Hackathons, a gathering of tech geeks from far and wide working in unison to create something incredible in an outrageous time limit. Naturally, tech people around the world are drawn to these.
Now while showing up at hackathons and participating is insane fun, sometimes, not being prepared for the event can hamper your experience. You can have a perfect idea, the perfect code and everything else will fall into line just for you to regret leaving that one small thing home.
So in this article, we let you in on some the must-haves if you’re going to a hackathon, from our experience.
A ‘working’ laptop
Sounds obvious. I mean, how else are you going to build something? The number of people I’ve seen running into issues with their machine is surprising. These people spend 8-10 hours of the hackathon fixing their devices and end up with a half baked project that could have helped them win, but didn’t.
Make sure you check your machine thoroughly before leaving. Most errors are regarding connectivity or storage. Try keeping an external WiFi adaptor or an external HDD which can serve as quick fixes to a bunch of problems. Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to keep a bootable pen drive with your OS of choice.
Also, please do not bring your desktop to a hackathon. Keep all that liquid-cooled flex at home.
Mouse (and other hardware)
Yes, please carry your mouse. It’ll make your life a lot easier. Switching back and forth and scrolling too much with your trackpad can add up finger fatigue real quick and trust me, you want your fingers running as quickly as possible during a hackathon.
Taking a mouse along will not only help speed up your workflow when you’re researching but will also keep you relaxed. You can also pack in a small keyboard if you like, but do carry your mouse.
Also, be sure to include in the list an extension board and if possible, a WiFi router. Being powered and connected during such long events helps.
Also read: Top 7 Gaming Mice for all budgets
Most hackathons reveal their problem statements before the start of the event, and this gives the participants a chance to get a heads up on what they want to work on when the event begins.
Should you decide to work on a hardware solution, be sure to make a comprehensive list of everything you need and pack it all. Don’t forget to pack in some spares too. Electronics can fail at any time and having to change your project last minute because one component failed sucks, trust me.
Coding can be consuming on the mind. Being up the whole night and coding something will be super draining on the mind and body as well.
While most hackathon venues will have a cafeteria, a five-minute tea break can turn into a three-hour networking session real quick. Let’s be honest; when you’re working on something in such a short period, breaks can be very distracting.
So do yourself a favour and pack in some of your favourite snacks. They’ll keep you running, focussed and on your desk longer.
A warm hoodie/blankets
Once the event starts, you’re all fired up and working on your project. All of a sudden, at 2 AM, a chill runs down your spine. Yes, the air conditioning is on at full blast, and you’re cold. Wish you had those warm blankets now do you?
Regardless of the season, pop in a hoodie or some light blanket. It gets cold and night and nothing is more annoying than being cold while working.
A change of clothes
We all like showing off our hacker T-shirts at hackathons, but the same flex might not work with the judges. Most times, the judges at a hackathon are full-time angel investors who are used to professional pitches in the boardroom. Look up the judges beforehand and if that’s the case, carry a formal shirt or something and freshen yourself up before the pitch.
Creating an impression helps and can go a long way down opening opportunities for you.
So these are my hard-learned lessons about what to bring to a hackathon. Let us know in the comments below if any of these helped you out. Got some tips of your own? Be sure to drop them down below as well.
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