Hackathon 101: A Survival Guide

Yingyu Sun Computer Science, Professional & Academic, Viterbi Life, Yingyu Leave a Comment

Welcome to the world of hackathons! For those of you just discovering the excitement of hackathons, here’s some more information to get rid of the myths that hackers are mysterious techies working for secret government organizations. In reality, hackathons are prime opportunities to create, build and innovate over the span of two days. With a number of technical workshops to attend, hackathons are a great place to learn new technologies and complete projects of your own!

I attended HackSC during my freshman year and I loved the environment! Wherever I went, teams were creating amazing projects, from games to mobile apps and virtual reality experiences. My team built a simple iOS alarm clock that required users to get up and move around to turn off the alarm. For all of us, it had been our first hackathon and our first time ever making an iOS app – and it worked out!

HackSC, my first hackathon!

While I love the hackathon experience, it was mysterious and intimidating at first. Don’t think of a hackathon as a competition, but rather an opportunity for learning, meeting new people and channeling your creativity! Here are just a few tips to make your first hackathon experience worthwhile:

  1. Check out the workshops! If you’re still looking for project ideas, workshops are the place to go. You can learn the basics to get started on a project, and you’ll have mentors to help you along the way!
  2. Talk to people! Even if you already have a team, you never know who you could meet at a hackathon. From company sponsors to students at other schools, you can always build a network of friends to meet again at more hackathons!
  3. Define your own victory. It’s up to you to set a goal for your first hackathon, and it doesn’t have to be to win a prize. Whether you want to learn a new technology or finish your first project, whatever you accomplish is a victory. Be proud of yourself for attending your first hackathon and look for more opportunities at the next!

Hopefully these tips will encourage you to go out to the next hackathon coming up! Who knows, I might even run into you there. Until then, code on!

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Yingyu Sun

Yingyu Sun

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