Don’t be scared to register as an individual and then join a team
Scared to sign up on your own? We understand. The idea of your first hackathon is intimidating enough, but to sign up alone? That’s almost too much. Don’t fear though — most hackathons have a “team formation” process for people just like you to join after checking in. It’s a time when both individuals and teams who are looking for additional members come together to form teams based on individual skill sets.
Never underestimate what you can contribute
When people hear “hacking” they automatically think it must be all about computer programming – this is not the case! The real amazing benefit of a hackathon is giving you the opportunity to work with people from different fields and disciplines to create innovative ideas – skills in coding, engineering, science, design, business, data, and heaps of others areas are all useful to your team.
Opt for the healthy snacks
It’s hard to resist the free cookies, cheetos and coke, but if you look just to the side of the delicious junk food snacks, there will be a plethora of healthier options. Hackathons take a lot of energy, both mentally and physically, so the best thing you can do for your body is fuel it properly. Otherwise, you could crash before you finish your project – and no one wants that.
Never be scared to ask for help
We’ve heard it a thousand times – don’t be afraid to ask for help. This couldn’t be more true when participating in your first hackathon. Hackathons give you rare access to individuals with years of experience across many different fields and areas. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity and use the hackathon’s communication platform to ask for help. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the response you get.
View this as an opportunity to learn
Hackathons are a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills, sharpen existing ones and meet new people in the industry. Your first hackathon will allow you apply the skills and projects you’ve learned through your coursework to help solve real-life issues.
Take breaks to enjoy workshops and games
Working around the clock on a project can be stressful and intense. That’s why hackathon organizers like to plan both informational workshops and fun activities throughout the weekend. It can be hard to step away from your projects, but a lot of the scheduled workshops are theme-focused and designed to help inspire participants’ ideas. So, when you are in need of a fun mental break, take a few minutes to play a round of ping pong, bags or any other fun activity that might be at the hackathon.
Talk with other teams
Your team thinks they have the winning idea, so when another team comes over late Saturday night asking what you’ve come up with, you put your guard up. But what if that other team is just looking to chat and praise you for your awesome idea? Hackathons are so much more than a competition. They’re meant to be an inclusive, collaborative space that facilitates building awesome software and prototypes. Don’t let your ego get in the way of that. Plus, what’s the likelihood that another team can copy your idea in a few short hours? Pretty unlikely.
Don’t sweat it if your project doesn’t work out
The competition aspect is just one small part of the hackathon. It’s not uncommon for your project to not work, or crash at the last minute! Just focus on learning, having fun, and making new friends. At the end of the day the skills you learn and the friends you make might lead to the next big thing—but you don’t have to do that to win a hackathon.