How I Won My First Hackathon

How I Won My First Hackathon

Abhishek Kumar
·Aug 27, 2022·

5 min read

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Table of contents

Wait Wait Wait!!! What is a hackathon man, Okay Okay Let me tell you about that first and share with you my journey "How a beginner in a hackathon won it at the very first attempt" afterward.

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What is a Hackathon and Why should you care?

"A hackathon means you have to hack someone's computer onsite" or "A hackathon is a coding competition" If these are your definition for hackathons then friend you're wrong.

A Hackathon is the best place to learn and collaborate with a lot of diverse people just like you. In simple words, Hackathon is about bringing your crazy ideas to reality through technology. It’s an event where anyone, regardless of their individual field can come & participate to learn, build & share their creations.

I don't know how to code, Can I still take part?

Yes!!! Absolutely. Even when I first started I just volunteered for the whole hackathon just to understand how all things work out and all. If you don't know how to code you can still contribute in many ways like by suggesting good ideas to your teammate, making documentation, demoing the project and all that stuffs. You just need a gist to challenge yourself.

Will people get annoyed if I ask questions?

Not at all! This is a common misconception about hackathons and in actual fact, it’s the complete opposite. The environment at these events is designed specifically to encourage everyone to have fun and help each other. If you’re ever stuck on anything, go find a volunteer who might be able to help and if not, they will almost certainly know who can.

What if don't know anyone at the hackathon?

Not to worry! You’ll meet people when you get there. Everybody’s very friendly. A lot of people go to hackathons without teams. So it’s perfectly normal to go around to people, tell them you’re looking for a team, and ask if you can help out. Hackathons will often run team-matching sessions at the start to help you meet people.

You can Invite your friends to come to the hackathon too! That way you’re guaranteed to have at least one familiar face.

My Hackathon Journey and How I won it.

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It all started out when I first heard about the Hackathon on Linkedin, Someone won some swags and prizes and shared a victory post over there. Then I came to know about MLH from that person that He won it by taking part in MLH Hackathons. I was like "It's so awesome, How to Participate", that person shares information to join the community and keep an eye on upcoming hackathons.

I joined what he said and I registered for the hackathon but I didn't understand the timelines and the whole workflow going on within the community. I spend 3 hackathons wasted just to understand the community workflow and how hackathons work out because I didn't know about the "ABC" of a hackathon.

Then I get to know one lesson at the end "In order to understand the working of something, Experiment with it". I registered for the MLH Data Day Grind III and participated solo in that as I was not very much aware of the team-building things and all.

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I just took up a challenge to myself that I have to do it anyhow without thinking about the results, even if I lose at least I will take some learning back with me which will help me in the future.

Hackathon begins and I made up a Hand detection model on my own as I was already familiar with the libraries used in it like OpenCV and media pipe and most comfortable with it. At hackathons, your hack is surrounded by the theme that the hackathon is based on but the best part of that is if you want to make anything else you can submit that too.

GitHub Repo Link of the project Click me

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I just submitted my project and felt so proud of myself that I have taken part at least and made something on my own even if it's a small and basic project.

Then the result phase comes up and the judges was announcing the results who won what and what project got what position. I had a clear understanding in my mind that I wouldn't win it as its a very basic project but somewhere in my heart I had a small hope of 10% that is saying to me that "Oh god, please list my project in the winning list" and My fingers were crossed too at that moment automatically[ First Hackathon anxiety ].

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So This happens in the Livestream of Winners announcement,

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🎉🎉🎉 I WON IT WITH 3rd OVERALL POSITION 🥳🥳🥳

I was so happy at that moment that finally, I have done something, You know "The best thing in life is unexpected".

Things I learned

  • Never Underestimate yourself.
  • Don't think too much start taking action.
  • Ask a lot of questions.
  • Build for fun, make sure you learn something new.
  • Don't just run to winning.
  • Learn while building.
  • Collaboration and team building help a lot.
  • Time Management
  • No one wants you to be an expert

Resources where you can find Hackathons

  • Devfolio
  • MLH Hackathons
  • Devpost

Conclusion

Enjoy every single small achievement that you earned and be proud of it always. Share the learnings, write a blog on it, and help and guide others.

"It's never too late to start something, Dont think just start experimenting with things that's how you will learn, Hackathons are all about learning and experimenting things".

Thanks to Aakansha, Ritvi, and Ryan for helping me out a lot and the whole MLH community.

You can find me here: Click Me

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