This past weekend, I attended a 3 day long hackathon, organized with the purpose of bringing together 150 of our region’s techies. With the exception of a few conferences and meetups in Chicago, this was my first *official* hackathon. I had made it one of my goals to get involved more in the tech community by attending hackathons earlier this year. I figured attending a smaller, local one would be a good introduction for me.
Therefore, feeling a potential fight or flight situation occurring I set a mental plan of action before going.
- I wasn’t going to allow myself to be gender-gated. I knew in advance that the probability of there being only a handful of women at the event was high. I didn’t want this to affect my judgement, so I decided that no matter what the diversity of participants (or lack of) was at the hackathon, I needed to accept it and move on.
- I wasn’t going to find nor justify excuses to bail. I packed a gym bag full essentials I would need throughout the weekend and had a few people “on call” who volunteered to bring me anything else that came up. I also set a sleep schedule to make sure I got enough of it to function.
- I wasn’t going to compete. I decided in advance that my goal was to learn as much as I can from my team members and participants. The prizes weren’t important to me, but I did pay attention to the judging criteria any feedback I received from volunteers at the event.
With a plan of action prepared, I set off for the hackathon right after leaving work. Exhausted but excited, I came in and showed my registration ticket. I was promptly greeted by several organizers with smiles and a swag bag full of goodies. After brief, friendly small talk, I headed to the main conference area ready to get started.
To read what happened at the hackathon I attended, stay tuned to Part II of How to Survive Your First Hackathon