No coding knowledge? No problem!
Hackathons are gaining more popularity with each year, but there are still lots of people that assume they can’t take part simply because they’re not a programmer.
The stigma comes with so many inaccurate preconceptions that it’s no wonder people who could make valuable contributions never even consider joining one.
But the truth is, there are several roles every successful hackathon team needs if they want to get the job done (and done well).
If you’ve been itching to join a hackathon, but have no idea how you would contribute, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
Think of what you’re best at.
Successful hackathon teams create and deliver products that are creative, holistic and technically functional—which means you need much more than one coder to make it happen.
Here are five valuable hackathon skills and roles that have absolutely nothing to do with coding:
If you have more ideas than you know what to do with, you’re an invaluable part of any team.
Within a hackathon team, it helps to have someone who frequently cooks up new and fresh ideas. But as any “idea guy/girl” will know, it’s one thing coming up with million-dollar ideas, and a whole other to execute them.
It’s like Steve Jobs famously said: “Ideas are nothing unless executed”.
So if you’re the type of person that constantly comes up with exciting new ideas (even if you struggle to implement them), you could be a great asset to a hackathon team.
Are you creative? Do you have an eye for themes and the aesthetic science behind user experience?
Join a hackathon team as a user experience designer!
The role of a UX designer at a hackathon is less about choosing the colours and shapes of the final product, and more about designing that unique “feel”—one that can’t be mimicked.
It’s about how the user will flow from one action to the next action within the app or software or whatever it is your team is building. Essentially, the UX designer is there to bridge the gap between us (real people) and the technology we’re trying to use.
That “flow” created by the UX designer is then given to the frontend developer, who will take it and turn it into code.
Do you have experience in project management? Your future hackathon team needs you!
When it comes to software development, organisation is crucial. It’s what holds everything together and makes sure everything is running smoothly and on track.
But with such strict time constraints of most hackathons, keeping on top of the organisational side of things can be hard, if not damn near impossible. That’s why it’s so important to have someone specifically dedicated to this task.
As the project manager, it will be your job to keep the team focused on their tasks and to make sure no critical steps are skipped.
With your leadership and organisation skills, your team will be working as efficiently as possible towards the end-goal.
Every winning hackathon team needs a domain expert.
It’s the person who has in-depth knowledge of the industry, its organisation, how it works, how decisions are made, and so on.
Having a domain expert in the team is invaluable, and they don’t necessarily have to come from a technical background, either.
Let’s say you’re required to build a viable product for education technology. The most important (and first) thing you need to do is to understand the mechanisms and functionality of other ed-tech platforms, so you have a solid starting point for creating something better.
Having one person on the team with solid domain expertise can be what takes you from a good team to a winning one.
When people think of all the roles in a hackathon team, ‘writer’ isn’t usually the first that comes to mind. But the truth is, every hackathon team could benefit from having a great writer on board.
Writers are natural storytellers, which means developing a story from start to finish comes easily. That means as well as being the best person to write a winning pitch, a writer on the team can even help with the basic product flow and UX design of the product, as it all ties into telling a great story.
Every area of the final product needs to be comprehensible and having a writer on the team can help steer things on the right side, whenever the flow gets confusing or too complex.
In the chaos of a hackathon, where the pressure’s high and the clock’s ticking, a writer will be the team member to communicate the idea and approach at each stage of the planning process.
If you’ve never taken part in a hackathon before, the idea itself can seem intimidating.
But when you take a deeper look into what it takes to build a successful team, you’ll soon realise that hackathons are much more inclusive than people think.
And you definitely don’t need to be a coding mastermind to be a part of one.
So, are you ready to learn new skills, meet like-minded people and form a winning team? We’ve recently teamed up with some amazing hackathons and applications are still open! Browse them here.
It’s time to put your skills to the test!
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