"Hackathons are where your crazy idea becomes a reality." -Alex Kern

What comes to mind when you think of a computer programmer? Is it a nerdy-looking guy that has a talent for all things that involve Information Technology? On the other hand, in your mind, is a computer coder a person who looks like the computer expert at your nearest electronics shop?

Though there are deep-rooted stereotypes that paint coders as persons who look intellectual and predominantly men, in recent years, programmers have come from a wide variety of backgrounds, nationalities, and ages. Also, more and more women are seeking employment as programmers. Programmers are necessary individuals who solve things through code.

Now, what about hackers? What comes to mind when you hear the term hacker? Is it a person with bad intentions in a dim light room that does terrible things on the internet? While certain beliefs about hackers are well-founded, hackers can be likened to computer programmers with an edge!

While the term "hackathon" has "hack" in the word and leads people to believe that there is a negative connotation, computer programmers participated in hackathons from all parts of the world. So, let's learn more about hackathons and what all their fuss is about without further delay!

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What is a Hackathon?

programmers engaged in work
Computer programmers take part in hackathons to collaboratively and speedily work on coding and computer science projects together. (Source: Unsplash)

As we previously mentioned, hackathons are not harmful and shouldn't be viewed as something illegal or negative. But, what are they exactly? For everyone to understand more effectively, hackathons are computer design sprint-like events where computer programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects.

Hackathons are friendly and collaborative competitions that have the goal of creating functioning hardware or software by the end of the event that can be used by computer users. However, it's important to state that most hackathons have a specific focus, and participates are asked to create something that may include the following aspects of computer science:

  • Programming language, 
  • Creating a helpful application, 
  • A specific operating system,
  • Modifying an API. 

Hackathons are also known as hack days, hackfests, datathons, or codefests by persons depending on where they are located in the world.

In most situations, hackathons are a way for computer programmers to unite their forces and talent with others to establish something worthwhile in the tech industry. To give our readers more of an idea of what is made during a hackathon, the following is a brief list of some of the computer science technologies that have been created in past hackathons:

  • Creating a blog from scratch, 
  • Perform data visualisation with Python programming code, 
  • Creating a game using JavaScript, 
  • Building a technological tool that predicts and highlights the weather, 
  • Establishing an intelligent assistant for corporate offices. 

The previously mentioned things were created in the past, and they may still be used in hackathons today since the hosting organisation is the one that establishes the terms, objectives, and the result of the hackathon. Hackathons have existed since the 1990s; however, they gained more traction in the mid to late 2000s.

While all hackfests are different depending on the technology company or organisation that has planned them, most hackathons have similar purposes and types and are completed for the following reasons:

  • To create an app,
  • To learn and practice a new programming language or framework, 
  • To solve a particular problem for a cause or a purpose, 
  • As a tribute or memorial to someone who loved computer science,
  • To address a specific demographic,
  • To improve the innovation of the company or organisation in question, 
  • To connect local tech teams, 
  • To participate in code sprints against others. 

If you have experience as a computer programmer and looking to hone or amplify your general expertise, we remarkably suggest taking part in a hackathon. But, where? Read the following paragraph to find out where hackathons are located.

How to Locate a Local Hackathon

If you're new to the world of computer science and programming and your colleagues don't know anything about hackathons, it may be quite a challenge to find hackathons to participate in. So, if you're living in a town or city in the United Kingdom, you might be asking yourself, where can I locate a hackathon?

Thankfully, since hackathons have been rising in popularity, many experts suggest certain websites worth taking a look at to find a local hackathon in your area. Such as? The following are a few websites to visit:

  • Major League Hacking: an organisation dedicated to helping hackers worldwide, the Major League Hacking site helps those going to hackathons, when and where some might occur, and how to plan one effectively.
  • Devpost: Many hackathons that are taking place use Devpost to help you find a team, submit a project, and look at other hackathon projects that are occurring either in-person or online.
  • Hackalist: open source and easy to use, the Hackalist site helps you find hackathons worldwide, and you can use the filters to show only hackathons that offer travel reimbursements, have prizes, and allow secondary school students to attend.

It's worth mentioning that many computer programmers will admit that collaboratively working with other like-minded individuals from the computer science sector was one of the most extraordinary experiences of their life. If you liked your experience of participating in a hackathon so much, you could even create one with the connections you have in the tech world.

Although the previously mentioned websites are great for locating different types of hackathons, when are the most popular hackathons in the UK typically held? Take a glance at the following subheading to find the answer!

When are Hackathons in the UK?

hackathons are everywhere
There are hackathons across the UK and the world that are constantly taking place. (Source: Unsplash)

Since hackathons are created by different organisers year after year, it's almost impossible to pinpoint a hackathon with a specific date that happens annually. Nonetheless, some online resources are created to empower computer programmers interested in hackathons to participate in local hackfests. The following are two UK-based sites showing hackathons in nearby cities or towns:

It's worth stating that even though many hackathons are held in-person throughout different towns and cities across the United Kingdom since hackathons involve the most brilliant minds in the tech world, it's usually prevalent to take part in hackfests that are conducted virtually on video conferencing platforms.

What if you feel that you're not a good enough programmer to embark on a hackathon? Skills can be learned, and there are plenty of helpful tips and tricks in the following subheading that discusses how to succeed during hackathons.

The Best Tips and Tricks to Take Part in Hackathons

the job tasks of hackers
When a person hears the term "hackathon", they might assume that it's an illegal event completed by rogue computer programmers. (Source: Unsplash)

Whether you're a beginner programmer or you have years of experience in the field of computer science, you should take the time to participate in a hackathon. But, why? Won't taking part in a hackathon prevent me from giving my all to my current job as a software engineer or computer programmer?

While it is true that we can quickly come up with a million reasons not to do something, the following are fundamental motives that make participating in a hackathon a no-brainer:

  • Practice your computer programming of software engineering skills in real-life situations, 
  • Have the fantastic possibility to meet like-minded professionals from the computer science sector and create lasting networks for the future, 
  • Meet and participate in hackathon activities with experienced mentors who can teach you so many valuable lessons, 
  • Learn more about new technologies and needs in the field of computer science. 

While all of the previously mentioned reasons to participate in a hackathon are fine and dandy, some might still feel insecure and view their abilities are too insignificant to enjoy a hackathon fully. However, by considering the advice of more experienced ones, success can be achieved when joining a hackathon!

The following are some brilliant tips that will indeed cause you to win a hackathon victoriously:

  • Prepare in Advance: successfully winning a hackathon means preparing yourself ahead of time by knowing which technologies will be used and the tournament's objectives for all teams. Being up-to-date will all the code and technologies is a brilliant idea to ensure success.
  • Set Goals: by having short and long term goals, you are setting yourself up for success from the beginning of the hackathon to the end of it. Goals such as efficiently setting up your workstation or dedicating time to brainstorm ideas are all fantastic objectives that set you up for success.
  • Communicate: most hackathons involve persons working together to win the competition; therefore, you need to have good communication with your team, the mentors, and the organisers. Without regular contact, it's impossible to manage and assign roles to each member of the team.

In conclusion, taking part in a hackathon is a brilliant idea for computer programmers, whether face-to-face or virtually, since they will more thoroughly appreciate their employment sector and create bonds with fellow coding junkies!

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.