What is a hackathon?

Hackathon: contraction of the words “hacker” and “marathon“, everything is said!

Or almost…

This event is a form of collaborative challenge (and sometimes competitive, to a lesser extent), held over a set time and on a given theme.

Why an internal hackathon?

Organizing an internal hackathon has a number of advantages: obviously, it allows everyone to work together on the same subject.

You can then give a new impulse to a subject that has been dragging on for a long time, or tackle unusual projects…

An internal hackathon is also, and above all, a moment of team-building that helps to create stronger links between colleagues! Sharing experience, helping each other, good mood…

How much time should you allow?

It all depends on the subject.

We all have in mind the hackathoner who spends 48 hours without sleep, with dark circles as big as suitcases under his eyes, in hacker-zombie mode.

In reality, on more than one day of hackathon, sleep remains essential and one must think of preserving oneself to be still efficient the next day.

The main thing is not to code for 72 hours until your fingers dislocate, but to build effectively together from start to finish.

A hackathon must be a good time, a constructive emulation!

How can you do this?

Beyond the theme, giving a final objective: being able to present something concrete, even if it is only a series of summary slides, will give the team a finish line to cross.

This presentation will only be meaningful if you present it, so prepare an audience in advance!

Build small teams.

Over 5 people, teamwork can become complicated – because the key to success is smooth communication.

If there are less than 3 people, it could be the emulation of ideas that suffers…

In the end, it’s up to you to find the right balance according to character and affinity !

Settling in before departure

Face-to-face :

In the same room, this is essential for good communication!

Remote :

Keep in touch via communication tools, e.g. :

– Discord voice channel
– Google meet permanently open
– Slack
– etc

Whether you are working in person or remotely, it will of course sometimes be necessary to isolate yourself for a while to focus on programming. In this case, always listen for a ping from the rest of the team!

When the clock is ticking

Think about planning phases from the beginning, keep an eye on the time that is passing by at great speed!

Give yourself objectives and deadlines for each phase.

Phase 1: establishing the foundations

A hackathon requires a phase of thinking at the start, whether it’s a brainstorming session or even the distribution of roles. This phase is important, it’s the foundation for structuring the rest of the hackathon!

Phase 2: we code!

And we push, and we pull! We settle merge conflicts and re-code!

Communication is key – what we’ve just finished, what we’re about to do, the sticking points… A hackathon is all about helping each other!

Phase 3 : presentation

Leave yourself a period of time before the end of the hackathon to summarize what has been done, the progress made… and prepare a dynamic and attractive presentation.

Ideally, each member of the team will have a speaking slot to reflect the spirit of the teamwork.

What about quality?

One of the pitfalls of a hackathon could be the quality of the code.

Don’t panic! This is not a one-shot event, but rather the impetus given to a team and a project.

Ideas are put forward and developed in record time: with this basis, anything goes!

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