As a student, you might be considering which extracurricular activities can boost your CV and give you a head start when you begin your professional journey. One of the very best options is to take part in a hackathon, which are becoming increasingly popular in higher education institutions and are a fantastic way to foster teamwork, creative problem-solving as well as hone your hard skills.
What is a Hackathon?
A hackathon is a social coding event where entrepreneurs, coders and computer programmers come together to create or improve on a software program.
Hackathons vary, but the premise is usually the same: you get together in groups, have a day to work on your project, then present your work to the other hackathon participants.
It’s not just higher education institutions that host hackathons; large companies also organize them to produce creative ideas and solutions. For example, Facebook is known for regular hackathons that has led to the creation of things like the company’s Like button, Facebook Chat and Timeline.
What are the benefits of taking part in hackathons?
Participating in your student hackathon is a great way to develop new skills, improve your team-working abilities and make your CV look more attractive to potential employers.
Here are 10 of the main benefits that you can enjoy by getting involved in a hackathon:
1. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment
Anyone can get involved in a hackathon, regardless of their skill levels.
Everyone who completes a hackathon always comes out with an immense feeling of accomplishment. Whether you are highly skilled in a particular area or are a complete beginner, you will learn so much throughout the day, and come out of it with a tangible demo that you’ll be showcasing to a room of your peers – it would be hard not to feel proud of yourself after that!
2. You’ll learn new technical skills
There’s no better way to learn new technical skills than by participating in a hackathon. It’s a great opportunity to brush up on your technical knowledge or get to grips with the basics if you’ve never done anything technical before.
You’ll also get support along the way to help you pick up these skills even faster.
3. You’ll get to grips with new technologies
At some higher education institutions, the hackathon team will partner with different tech companies so you can use their systems or technologies.
This helps you to learn about some of the best software in the industry and prepares you for working in one of these companies when you graduate.
Some hackathons are centered on specific new technologies – blockchain or drones, for example – so participants can get a basic understanding of the new technologies that they may need later on in their careers.
4. You’ll get the chance to network
Networking is one of the most important benefits of hackathon. You’re surrounded by a room of like-minded students who all want to learn, collaborate and create the best project possible.
These are great people to build a strong relationship with, and your relationship could also go much further than just the hackathon itself.
It’s also a good chance to meet mentors, industry professionals and corporate sponsors who may be involved in the event.
5. You’ll improve your CV
When employers are looking at CVs, they’re always looking for things that make a candidate stand out.
By having a hackathon on your CV, employers will see that you are someone who likes to take initiative, be challenged and constantly learn new things – all extremely attractive traits for a potential employee.
6. You’ll enhance your soft skills
Hackathons aren’t all about the hard, technical skills that you learn along the way – you’ll also develop some key soft skills, too.
For a successful career in a technical field, you will need a mix of hard and soft skills, and a hackathon will help you develop both.
And even if you’re dreaming of a job in a non-technical field, you’ll learn the essential communication, problem-solving and collaboration skills that will benefit you in any professional sector.
7. You’ll meet experienced industry professionals
Industry professionals are often invited to the hackathon so they can help students get the most out of the event.
They’ll be there to mentor you, give you advice on your ideas and provide tips on the best ways to execute your ideas.
These professionals will give you a chance to get an insight into a potential future career path and learn more about the business concerns and focuses that are affecting different industries today.
8. You’re taking a risk
When you graduate, you will need to learn when and how to take risks in a professional environment, and a hackathon is a perfect environment to start experimenting with this.
Because the hackathon is not a real business scenario, you can afford to take risks that you wouldn’t normally be able to in a real job setting.
It’s a time when you can experiment with new ideas and think outside the box without having to consider any major impacts on your company – so make the most of it!
9. It could lead you to a new startup
Hackathons are a great way to meet potential business partners and come up with an idea for a potential new startup.
Many hackathon teams come up with fantastic ideas that have real-world applications – and, once the hackathon is over, they get to work making their idea happen.
10. You’ll learn team-building skills
The final benefit of participating in a hackathon event is the experience you get working with a team of people from different fields and perspectives.
You’ll be able to develop your communication skills and how to work with other people. These are skills that every employer wants in a new recruit.