Spring hacking season highlights and tips

The spring season means lots of things – it’s when people start un-hibernating and coming to events, it’s one of the best times to look for jobs, and of course, it’s the re-emerging of hackathon season.

I published a write-up about the recent LadyHacks, and I realized I hadn’t done my spring “welcome to hacking season!” post; so here, at the end of my hack week at work, I’ll share what I’m looking forward to, and learning from, this season. (and a side note: over at the Pluralsight blog, I recently wrote up “5 Hackathon Survival Tips” if you want to check it out!)

Hacks I’m going to (or wish I were)

I really keep eyeing HackFit. I don’t believe I’ll be going (see the next topic), but I’m very interested that there are more hacks involving health in general, and happy to see one focusing on fitness.

For keeping track of hackathons, Technical.ly is doing an amazing job. They only cover local hacks though, so it’s worth pondering if you’d like to travel. It can be a lot of fun to meet new people (and maybe even make you less nervous) in a new environment.  I continue to ponder going to AngelHack, and I know some locals who will be headed to SpaceApps.

For me, Random Hacks is always on my list of “must-go” events, but I’m not as pleased with the event since Technical.ly has taken it over from the local community. Unfortunately, it also falls on the same weekend at Transparency Camp, where I see myself doing more good.

So for me, maybe LadyHacks was my spring hackathon. A little bummed about that, but looking forward to SEPTA hack in the fall, and seeing what else pops up.

Dealing with burn out

When I first got into hackathons, I might’ve had a bit of a problem. You’d see me at a lot of them, or at least attempting to go. It wasn’t sustainable, and I’m glad that (I think!) I stopped before I completely burned out on them. Burn out is very very real, and it’s important to stop yourself before you get to that point, if you want to keep contributing where you want.

I’ve recently established a “one weekend a month” rule for myself and tech events/tech volunteering, so I’m choosy about the hacks and  events that I go to. In the tech scene, I think we sometimes forget about the people who can never do a weekend event (just like we do for people who can never to weeknights – that’s why we like to promote a diverse set of events at PhillyJSDev). If you’re starting to get burned out, I’d recommend trying out the one weekend a month rule. (Example: For me, March was LadyHacks, for April, WITS, for May, Transparency Camp)

Hackathon recruitment

I’m trying to recruit more new hackers to hackathons. Back in February, a friend emailed me saying he was nervous about attending a hack; that he felt like he’d slow a team down. So I want to say right now: Don’t make that assumption. At my first hackathon, I was flailing with Android and Python, and somehow we built something that now has a forever home. I also recently spent 15 minutes on the phone in a bar telling my non-technical friend why I think he should start going to hackathons. Please, if you’ve hand an inkling about going, it will be so good for you.

What’re your plans for hacking season? First hackathon, or seasoned veteran?

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