Hackathons can be a transformative experience for any new developer. Why? Because they provide a tangible real-world opportunity to build something from scratch and then “ship” a minimum viable product (MVP) in less than 24 hours. On the line are cash prizes, industry connections, and the bragging right to say I did this!
In fact, it’s a kind of rite of passage most developers put themselves through at least once in their career. Those 24 hours can be both exhilarating and frustrating for new developers as, for the first time, they learn how to work with a team, get acquainted with new APIs, and then make critical choices about what features to include in the final product.
Cloudinary recently sponsored the Wallifornia Musictech Hackathon in Liège, Belgium. A group of eight developers from the “Be ” code school stopped by our table to check out our APIs and to learn how to kickstart a Hackathon project. To accelerate their learning, Tamas Pieros and I created an impromptu workshop and then stepped back and watched that team create their winning entry, Imacoustic.
For new developer Charlotte Tusset, this was her very first Hackathon.
Two days ago, I attended my first Hackathon organized by Wallifornia MusicTech. Who would have believed that? Two months ago, I barely knew what coding was.
Despite a difficult start, our team managed to complete a project, called Imacoustic, beyond our expectations. Imacoustic is a platform that generates sound or music based on an image, such as an artist’s picture.
As learners and curious minds, we arrived at the Hackathon without any concrete idea of what it was about and quickly became overwhelmed by the expectations and the caliber of the other participants. In such a new environment, the most important thing to do is to overcome one’s own fears and to stay motivated, dixit Cédric Swaelens (C.O.O @BeCode). We want to thank Cloudinary’s representatives, Dan and Tamas, for guiding us throughout that 24-hour challenge.
Our biggest challenges:
- Communication: Handicapped by a lack of preparation beforehand, we found it difficult to hold a transparent dialog among our team of seven members.
- Music know-how: Even though some of us are very interested in the music industry, we are not experts. Nor are we musicians. All that complicated the situation.
- Project scope: Numerous ideas streamed in from all directions. It took time to pare them down to realistic proportions and carve out a feasible scope for our project.
What we learned:
- Preparation is key.
- Become familiar with the Hackathon process early on.
- Work as a group and share tasks.
- Challenge ourselves within the time limit.
- Integrate APIs from Cloudinary, YouTube, and Last.fm into our code.
- “Work more, sleep less!” turned out to be not efficient for all of us.
From a personal point of view, I realised the importance of excelling yourself and banishing your dark thoughts from your mind. All the group will be impacted by a lack of motivation.
I also feel more and more comfortable with public speaking and other people’s judgments (that was no easy job!).
I am still as passionate as I was about music industry and would love to work in this field.
Well said Charlotte!
We’d love to hear your comments and thoughts about your first time coding experiences here or send us a tweet #herfirsthackathon @cloudinary