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Hackathons: All About Bringing Ideas to Real Life

Not sure if Hackathons are the right place to ramp up your ideas? Why should you even participate in one? Let us walk you through what these are and why you should give them a try.

Wooden table with a laptop sitting on it, showcasing a programming app and a male hand on the keyword on the left side of the computer

Lately, Hackathons have been gaining popularity, and if you’re looking to be more involved in the tech field, participating in an event like this can be a great way to start and an even greater learning experience, because it offers you a unique opportunity to build a powerful network. Also, truth be told, the word does sound trendy and cool, but unless you’re involved in the tech industry, you’re left wondering:

What is a Hackathon?

The word comes from the combination of "hack" and "marathon”, so it's a marathon for hackers.

But, in this case, hackers are, essentially, young professionals, students/recent graduates (BCs, MSc or PhD) or researchers interested in creating new solutions in a specific area.

So, essentially, a Hackathon is a competition-style event, usually hosted by a tech organization where participants are invited to join workshops, make presentations, interact with sponsors and communicate with recruiters, besides bringing their innovative ideas to life.

In these competitions, participants are challenged to build prototypes of software applications or develop projects which will then be judged in a variety of categories, including most viable solutions and most innovative/inventive project, for example.

Also, it is important to note that Hackathons are usually theme-based. The organizer chooses a theme that goes along with its business goals and appeals to the right teams, sponsors and partners.

What do people do at these events?

In Hackathons, the main goal is to find the most effective solution to an existing problem. Accordingly, participants come together to discover and develop that solution. Teams will work using new technologies from different types of sources to achieve their goal. This way, not only will participants get the opportunity to create a useful product or project during the event, but at the end, they come together to, team by team, pitch their creations to a panel of judges.

After the presentation is complete, the judges will vote and determine the winners. And did you know that large tech companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft or Bloomberg may be the sponsors of these events and present you with a great prize if you're the winner? Really cool, right?

6 hands standing in the air, in top of each other. below is a wooden table with papers displaying graphics and a white computer, with a black keword, also displaying graphics on the screen

If you’re still on the fence about whether you should give these events a try, let’s talk about the benefits of being involved in one:

If you’re still on the fence about whether you should give these events a try, let’s talk about the benefits of being involved in one:

  • You have the opportunity to meet new people who are there for the same reason as you. Whether it is for a project collaboration, finding a mentor or even potential new clients, Hackathons are the best place to make connections that could be beneficial for you in the future.

  • It gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself – We know it’s easier to stay in your comfort zone, but since you’re participating in a challenging event, why not take the opportunity and challenge what you already know? At events like this, there is no space for a “safe zone”. You’re there to be challenged, consistently, and to push yourself and move outside your comfort zone. From working as a part of a team of people you may – or may not – know, to doing things you never did, Hackathons are a great way to discover new talents, passions and skills and you might just find yours!

  • The amount of knowledge you