This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Full-Stack Hackathon hosted by Centriq Training. It was a lot of work and hours crammed into a weekend, but it was worth it and very rewarding!
This past weekend, November 6th, I had the opportunity to work with other awesome Developers and help out a local small business get a web presence. I am going to detail some of my big take-aways from the experience, but by far, the most rewarding part was seeing how excited our clients were when they saw the site we put together for them. For that reason alone, I plan to do more of these.
With that said, there were other great takeaways; let's dig into what I found most helpful.
I have had some experience in the past working on projects gathering requirements from end-users, but this was my first experience gathering the requirements from the business owner, the person who is the most passionate about their business, the person who will expect a good end product if they are going to put their name on it!
It was a lot of fun to chat with the owner and find out more about what they want and need in a site. While we were given a written spec for the site, this was the opportunity to dig in and learn more about their personality and what they want the site to shape up to be. Being able to talk to your client and gather requirements that they maybe didn't even know they wanted or needed. This was a crucial step to provide an end product at the end of the weekend that will WOW them. I think we were effective and included all of the needs in the final product.
As a developer, we are all accustomed to digging into our code to find out what the computer is thinking and fixing our bugs. We are used to how we code and how we structure our code logically. Getting experience looking at someone else's code to help find or fix an issue takes you out of your comfort zone and can give you a new perspective on how to breakdown and approach a problem. When developers work together, a lot of knowledge can be shared. Working with a team was a great experience.
Hackathons are a great chance to meet people who work in the industry. This can be invaluable. You get to work with people who you have never met and expand your network. People are the greatest resource, and hackathons help you meet more people who have the same passions and desires as you.
I found it fascinating that you are constantly evaluating what you're capable of and how much time you have left. Often we come up with many great ideas or features we'd love to see; however, a critical skill to have is knowing what is possible given your constraints of ability and time. The most important thing is to deliver at least a working MVP at the end of your timeline. The constraints make you take a step back and refactor and refine your code to make it more efficient and less time consuming to write, debug, and maintain.
Last but not least, it was fun to do. We all get to do what we love to do, meet some great people, and put a new product out for the world to see and use. In our case, we elevated a small local business, which can change their trajectory.
There isn't always a Hackathon to participate in, but I feel grateful I could attend this event, and I gained a lot of experience both professionally and personally. I will look for my next event to participate in soon!
Contact me anytime to offer feedback, ask a question, or just say hello :)