A hackathon is a relatively new concept, but an exciting one nevertheless. It is an event where software developers, graphic designers and other computer programmers combine their efforts to create new software or to improve existing software projects. They could be held in relation to a wide range of topics- the music industry, television, space or even neuroscience. Often, hackathons are held as contests with prizes guaranteed for the winners, and this adds a competitive twist to them. There are plenty of positives to being a part of hackathons- read on to discover ten such reasons why we think you should join one:

1)     They are learning opportunities

While striving to create or modify a product, those who are a part of hackathons constantly find themselves having mental stimulation. They accumulate knowledge and information as group members share their ideas and explore different possibilities. In addition to learning about software and coding, participants also get a chance to polish their industry skills such as those required for presentation, team management, problem solving, efficiency etc. The platform is available for members to experiment with technology and through the ‘learning-by-doing’ method it can truly be a first-hand educational experience.

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2)     They help you meet new people

Hackathons bring together individuals with similar interests, who may have diverse ideas that one can learn from. Most coding competitions divide the contestants into groups, which helps develop a healthy rapport among its members as they have to work with each other. It contributes to building a person’s communication and listening skills as he or she has to interact and collaborate with others. Individuals learn to work as a team, sometimes making sacrifices, but ultimately developing confidence because they’re often given tasks that they have to lead. Participants leave a hackathon having made new friends and acquaintances.

3)     They help you grow out of your comfort zone

Hackathons often put pressure on the participants to produce work within a stringent timeframe, often while cooperating with strangers. Although this might sound intimidating, it helps individuals challenge themselves because they’re engaging in intellectual activity in an unfamiliar environment. Hackathons are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and by experiencing something so out of the ordinary, those who are involved can push themselves out of their comfort zones and engage in personal growth.

Picture credit: Pinterest

4)     You can win prizes

Several coding fests are held as competitions and the winners are often awarded a considerable sum as cash prizes. That is, therefore, an interesting element to consider about hackathons as there is a potential for financial gain. If not exactly money, the alternate prizes that are usually offered are just as desirable- for instance, it could be electronic devices. In fact, the title of being a winner alone is equally notable and certainly something worth trying for.

5)     You can make your resume more attractive

Even if one does not emerge victorious in that sense, they can still add their participation and major contributions to the Hackathon on their resumes and make it more impressive. Being a part of a hackathon is certainly a commendable accomplishment that can be used to spruce up one’s CV or resume, which might come in handy for marketing oneself while applying for higher studies or jobs.

6)     It is often done for a good cause

Hackathons are usually conducted for a higher purpose, such as to solve problems for a humanitarian or social issue. They have been conducted by NASA for formulating Space Apps and by the government to improve their functioning. They have been held to improve city local services, the education system, disaster management and crisis response. Another example is one particular event called DementiaHack, which was held to make the lives of people who suffer from dementia and their caregivers better and easier. In this way, it might feel rewarding and satisfying to be a part of hackathons because they help resolve some of the concerns that trouble the society and contribute to its advancement.

7) There is product innovation

Many new applications and other software projects have been birthed at hackathons. As a place where there is rigorous exchange of fresh ideas that are often being put to practice, hackathons help give rise to various consumer technologies, robots, autonomous drones etc. Some examples include a digital keyboard for computers, tweaking the features of an app (for instance, the ‘like button’ on Facebook was created during a hackathon) and so on. So, participating in hackathons gives one a chance to produce or improve an existing digital product, which can certainly be considered as a praise worthy achievement.

8)  There is intense networking and availability of career opportunities

Hackathons are a way to access a multitude of scholarships, placement opportunities, and information on new career choices. Many entrepreneurs have emerged from hackathons, having generated business ideas from the competition. One can connect with local tech communities and have exposure to other professionals because there is often corporate sponsorships and interest in these coding fests, especially mobile app hackathons. Representatives from well-established tech companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft were, more often than not, involved in some of the major hackathons that have been organized so far. It helps build useful contacts and makes for a worthwhile experience. This signifies the impact hackathons can have on one’s future prospects as it opens up a world of possibilities and opportunities.

Picture credit: Pinterest

9)   You can share your own skills

In addition to acquiring more knowledge, hackathons are also the perfect platform for one to exhibit their skills and knowledge. Demonstrating one’s abilities and sharing one’s own ideas can be liberating, and it can contribute to enhancing self-esteem, confidence and leadership qualities. People are rarely judged or criticized for the thoughts and concepts they put forward because hackathons involve learning and growing through experimentation and repeated trials. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase what one is capable of and be absolutely real and authentic.

10) There is increased efficiency

The end results of hackathons are often projects that facilitate better efficiency and flow of work in various organizations. Through coding, several products are created that make sales, marketing, finance etc. considerably easier. In the healthcare industry, for instance, hackathons could work towards creating a global database of patient records that connects all hospitals, thus increasing efficiency and possibly saving many lives. Similarly, hackathons can be conducted bearing any industry or department in mind, so that prevailing issues can be fixed and greater productivity can be ensured within it.

Checkout our interview with Medha Aiyah, the co-founder of UT Dallas’ first ever women-only hackathon!

Hackathons are a must-have experience for everyone interested in coding and technology. Participating in hackathons can overall be very fulfilling and it provides tons of benefits, whether it is personal development or the discovery of a new career path. So, don’t think twice next time such an opportunity crosses your path- make the most of it because there is so much they offer that you may not get from any other similar event or platform. 

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