What are Hackathons and Why are They Useful?

Recently, Peoplebank Hong Kong was one of the sponsors for the Classified Post Hackathon for students and recent graduates. Hackathons are based on the idea of marathons. They are usually 24 or 48 hours of people working in teams to produce innovative solutions in various forms. This hackathon had undergraduate students and recent graduates (with no more than two years’ experience) working from a brief ‘to build apps, tools and innovative solutions for use in the media and insurance industries’

What are the benefits of being involved in a Hackathon?

Most obviously, innovation is vital to any business and a hackathon is predominantly based around encouraging and stimulating ultimate innovative ideas. It helps to improve problem-solving skills as well as encouraging the confidence to take risks, but in a less detrimental environment. Another vital component of a hackathon is the necessity of networking. During a hackathon, you are surrounded by like-minded individuals. Naturally, you will gain connections amongst peers as well as through corporate sponsors and any mentors that are taking part.

There are also great benefits to company hackathons with existing staff members. In can be a great way to recharge a company’s innovative culture and enhance their capabilities. It’ll remind people of how to work successfully in a team as well as inspiring them and reviving their attitude towards work.

Speaking of working in a team, and having a can-do attitude, hackathons encourage the learning of new skills, both soft and technical. Hackathons act almost like a giant workshop where participants will have the right guidance and tools to help them solve problems in the best ways. Mentors and peers will be there to assist with any technical issues people may not have already experienced hands on. Participants also learn how to work with others in effective ways and how to strategise under time constraints.

For contestants, it’s a great way to gain experience that can be added to resume’s and talked about in interviews. For employers, it’s a great playing field to find new talent and acquire network connections based on people’s technical skills, communication skills and work ethic. Often, Hackathon’s address data and software challenges which are extremely applicable to roles such as data scientists or software developers. When companies have a presence at events such as these, they become highlighted as part of the developer community which can help attract top or new talent. Any participant taking part in a hackathon is sure to be (at the least) dedicated and a hard worker. They are, after all, sacrificing their weekend to work for 24 hours.

Oh, and participants also have the chance to win prizes (usually cash)!

Would you consider a hackathon a good investment? We definitely would.