def hacks(): For high school students, by high school students
It's no surprise that I spend most of my time at hackathons. I mean, where else can I get free food, vaguely interact with other people, and sit on my laptop for hours on end without being fervently judged?
I mean, I can just do that at home, but we don't have nearly as many boxes of fruit snacks.
In all seriousness, hackathons are extremely useful for anyone who wants to get into computer science. They're coding competitions where you have anywhere from eight hours to two days to create an innovative project, and that can put your skills to the test. I find that coding at a single hackathons teaches me more than several months of lectures and projects at school.
- You have to find a team and make connections without all of the standard small talk. This is srs bizness, and everyone realizes that.
- You have to actually come up with a concept for a project, a concept that hasn't necessarily been done before, or at least not in the way that you're tackling it.
- You have to cut corners and learn new technologies and rely on the help of hackathon mentors, your teammates, and, most importantly, Google.
I'm not going to lie, it's stressful. Not only do you have to keep yourself on track, but you have to check in with your teammates and weave all of your code together to create a finished product.
And then you have to EXPLAIN IT TO OTHER PEOPLE.
But if all goes well, you'll leave with a (hopefully winning) project you're satisfied with, some new friendships made over the struggles of using APIs, and lots and lots of food and swag (not that you didn't have some already *puts on sunglasses*).
That's what I wanted to make when I started def hacks() back in March.
def hacks() is meant to be a hackathon for high school students, by high school students, creating that ideal coding environment without the added anxiety of having to compete against seasoned college coders or not being able to learn new skills as a beginner coder.
It's a hackathon for everybody, from the n00biest of coders (i.e. people who just figured out how to import in iTunes) to the whizkids who write algorithms for Google in their free time.
And the reason that I'm telling you guys about this now, the event that's taken hours of my free time to send painstakingly composed emails and make scheduled calls and scramble frantically to connect with each and every connection I've ever made?
Welp, you can't hold an event without a place to hold it, and we've finally found one! ThoughtWorks, an uber-cool software consulting company, decided to let a couple of Stuyvesant seniors use their space for 24 hours straight, and were actually really excited about the whole idea of a high school hackathon. We've visited and talked to several event spaces, and the reason we chose ThoughtWorks was not only due to the fact that they have purple lighting and retractable extension cords hanging from the ceiling and huge murals that are changed every month or so.
I even went there for a Girls Who Code event once, and obviously oozed professionalism.
It was because they believed in our concept and were willing to do whatever it took to make def hacks() a reality. They sat down with us, listened to what we had to say, and responded with open arms and fervent agreements.
We still had to send a check-in email to make sure that what we thought to be a "Yes, we'll do everything we can to hold def hacks() here!" was actually a "Yes you can host your high school hackathon, def hacks(), here!" but...