As many of you may have heard (and if you haven’t you can get the latest scoop from our Facebook and Twitter pages), Ashe Avenue is a Gold Sponsor of this year’s hackNY’s Student Hackathon, hosted in NYC Sept. 29 & 30. We’re excited to be a part of this great event and wanted to offer some a few survival tips on how to not only survive, but thrive during a hackathon (not an easy feat!).
Here’s the first thing you should know: hackathons are not for the weak. They require long hours, lots of determination and the ability to work both as an individual and a team. If you think you’ve got what it takes, keep reading as we’ll drop some knowledge on how to come out on top.
At hackathons, people do a lot of staring, sitting and coding- it’s kind of what they’re made for. But it’s also important to pay attention to your physical and mental wellbeing. After all, you want to stay sharp and make the most of your experience. First off, make sure you’re well rested and caught on up those Zzz’s – it’ll help you focus during the long hours and keep you on track to hit the deadline. Second, don’t forget to get up and move around during the event – sitting at a desk haunched over a computer will hurt the next day (a lot), plus getting up and walking around gives your brain a chance to re-boot – you never know when inspiration will strike. It is also important to bring a change of clothes and some toiletries (at least a toothbrush). Keeping body odor and bad breath under control goes a long way towards building team chemistry.
Know what you’re getting into. There are different types of hackathons that attract different types of people. Is it hyper-competitive and all about winning? Or is it more relaxed with an emphasis on learning? Think about the work you’ll be doing. Some hackathons are geared towards public service and open data, while others are more entrepreneurial, looking to spawn the next big start-up. Find the one that bests fits your interest – it’ll help keep you motivated and who knows – you may be onto the next BIG thing.
Unlike Facebook, don’t expect to have full culinary support during the hackathon, but you should look for something beyond Pizza and Red Bull. This is a different ballgame than six hours of Xbox, so it’s best to take a healthier approach, rather than filling up on junk that makes you prone to crashing out. Getting out to a local café or coffee shop is good for your stomach, good for your legs and a nice break for your cranium.
Perhaps this is the most valuable part to a hackathon – the ability to learn, collaborate, network and create. Hackathons are unique experiences for all involved- participants rarely work for a weekend-straight, and by the same token, unless you’re named Facebook or Google, companies rarely use tech binges to solve problems or launch new products. Hackathons are a productive break from the norm, and whether you’re a student learning the ropes or a senior corporate executive, there are many positives to be gleaned from a weekend bender.
Good luck to all of those participating in this year’s hackNY – we’re looking forward to seeing what you create.
Help your fellow hackathon brother or sister out – what are your survival tips?