Hackathons: Catapulting Your Career

Whether you are just starting your tech career or switching careers, attending a Hackathon can be extremely beneficial to you.

The weekend of May 17 developers, programmers, coders, and many more tech fields will come together in NYC for the first ever Open Source ERP Hackathon. Along with competing, attendees will be able to hear presentations from ShipEngine’s Jud Harris and James Messinger, as well as Interaction Designer Nimma Bhusri.

To help you better understand why Hackathons can be great for your career, we’ve put together five tips. These tips fill you in on how to gain knowledge, experience, and network growth by attending Hackathons like ours.


1. Learning Product vs. Production

In a Hackathon, there is rarely enough time to complete a fully finished and polished product.  Therefore, many Hackathon projects have a goal of extending or reiterating on a current solution and improving upon it.

It’s those little improvements  that can make good software better.Think about the number of products that Google has either never released, or quietly abandoned.

Here’s a full list below with some common perceptions about why the products failed:

Google Wave. It could have been Slack.

Orkut. It could have been Facebook.

Google+. It could have been Snapchat or WhatsApp.

Google Hangouts on Air. It could have been Facebook Live or Periscope.

Google Answers. It could have been Quora.

Google Catalog Search. It could have been Pinterest.

Dodgeball. It could have been FourSquare or related social networking site.

Google Notebook. It could have been Evernote.

Google Page Creator. It could have been Squarespace.

Google Video. It wasn’t YouTube.

Google Glass. It should have waited until it was Google Contact Lens before it launched in the consumer market.

Google Knol. There’s plenty of information that can be Wiki-fied like developer documentation for open-source projects. Cloning Wikipedia was not the first thing that needed to be Wiki-fied.

Sometimes it product design that fails, sometimes it is the timing of it all that ruins it.  Engineers didn’t create the product thinking it had no use. There were lessons learned discussions about failure, and then they move on.

2. Team Collboration


Many Hacktahons, including our own, require teams to build the software or tackle the challenge together. Being part of a team means understanding how to work together with others an communicate effectively.

In the tech industry, being an effective communicator can help you succeed tremendously. Working on teams and on collaborations can give you people skills you can’t get from college that will apply to many job environments.

3. Material and Cash Prizes

For serial Hackathon attendees, who attend multiple events per year, cash prizes and awards can make you a celebrity and influencer in the tech world. Companies will notice this winning popularity and you may get some more than generous financial offers.

Think of this as free publicity for your career. There are endless networking opportunites at events like these. It may help you to land that coveted CTO position at a venture backed startup sooner than you think.

4. New Ideas

Some of the best ideas and new innovation solutions come from Hackathons.  In our case, one of the winning teams will have the opportunity to present the prize to a VC firm for potential seed capital.  What better way to make the idea into a reality.


5. Learning a lesson in winning

If not most important tip on this list, you’ll learn that losing is just as impactful as winning.  Ever met a very successful entrepreneur who never lost before?

I never have – because they don’t exist.

Learning to understand how and why your team didn’t win will help you better prepare for the next go around.

You’ve heard what we have to say about it all. Now go win some hackathons!

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