I used to be afraid of Hackathons. The idea of coding an application or anything for 24-48 hours is pretty intimidating to me. I participated in an Appathon competition for the first time last semester – my team actually won the competition! Why was I so afraid of Appathons/Hackathons in the first place?
- I am afraid of losing sleep. I am not used to pulling an all-nighter
- I thought that I don’t have the right skills to actually code an application in a short amount of time
- I just don’t have the balls to code for 24-48 hours, in general
So, for those of you who are afraid of hackathon/appathon events, I hope the points that I laid down below can help you grow some MASSIVE BALLS (balls of steel ) in order to participate in hackathon events.
1. It is not about skills; it is about attitude
I stated that I was afraid of hackathons because I thought I didn’t have the right skills to participate in it. I never had any experience coding an Android application before and I had to do it in 48 hours. Skills doesn’t matter much when you are participating in a competition where you need to work for 24-48 hours. What matters is your attitude and your willingness to learn. I was browsing for code snippets and tutorials all the time when I was participating in the Appathon. I was relying on Google all the time because I have NO EXPERIENCE in mobile application development.
One of my seniors recently participated in a 24-hour case competition. He worked with 2 other students. He told me something that he had learned after participating in the competition:
Skills doesn’t matter when you are participating in such competitions. What’s important is that you need to have the right attitude.
He told me it is important to not be egoistical when it comes to learning. You need to have that strong perseverance and not give up easily when things started to get tough. Most importantly, don’t give yourself excuses if you can’t do something. Find a way to do it and don’t give up!
2. Learning new skills is not scary
You know that I am not a fan of group work – I just don’t find them useful because I will either end up working alone or I’ll be dissatisfied with the work quality delivered by my team members. For the appathon, I urge you to work in teams; work with a group of people that are as motivated as you and who are also passionate about learning. I urge you to work in teams because you can actually learn new skills by observing your team members.
I learned a lot from Gaze and Mr. Genius (my team members). From Gaze, I learned more about Adobe Illustrator. She was in charge with designing our mobile application and she was using Illustrator the whole time. I was observing the approach that Mr. Genius had taken in order to develop a particular functionality. Just like me, Mr. Genius had 0 experience in developing Android applications. However, he managed to pull it off by Googling endlessly and also via trial and error. I also observe the way Mr. Genius debug his code. I learned more about teamwork and I gained more skills from the Appathon compared to any of my group project.
3. Meeting & getting to know new people is not scary
There are students from my university who participated in the Appathon. At first, I didn’t know them that well and we never actually talk when we see each other. I get to interact with them during the Appathon and I manage to stay close with some of them after the competition. I also get to interact briefly with other participants. Meeting new people is not really that scary, you know.
4. You are also allowed to sleep, actually
It is not forbidden to sleep (unless stated otherwise by the competition organizer ) during the hackathon/appathon and it is completely up to you if you want to sleep or not. It shouldn’t be a problem if you know how to use your time wisely. If sleeping is very important to you, make sure not to procrastinate during the hacking event. Taking breaks is important but make sure that you know how to manage your time wisely. If you are working in a team, setting up shifts can be very helpful as well. Decide who is going to continue with the code if one of you need a break.
So if you are afraid of joining a hackathon event, I hope the points that I listed above can help you overcome your fears. Most importantly, try and have fun during hackathons/appathons – you never know until you try it.