Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What to Bring to a Hackathon

Hey, everyone. The MLH 2019 season is starting to get into full swing, and since attending hackathons is one of my favorite ways to have fun and learn at the same time, I wanted to give new hackers a basic list of stuff to bring to your first hackathon.

It can be overwhelming and confusing what to bring to your first hackathon. You don’t want to arrive with full-size luggage and have to carry it, but you also don’t want to get there and realize you forgot your charger. After attending 6 hackathons, I’m definitely still not a pro, but I do have a better idea of what stuff would be useful and what you should leave at home.

Hacking Equipment
When you go to a hackathon, the number one most important thing is your computer. Keep in mind that most hackathons supply any hardware you might need, so all you need to concentrate on is bringing the following.
  1. Laptop – PC or Macs are fine! As long as you don’t need to do iOS programming (for which you need a Mac), both systems work.
  2. Laptop charger – I have seen people forget this several times, and there usually aren’t spares.
  3. Extension cable – most hackathons I have been to are notorious for not having enough outlets. Bring your own extension cord to make sure you can stay connected to power.
  4. Headphones – with all the networking, group discussion, and events going on at hackathons, they can get real loud. Bring headphones and a great playlist to stay in your headspace and be productive. 
  5. Optional:
    • Monitor – some people developing games and visually intensive applications like to have bigger screens for demo and programming purposes.
    • Keyboard & mouse – if you find that more comfortable to use.
    • Phone & phone charger – not necessary for connection since Slack, what most hackathons use for communicating, is available on web browsers, but still useful for checking in, getting connected with new people, and taking pictures!
That’s actually all I took to my first hackathon: my laptop, phone, and chargers. I didn’t think I needed to take any personal hygiene products (“It’s JUST 24 hours!”), but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Personal Items
Feeling physically fresh helps amp up your mental game, and creating down time for yourself during the hackathon is vital to being able to create and demo an application you’re proud of! For that reason, I suggest bringing the following things:
  1. Sleeping bag and cushion – You might feel like you can make it, but if you have to drive home the next day, it would be irresponsible to not sleep and be driving drowsy on the way home. Catch a few z’s, it won’t hinder your progress! That’s what teammates are for.
  2. Eye mask – In the same vein, some hackathons don’t offer a designated space for sleeping. Bring an eye mask to block out light while you’re trying to sleep.
  3. Toothbrush + toothpaste – No one likes to network with someone who has stinky breath. With all the free food you’ll be getting, it’s going to be important to brush your teeth and stay fresh.
  4. Change of clothes – Bring at least a new t-shirt for the next day to look sharp for your presentation to judges.

I hope this post helps give a couple newcomers a basic list of what to bring to a hackathon. It definitely takes going to a few to understand what you specifically need to take to feel comfortable and productive.

Happy hacking!

No comments:

Post a Comment