... you should come to a hackathon!
Basically, if you're a high school or college student
(or even in middle school) in North America or Europe
(primarily there, but also in other places), you've got this massive world of opportunity where you get to make really cool things
while someone else feeds you, gives you free stuff, and even hands like thousands of dollars in prizes if someone else thinks what you're doing is cool. If you're looking for a job or internship, there's that too!
Advantages of going to a hackathon:
- Learn something new.
Engineers from major companies (Apple, Facebook, etc.) and cool startups (Airbnb, Uber... or small companies you've never even heard of) are going to be there specifically to mentor you and help you anything you want to learn.
- Play with cool toys.
Ever head of Oculus? How about Thalmic Myo? Leap Motion? Parrot's AR.Drone? This is stuff you can simply talk about on the OT forum... or it's stuff you can work with, use, and build cool things on. For three whole days. You'll do stuff that 99% of your friends probably don't even dream of.
- Build cool things.
A machine that does your homework for you in your own handwriting. A Web browser that lets you explore the Internet without WiFi. A platform that lets you use smartphone apps on a 90's Nokia. A freaking hologram projector
. These are all projects someone's made at a hackathon, and these are things you can make too. You might struggle the first time around, but after a while you get the hang of it and actually start building really cool things. This is the most fun part, by far.
So, the catch? Nothing, really, beyond the likelihood of sleep deprivation.
- It's 24-48 (usually 36) hours
. You get a whole weekend, tons of Red Bull, not too much sleep, some usually decent food, and a team of 2-4 other people to build something crazy awesome (or really whatever you want).
- The environment is hella non-toxic
. There is a ridiculous amount of collaboration going on- it's like the exact opposite of high school (or the OT forum). People aren't jerks, they legitimately try to help you make whatever you're making better, and in general they're hella passionate about what they're doing instead of insecure and tempted to bother other people to feel like they're making up for their own flaws.
- You don't even have to know how to code
. Again, ridiculous mentorship. You just need to desire to make something
Basically, for all you people who've felt stifled by your environments and have that urge to just go make something awesome, you should check these out :D
Why am I saying this? Idk. I went to a pretty non-technical HS and felt like I had no opportunities to actually learn what I wanted to learn- I had to teach myself a lot, but that's hard when you don't even know what you're supposed to know. It's hard to do all that without a community. Got addicted to hackathons in college and they've really changed things for me- who knows? They might do the same for you. :)
If you're interested, most of the big HS/collegiate hackathons in North America and Europe are affiliated with Major League Hacking: https://mlh.io
Also, a good portion of them cover travel too. So don't worry if you're far away, either. If money's an issue, you'll probably be a saving a bunch anyway b/c of your newly-gained valuable skills, not having to pay for food or drinks, and getting a ton of free swag. Most importantly the skills- software and hardware development are both candidate-driven markets right now, so you have quite the edge.
Edited 9/17/2015 04:51:14