Debunking the hackathon experience

Written by: Sabrina Cao

Free food. Restless engineers. Flashy sponsor booths. Free swag. For all of you who are unfamiliar with the hackathon world, it may seem mysterious, exclusively for software developers, and even intimidating. The inspiration to write this blog came to me after watching an episode of Start-Up, where the main characters attend a hackathon before launching their start-up, Samsan Tech. As with all mainstream media, some parts were realistic whereas others were exaggerated. I am here to help you better understand the hackathon experience by uncovering if some of the most common rumours about hackathons are myth or fact:

  • Hackathons are just about software
  • You need a team to attend a hackathon
  • You will be glued to your laptop 24/7
  • You will not sleep for an entire weekend
  • You need to have a lot of experience to participate
  • Unlimited free food and snacks

💻 Hackathons are just about software

In addition, hackathons can involve a plethora of disciplines, including design, hardware, business, and aim to solve a variety of problems such as sustainability, healthcare and cybersecurity. You won’t be hacking into any top-secret databases, but you will be given resources and challenged to solve a complex problem.

You can request hardware parts to build your projects at hackathons!

👋 You need a team to attend a hackathon

Not only will you be spending the majority of the hackathon weekend with your team, you will also be able to meet like-minded peers who are equally passionate about technology and building. Attend fun activities such as cup-stacking and late-night karaoke, talk to the hacker in front of you in the food line, join fun Discord channels, or take a stroll around Sponsor Bay — all are great ways to start building lifelong friendships at a hackathon!

👩‍💻 You will be glued to your laptop 24/7

Hackathons are also a great way to meet company representatives from sponsoring companies, learn about the work that they do, and, of course, grab some free swag. Check out who is going to be at the hackathon beforehand, do your research, and come prepared to meet the sponsors! Hack the North would not be possible without our amazing sponsors, and our hackers manage to storm the Sponsor Bay every year. Check out which sponsors will be attending Hack the North 2020++ here.

Sponsor Bay at Hack the North 2019.

😴 You will not sleep for an entire weekend

Check out our previous blog post to see how you can maximize your hackathon experience and catch a few naps throughout.

👩‍🎓 You need to have a lot of experience to participate

Still feel unprepared? You can also attend Gear Up: Presented by Hack the North on January 12th-15th, which is open to the public. In the week leading up to our hackathon, we will be hosting multiple series of workshops, giving you a deep dive into skills, tools and technologies that will make it easy for you to dream big and build! We will also be hosting tech talks, panels, and career sessions to help you navigate the tech industry.

Into to Git Workshop at Hack the North 2019.

🌮 Unlimited free food and snacks

Sunday brunch at Hack the North 2019.

I hope this blog has helped debunk some of your misconceptions around hackathons and encouraged you to check out the amazing hackathon community. We know that hackathons look a bit different in 2020, but we are hoping, same as you, that we will get a chance to provide the in-person hackathon experience again in the near-future! In the meantime, dream big and build from wherever you are. We hope to see you soon!

Gear Up is scheduled for January 12–15, 2021⚙️
Hack the North is scheduled for January 15–17, 2021 🎉