Why should you take part in a Hackathon?
A hackathon is an event based on a specific topic or theme where teams of developers work collaboratively to create a fully functioning website within the time frame of the event, which can range from 24 hours to several days.
So why are they so popular? And how can you benefit from taking part in one?
Usually students and developers looking for their first position in the industry have only ever worked on projects solo, so taking part in a hackathon can give you an insight of what it's like to work collaboratively as part of a developer team.
2. Try out some agile & scrum methods
Taking part in a hackathon allows participants to gain some experience of some of the agile methodologies used by real developers such as sprints - a defined block of time to complete a specified task. Real developers may work in sprints that last a few weeks - but in a hackathon things are condensed down - so your sprints may only a few hours.
Hackathons are also a great place to practice scrum principles - like using kanban boards to track issues or assigning a team member to be the scrum master - a person who keeps an overview of the tasks to be completed and checks in regularly with the team to make sure they will hit their target, finds out of there are any blockers to work being completed.
3. Brush up those soft skills
Hackathons also give you chance to work on those important soft skills - things like time management, communication and presentation to name a few. These skills are definitely something employers are looking out for!
4. Learning Git
Branches, setting upstreams, pull requests, merge conflicts - learn all about these and more when you take part in a hackathon! Learning to use Git within a team environment is a great way to practice these skills in a safe environment - and gives you the edge over others applying for positions that have only ever worked on their own.
5. Getting involved in the community
Hackathons can be a great way to get involved in the tech community and learn from other developers, and are a great way to make some new like-minded friends with similar interests.
6. A way to boost your learning
Each time I take part in a hackathon I am amazed at the end by the sheer amount I learn from the other members of my team, from the most junior members to the seasoned pro's.
Hackathons are also a really great way to be introduced to and try out new technologies you may not have used before.
7. Looks great on your CV
Sharing your hackathon projects on your CV, Linked In and GitHub profile could give you that advantage over other junior developers seeking their first position - and can also give you something great to talk about during an interview!
8. Reading code written by others
This is a super useful skillset to develop - when you start work as a developer, you will usually be working within an established codebase - so being able to read and understand code written by others is a fantastic skill to start developing as soon as possible!
I've saved the best reason to take part in a hackathon for last - Fun! Although you will learn a lot from taking part in a hackathon, that is not the main purpose of one - having fun with your team should be the number one priority - and I've yet to meet someone who didn't have a blast taking part in a hackathon!
I hope this list has helped you decide if taking part in a hackathon is worthwhile - and if you're a Code Institute student or alumni, I look forward to hopefully seeing you at a future hackathon 😊