How to Get The Most Out of Pair Programming
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What do employers think about hackathons in general? And will this experience help you in landing your next job?
Putting hackathons in your resume is better than having nothing or only your degree. It's also better than just listing a side project you built. But a hackathon is not better than working in a real company for a few years.
Here is the list of things employers want to see in a resume, from the least to the most preferable:
Beyond the resume itself, the main question is: what do employers fundamentally want?
Ideally, they want you to become a productive team member quickly. But that isn't easy since your onboarding takes time. So they look for signals in your resume that show you are capable of doing the job and eager to learn.
The easiest way to reduce that time is to find someone with similar tech knowledge to the employer's current project. And for that reason, hackathons are very good. But they can never beat real-world experiences such as:
They also want to ensure you're keeping up with main technological developments. Of course, no one expects you to know every new library and framework that comes out.
However, it might be an issue if you miss something major like low-code technology.
And what company would want to hire you if you were 3 times slower than every other developer in their company? Not a single one.
So don't worry about the noise, but not knowing the main technology trends in the current decade is automatically disqualifying.
Hackathons are places where real personal growth can happen. No book, course, or seminar can help you learn and advance as fast as the hands-on experience in hackathons. What's best, your creativity will explode.
Hackathons also expand your horizons. You learn to try and do things you wouldn't normally do in your regular job. And they can teach you valuable skills about entrepreneurship.
In a hackathon, it is not enough to code something fast, and that's it - ticket closed, done. No! You must consider what you are building and what's essential in the end product. The question becomes more than "How to build a feature fast?" Instead, it transforms into "Should we build this feature at all?"
This mind shift benefits programmers who tend to get lost between the lines of code. And sometimes, they lose sight of the big picture. Code is not an end unto itself. The product needs to fill a purpose in the user's life.
And because of that, hackathons make the entire team aware of the market, the user, the sales process, as well as technical limitations. And these skills are directly transferable to actual companies and real projects.
All of this makes you more valuable to the project and the company where you work. And ultimately, the career opportunities you'll get (promotions, better and more exciting projects, higher salary, etc.) are directly proportional to the value you provide.
Hackathon is also a place where you can learn to do many things wrong. Especially if you're not very careful:
If there is one word that perfectly describes a hackathon, it would be: unsustainable.
Hackathons have a place and purpose, but they also have expiration dates. Every decision gets made by looking through a short-term lens. And if you plan to use hackathons as your primary learning tool in software development - you might want to think again.
You will end up learning the wrong tech skills and develop bad coding habits. So the conclusion is: learn from hackathons but use them in moderation.
If you are early in your career, having hackathon experience is a great way to get some work experience without having a job. But as your career matures, you will have diminishing returns, and your time will be better spent elsewhere.
However, this is only true from a learning perspective.
As you gain more experience, you will not seek just knowledge but opportunities as well. Because hackathons can also be a great way to start a new product or business that may turn out to be wildly successful.
One of the things you learn from hackathons is speed and productivity. And those are the things that directly affect your career and salary. Another thing is developing creativity under time pressure, which is insanely valuable.
And people who master those skills will have endless career opportunities.
For example, programmers who never attended a hackathon will likely do things the traditional way. If they need to build an app, they will manually code the frontend (web or mobile app) and backend (database) without having a second thought.
That is slow, inefficient, and unproductive. On the other hand, hackathon participants will know they have to use the latest and greatest hackathon software in order to win.
When it comes to hackathons (but also companies in general), it's hard to think of something nearly as powerful and productive as low-code technology.
So you're not learning something completely new. You're just learning to use old technology in a new and productive way.
Building a backend boils down to creating a couple of database tables, and you're done. All the API endpoints are automatically created, and your backend is production-ready out of the box.
The frontend is similar with its drag-and-drop components that allow you to quickly build user interfaces.
And most importantly - your entire project is completely customizable.
This means you can go from prototype to production-ready software with a million users (or more) without a single change to your codebase.
Now that is why low-code IDE is the best hackathon software in existence.
Hackathons are one of the best ways for companies to attract new talent and ideas. With very low risk, a company can assess a person's competency. And in-house hackathons can produce marketable products quickly and cheaply.
The best example of a successful in-house hackathon was conducted by a company named Odeo. You've probably never heard about it because it was a failing company.
What was their big plan to save themselves from bankruptcy? An in-house hackathon!
The result of this hackathon? A simple micro-blogging app you might have heard about called Twitter :)
As you can see, there are many reasons why a company would want to do a hackathon. Now the obvious question you might want to know as a participant is how to win hackathons?
Hackathons are a great way to learn something new and test state-of-the-art software that will define this decade, like low-code technology.
It is always nice to see hackathons on your resume because it shows initiative. And companies like to run them because it attracts the right people and may even result in profitable internal projects.