By: Faith Bade
The word “hackathon” comes from a combination of “hack” and “marathon”. Hackathons can last 24 hours or longer, with an informal culture (bring your sleeping bag) and food and drinks provided. Teams come to a hackathon fully organized or are formed on the first day. At the end of a hackathon, teams typically present their results. Often, there are contests and prizes. Most hackathons have a specific technology focus (a new app, website, coding, hardware) or a goal of using technology to solve a problem or for the greater good. Hackathons offer a great way to meet new people, learn new things, win prizes, and take home some swag. Plus, you can advance your professional experience and career success. And, btw, hackathons are free!
At Wentworth, we have a student organization called HackWITus. Founded in Fall 2016, HackWITus is one of Boston’s largest student-run hackathon organizations. In the last year, HackWITus has brought together 150+ students from across the country. Students worked on dozens of projects, attended workshops hosted by our exceptional faculty, and developed new skills, broadened their networks, and expanded their career opportunities.
According to Shawn Toubeau, a student organizer with HackWITus, hackathon participants can “connect with others in their profession, learn new tools, and get a sense of what is in demand.” Here in CO-OPS + CAREERS we agree, and we highly recommend that Wentworth students participate in a HackWITus hackathon. Why?Professional Persona
Add your hackathon experience to your resume, LinkedIn profile, and your portfolio. In interviews, talk about your teamwork experience, your efficiency, and the collaborative projects you worked on. Impress employers with your cutting-edge skills and your commitment to staying ahead of the curve. Employers love that students attend hackathons and are learning outside of the classroom. BTW, all majors should try a hackathon. Just like organizations, bringing a diversity of thought, approaches, and skills to solve a problem often results in a better solution. According to Nova Trauben, a student organizer with HackWITus, “everyone brings something to the table.”
Hackathon participants can gain co-ops and full-time jobs. Employers sponsor hackathons and hire students. Showcase your skills, and your ability to collaborate and meet deadlines. Employers will want you to be on their team. At the end of Wentworth’s Spring 2019 Community Build Hackathon, sponsored by Rocket Software, 5 students received co-op offers. HackWITus also offers some higher level sponsors the option to receive a resume book of participants. Hackathons offer you a way to differentiate yourself.
Learn a new software. Expand your coding capabilities. Attend an interesting workshop. Technology is always changing – hackathons help you stay current on technologies and to learn from your fellow hackers. Plus, you can hone your presentation skills. You too can pull off a persuasive and articulate demonstration after 24 hours with little or no sleep!
You never know who you will meet at a hackathon. Sponsoring employers often coach, offer workshops, and judge the outcomes, and Wentworth faculty coach and present workshops. Get to know them all and stay connected. Plus, your teammates will be students from Wentworth and other universities and these connections can last forever.
After participating in last year’s HackWITus, Nova said “It really felt like it jump-started my career.” Come to a hackathon and figure out what you like and dislike. Did you like coding? Did you like developing the product interface or identifying the product’s application? Or presenting? Or managing the team? Hackathon experiences will help you learn more about yourself and where to focus for your next co-op or full-time career.
Who doesn’t want Bose headphones, or Airpods, or an Echo, or gift cards? Or an offer to co-op?
Stay up all night. Meet new people. The culture of hackathons is both intense and very chill. Wear comfortable clothes and bring a sleeping bag. Maybe bring your own Keurig. FYI – bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a change of clothes. (You – and your team members – will thank me for that tip.)
Any other takeaways?
Yes! As Shawn eloquently stated “One of the things that stuck with me after a hackathon ended was perseverance. It’s always hard to stick with something, especially if it’s new to you . . . but I think hackathons teach you to never give up easily and to keep on working at it until you finally get it.” Take a deep dive into something you are passionate about. Find out how fun it is to challenge yourself and work hard and create something (even if you don’t win a prize).
HackWITus is planning their next hackathon on November 9-10, 2019 in CEIS. Sign up now! Shawn, and all of us in CO-OPS + CAREERS, suggest that you “Come with an open mind and an eagerness to learn.” We hope to see you there!
As always, to make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617.989.4101 or stop by the CO-OPS + CAREERS Office.
Summer 2019 Drop-In Hours: Wednesday and Thursday 2:00pm – 4:00pm while classes are in session.