Why is everyone talking about hackathons?

By: Josh Newell

Our team just spent a week in New York for iHeart’s hackathon #ihearthackweek. About 50 engineers stayed in a giant house outside of the city for 5 days making connections, getting inspired, and learning new hacks.

A hackathon is an event where engineers come together to build and launch new tech. Generally, participants work together over a few days in a single location to collaborate on new projects — and the projects don’t always relate to their day jobs. Are they worth all of the hype? Definitely.

Here are 5 reasons you should go to a hackathon:

Learn something new

The whole point of a hackathon is to dive into something new that you’re not currently working on. This provides the opportunity to learn new things and step outside of your typical day-to-day professional mindset.

Meet other rad engineers

One of the biggest perks is the networking. We made some incredible connections at Hack Week! Everyone who attends these events are eager to learn new things, share ideas, and think outside of the box — basically, it was a house full of innovative engineers who just want to make stuff. Does it get any better than that?

Challenge yourself

Hackathons are definitely challenging because you’re working on projects that are outside of your normal scope of work and work environment. These challenges are  great though because they put you in a different state of mind for a few days. It’s amazing what kinds of ideas spark when you’re challenging yourself and breaking away from routine. 

Beef up your skills

One of the common myths about hackathons is that you have to be some sort of super coder to attend. The truth is, there will be people from various backgrounds (i.e. marketing, product management, developers, etc.) at most hack events. Hackathons are a great chance to beef up your skills and update your resume!

Have some fun

Honestly, the most important thing to remember is that these events are supposed to be fun. Whether you’re solving complex problems, building really unique tech solutions, or singing karaoke at the end of a long day, you should be enjoying yourself. Our team even had some time to float around the pool on giant flamingo floaties! 

There’s something to be said about an environment that is buzzing with energy, full of furious keystrokes, and the constant chatter of inspired teams. For all of these reasons, and more, you should definitely consider attending a hackathon.