So after hearing excellent reviews about our hackathons, you have decided to take the plunge and attend a hack. But unsure of exactly how to get the most of the experience, you are stuck. But don’t worry! If this is your first time ever attending a hackathon (or otherwise), here are our tips of what to expect.
- Registration. Make sure you fill out all details on the registration form. Your phone number should be current. Have your resume updated. Provide us links to your LinkedIn and Github profiles along with other links that showcase YOU. We will be screening profiles as many of our hackathons are invitation only. Register well in advance of the hack. Keep yourself informed of any last minute changes in schedule.
- Learn as much as you can. Once selected, (whew, first hurdle cleared!), we will send you a list of relevant learning resources. Make use of them! Also, use the time to learn more about the company, and the company culture. (Company description and videos on the webpage are there for a reason you know:) )
- Find team members. The old adage “two heads are better than one” applies here. Most of our hackathons REQUIRE you to work in teams, so make sure you find suitable teammates that complement your skills. Join our Vhackers facebook group where you can collaborate and interact with the hackers attending our hackathons and online challenges. Interact with as many people as you can. They are there to help!
- Release of the problem statement. Depending on the requirements of a particular hack, we release the problem statement two days before. If this is the case do not procrastinate! Work on the problem statement. Ideate with your team. Use boilerplate code. You might find that you may need to repeat step 3. (No hard feelings; you are all in it to win it!)
- Day before the hack. Make sure your laptop is in full working order with all relevant software installed. An important point to note is to make sure that all your teammates are using the same IDE. Review the venue details, and make sure to print out the location. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep since you have a long weekend (yes, our hackathons are usually on weekends) ahead!
- Day of the hack: Early morning. You know how it is when on the way to the airport for your dream vacation, you realize you have forgotten your passport? A rude shock isn’t it? So make sure you have all necessary material before heading out. Coordinate with your teammates.
- Day of the hack: Registration. Register yourself and your team. (If you don’t know where to register, just look for people wearing Venturesity T-shirts!)
- Day of the hack: Ideation. Whiteboard more ideas. In some hackathons, you might have to provide us with a design document. Decide on a plan. (One of you might have to work as a product manager. For more information on why a product manager is useful, check out this link.)
- Day of the hack: Company introduction. Once all participants have registered, the company introduces themselves. Listen closely so you have a better idea of the company culture!
- Day of the hack: Lunch time. It sounds cliche to say, but stock up on fuel. This is going to be a long and draining weekend, so food and fluid intake is a must! (I’m sounding like your mother here, aren’t I? But mothers know best, and so…)
- Day of the hack: Post lunch phase. It’s time to start work in earnest! WORK as a team. Do your piece. If stuck, talk to your team or to the hackmasters. Remember, at the end of it all, you are here to learn. We will also be around to assist you.
- Day of the hack: Dinner time. Get up, stretch your legs, and walk around. It’s time for more refreshments. Build up your energy reserves since there is still a long way to go yet.
- Day of the hack: Icebreaker. Remember back when, in your school days, you were struggling through a question on a test? And, after the bell rings, as you hand in your test or as you walk out the door, the answer hits you? It’s frustrating isn’t it? So why does this happen? I won’t go into the full details here, but research has shown that often a solution to a difficult problem hits you once you have spent some time away from it. In our hackathons, (usually after dinner), we organize events designed to give you a little break. These could be in the form of pop quizzes, treasure hunts, music and/or dancing. Participate in these activities! Let your subconscious mind work on the problem while your conscious mind relaxes. (Ooh, very Zen-like of me!)
- Day of the hack: Bedtime? I know that you might want to forgo sleep and work on the interesting problem but sleep is important too! We provide sleeping bags and bean bags, and so make full use of them. Take turns sleeping if you have to. Remember, there is still another day to go.
- Presentation Day: Early morning breakfast. You know the old saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? Well, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. Have your coffee and eggs.
- Presentation Day: Submission. We will provide you with all submission details. Be concise and clear detailing your product, and make sure you outline your contribution. Remember, many of our hackathons are for hiring. There is no use being bashful about your role!
- Presentation Day: Judging. In many of our hackathons, we have a large number of submissions. So, it is not practical for each team to present. As a result, judges from the company involved go around the venue shortlisting the top teams for presentation. Since you will have between 3-5 minutes to showcase your ideas, stick to the most important features of your product. (You might want to rehearse the demo beforehand.)
- Presentation Day: Presentation. Once shortlisted, it’s time to demo your product to the rest of the hackers. Set the scene. Explain why you did what you did and what problem you are solving. Concentrate on the “wow” features of your product. Engage the audience! (For example, you might want to ask an audience member to use your app.)
- Presentation Day: Winner announcement. This is the moment you have been waiting for. Accept your prize with dignity and grace. (That’s right, I can get that cheesy!) We will also announce the winners of the hack through emails and our blog, so keep an eye out.
Well that was a long read! However, whether you are a newbie or not, we are sure you will benefit from the points listed above. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask questions of our old hands who will be more than willing to help you out! Inspired to attend one of our hacks? What are you waiting for? Hop on over to our webpage and choose from our wide variety of hackathons and challenges, and walk away as a winner.
1. The above advice, with some modification, applies to other hackathons you might attend.
2. If you attend hackathons apart from ours, we will kill you.
3. Just joking about point 2.