Why Hackathons power up my skills?
I have participated in various hackathons all over Europe. I won 2 NASA space appschallenge regional awards in Zaragoza, Spain. Should I participate in hackathons even though if I know it is imposible to win?.
Well... the short answer is yes, definitely you should.
It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it doesn't even matter if you are a noob in programming or an expert. As I see it there are two types of power ups depending on which developer you are.
At the end of 24, 48, 32 .. hours. When the hackathon ends, you realize how many awesome programmers are over your community and how stupid you are. This is not bad at all, because now you have a challenge; beat the ones that beat you. Learn, study and push yourself to the limit, cause what is worst than lose is not to be able to contribute with any single line of code to your team.
You may be thinking... why should I participate in a hackathon if I will be feeling bad at the end?. A hackathon is not just a competition, it is a comunity and you will be surprised asking for help to your competitors and your competitors helping you. Isn't it great?. Then you know what is your limit and how to break it because people around you show you how to power up your skills.
You have to wonder yourself what do you want to acheave in this competition?. Do you want to achieve your team? or do you want to discover the strength and weakness of your team? Or instead do you want to win a challenge? or do you want to conquer the job you are looking for?... Because in hackathons there are awesome developers and companies know that. Even some companies want to improve their IT teams.
No matter how you are, if you are a solo developer, if you just want to make some funny challenges with your friends or discover your limits. You will use technologies, libraries, frameworks and algorithms you've never work with or discover. Surprisingly you will learn the basics of that technology in just a few hours and get fun deeping inside the documentation and examples.
For instance in the last hackathon which I participated, I was the team leader and the main developer. The rest of my team were a completatly noobs in terms of hackathons so I found myself developing the entire app and teaching my team in the process. It was exhausted but highly instructive. This experience power me up to the next level and made me focus in my next goal: improving my skills in Machine Learning.
BUT, if you think you will lose, you will lose in every aspect of the competition. Now you know a hackathon is not just win the award. You had to know your skills and limitations. What can I do in 48h? I may learn something about a specific framework, I may be want to expand my network or Why not? WIN THIS COMPETITION.