Attending your first hackathon can be a nerve-wracking experience for the uninitiated. That’s why preparing well can help you shift to the right mindset and be ready for what’s to come. This guide should help first-time hackathon participants have a better and more enjoyable experience in the event. 

1. Know Your Goals

Before you can start doing anything, you must have your own reasons why you’d want to participate in a hackathon. Do you want to learn a new skill? Maybe build your programming portfolio? Experience how other programmers think and see how they are in action? Network for job opportunities? Whatever your reasons why you should define it and set it as a goal for you to achieve. 

2. Research the Theme Before Participating

Since hackathons have begun to become more common and more popular, most hackathon organizers implement a theme for the event. This topic or theme sets the tone of the hackathon and helps participants narrow down their ideas for a killer app. A theme can be anything from a travel companion, something music-related, or even a program that’s sponsored by a certain company. If your goal is to win and not just participate, you best do your research and start brainstorming for ideas.

3. Assemble Your Team

After your goal is in place and you have a better idea of what theme you’re up against, it’s time to build your team. Building your own hackathon team is one of the best parts of participating in one. You’ll have more control over your experience at the event, and you’ll be able to build good chemistry with your teammates before the hackathon starts. While some people form their own teams the moment they arrive at the hackathon, some prefer to build a team days or even weeks beforehand. You can even run practice coding sessions with your teammates while building up to the day of the hackathon activities.

4. Assign Your Roles

If you’re building a team before the hackathon, it’s a good practice to assign roles to your team members, so they have a sense of what they’re supposed to come the day of the event. Hackathons last 24-48 hours, so assigning someone to work on the project while others are resting can be a great advantage. Get a general sense of who on your team will work on what and approximately how long you expect it to take. Some people even do timeboxing so they can better manage their time while working on the project.

5. Final Preparations

During the final week before the hackathon, your final preparations should start. Since you already have your goal, your team, and your research locked in, it’s time to prepare and take note of the different activities you can do in the hackathon. If you’re there to network, then make a list of people you want to seek out and meet there. You can also create your pitch deck, design assets and logos, and practice delivering your pitch.

Ready, Set, Code! is the largest online hackathon community, with millions of members worldwide. We have over 2,000 hackathon organizers where members and even first-time joiners can participate and have a crack at creating some of the most innovative applications today. If you’re thinking about participating in a hackathon event, join our community today and get the latest updates!