. By following these tips and embracing the challenge, you can contribute to your team's success and create something amazing in a short amount of time. Winning 1st place in the Code Institute's Women in Technology 12-20 March 2023 Hackathon was a testament to our hard work, dedication, and teamwork in creating the Rising Women project. I hope this inspires you to join a hackathon or other collaborative events and make a difference in the world of technology.

If you want to see the Rising Women project in action, check out the deployed site. You can also explore the code and learn more about how the project was developed by checking out our GitHub repository. Look out for more features as we continue building on what we've started. Thank you for reading, and best of luck in your future hackathon endeavours!

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Written by Joy Zadan

Full Stack Developer Intern at Squad & a Code Institute alumna with experience in helping organizations solve complex real-world problems using innovative web applications & tech-based solutions


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