A few weeks back, I attended my first hackathon as an effective coder.  I was helped in this, in part, by the hackathon organizational style used by Women Who Code.at their first hackathon in 2016.  I liked it so much that I’m making notes as to what worked so that we can use it in Birmingham.

General hackathon organization notes:

What really helped this noob?

They organized a pre-hackathon orientation session Friday afternoon, in which they ran through what to expect, team roles and how our final products and pitches would be scored. Knowing what to expect helped me settle in and focus on how I could help my team and not worry about hitting ill-defined performance targets.

They had mentors (subject matter and programming language experts) available throughout the hackathon, to help teams get past knowledge sticking points.

Food – we were NOT going to starve. There was lots of non-carb food, coffee, and caffeine, all necessary for sustained work.

Finally, everyone presented. Didn’t matter how big or small the final application was – you talked about it.

For half the women attending, this was their first hackathon. It was emphasized to us during the orientation session that we could do this, that our solutions didn’t need to be complex, and that the organizers fully expected that the results of the hackathon would serve as a project starts.