There’s a very common misconception that hackathons are only for hackers. I remember the first time I told my hostel warden that I’ll need a pass to attend a hackathon, his first words were- Can you hack facebook?
A hackathon is a place for people to come compete and build products- usually on a given theme within 24 hours or more. Usually hackathons are attended by professionals or 3rd -4th year students. But here are a few reasons why you should participate in one from year 1.
Hackathons are for learning
Hackathons are like a compressed learning experience. You learn more from one hackathon than what you’ll learn from a month worth of online courses.
Here are a few practical things I learn’t at hackathons
Android Programming – I made my first android app at a hackathon
Importance of UI-UX
Minimum Viable Product-(or how to make it look like you have one)
Stackoverflow solutions don’t always work out
Working on a stringent deadline
How to do version control- [Git](http://rogerdudler.github.io/git-guide/)
Giving pitches – The to-do’s and Not to-do’s
and many more
Now for those who know me well, you would cry
hypocrisy -stating that I have showed close to null signs of this social mix-match that I talk of.
But to them- I have made good friends at hackathons.
Hackathons are a great place to meet like minded people. People who build cool things for fun. I have heard of several stories of people starting companies together becuase they met at hackathons. Hackathons are also career fairs on steroids– One of the good ways of getting an internship/job.
One of the good things about attending a hackathon is to provide you with a reality check on where you stand. Hackathons give a stage to some of the best developers around town. Setting the bar up right from the first year can surely help you boost up your will to learn. So one day even you can turn up at a hackathon like a boss
Get better at pitching- Presenting your idea
Now this is a part that gets me the most because I have stage fright. But participating in a few of these has helped me get over it considerably(not completly).
Usually the judging panel for hackathons are awesome people/mentors who are very supportive even if you do something wrong. They help you out, give tips so that you can improve your product as well as the way you present it.
What if I can’t code?
Many people at hackathons, don’t know coding. But they still do come- to learn. I coundn’t even install Android studio at my first hackathon- let alone code on it.I’ve seen complete beginners at every hackathon I’ve been to. If you’ve never coded before, it’s a great opportunity to spend a weekend learning how to. You’ll be surrounded by experienced coders, willing to help you out. Coding can look pretty difficult, but actually it’s easy to get started.
You must overcome this fear of not being a good coder or not knowing how to code in order to start coding/ building/making cool things just for the heck of it.
What if I don’t have an idea to work on:(
That’s normal. Most people don’t have an idea before they get to the event. But once you start talking to other people, you might come up with something. Or you can always visit IdeaSpace and select an idea that suits you the best and solve real world problems.