In recent years, a peculiar event has gained in popularity among the technology crowd – the Hackathon. The word “hack” may make it sound sinister given the negative connotations that surround it, but in this case hack is being used to describe building or making something. If you are not yet familiar with the term, a Hackathon is a group coding competition where programmers, developers, project managers, graphic designers, etc. attempt to create innovative and usable/functioning hardware or software by the end of the competition. The competitions are sometimes one day, a weekend, or in some cases an entire week and are usually hosted by a tech company or organization.

A Hackathon is not about forcing people to solve difficult, real world problems in a short amount of time, or creating something just to win a prize. It is about promoting positive collaboration, helping people hone their technical skills, and sharing real world experience with other technical minded individuals that you may not have had a chance to interact with otherwise.

There are so many Hackathon events all around the globe that it would be impossible to speak about all of the variances but I will mention a few. You can have hackathons that are based on a particular platform like mobile apps, operating systems, or gaming systems. Some are based on a specific coding language such as HTML5, JavaScript, etc. Others are intended for particular groups, like college students, teenagers, or women.

Corporate Hackathons organized by companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google and are developed to help encourage employees to participate in new product development. This year, the Microsoft Hackathon (which is in its fifth year) had more than 23,500 global participants that teamed up on more than 5,850 separate projects!

If you are a just starting out in the technical field or have been in it for years and think hackathons are something you may be interested in, you can visit this site to find out where one may be in your area. And since no blog post would be complete without a list, here is a short one that gives a few reasons I think participating in a Hackathon is a good thing:

• You could win a prize!
• You will have most likely have fun time
• There are plenty of great people and ideas to draw inspiration from
• It would be a great place for networking
• It provides a sense of accomplishment
• Would look great on a resume (or college application if that is your current situation)
• You can learn new technical skills or brush up on ones you already have
• Improve soft skills like collaboration and communication

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