A Students Guide To NYC Hackathons

Hackathons have become a staple event for college students across the world.  Some Hackathons exclusively online, while others are held in person each year. 

The benefits of a Hackathon cannot be understated – prizes, cash, celebrity status for the winning individuals and teams.

In the professional Tech world, there are hundreds of meetups, conferences, events, and social gatherings all vying for a limited amount of time. 

For students, all of these networking events, #techdays, career fairs, Hackathons can seem overwhelming.  With over 1000 hackathons taking place each year, how does a student decide which to attend?

Some Hackathons like Pennapps have over 1100 students attending, while others are smaller and maybe have 50 hackers in attendance.


While it is not the size that necessarily makes a Hackathon successful, we break down the differences and let you know what type of Hackathon may be best for you.

Student-Run Hackathons

These Hackathons are what you come to expect from a college campus.  Hackathons in this group are usually hosted by a specific college or university and may or may accept students from competing or neighboring Universities.

Major League Hacking is a dedicated website aimed at this type of event.  You can search and locate all of the college associated Hackathons around the world on this site.

Whether or not you should attend a student run Hackathon is dependent on three variables:

1. Whether your college or university is actually running a Hackathon

2. Whether you are interested in anyone of the sponsors attending

3. The goals for the event, which can range from very general to very specific.

These student-run hackathons are great for individuals just getting familiar with the concept of the event. It’s the perfect opportuntiy to see how everything comes together in a hackathon and the different processes and procedures that come along with competeing.

On the contrary, students who have plenty of experience with hackathons may be looking for something more than these student-run events offer.

Company-Run Hackathons

If you have ever wanted to work for a company like Google or Microsoft, or Samsung (who happens to be one of our Sponsors) then this type of Hackathon is for you.  Normally the company opens their API (if normally closed) to attendees and participates during the event.

Here are three criteria for deciding on attendance:

1. You want to work for the company providing their API

2. You are actively looking for a job or career path and want to connect with internal employees

3. You are interested in the Sponsors Technology stack

If you know the company and are interested in their stack then you should absolutely get signed up for the event. If you don’t care for the companies and aren’t interested in their stack, these events may not be fit for you.

Community-Run Hackathons

Hackathons held by a community are normally put on by an individual or organization whose sole purpose is bringing geo-located tech community together for a larger goal. 

Our Open Source ERP Hackathon’s primary objective is education.  We have specific programming sessions in Python, Data Science, and many other disciplines.  In fact attendees do not have to be a hacker to attend the event

The criteria for attending:

1. Interest in learning from professionals and exploring different career paths including both engineering and non engineering roles.

2. Looking for a possible internship for the upcoming semester or future job

3. Looking to work with real applications and explore possible investment from a VC or angel investor.

This event will be perfect for students in various tech industries that are interested in finding careers and learning new disciplines. Individuals in design and non-tech related fields may not be able to find much applicable at this event.

While we recommend students participate in all three types of Hackathons, knowing which type of event is best suited to your personality and career options will help you narrow down the Hackathon selection.

And while we are on the topic, why not attend our community Open Source Hackathon in NYC – for just $10/student ticket.

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