Not that long ago, most students cringed at the thought of participating in Hackathons, before even trying for it. Its competitive nature made them feel that prior exposure is a must in order to do well. But a lot has changed now. Students realize that hackathons are not about just winning a competition, but also about learning new skills, not customarily taught in the classroom’s lecture-homework-exam spiral. Hackathons approximate project-based learning environments by giving students the opportunity to work on real-world problems and learn new technical skills. As students work in a collaborative environment, it’s one perfect tool that encourages peer-learning, along with sharpening their communication skills.
The new talent-hunting grounds
With top Tech firms hungry for the right talent, Hackathons are seamlessly being fused into their recruitment processes. In due course, as they evolve, Hackathons are going to become more prevalent as a hiring tool. Hacks have been known for reducing the hiring time by upto 80% and allowing organizations to reach out to the right talent in comparison to a mere window-shopping during placement drives. What’s truly innovative about hackathons is the way they allow employers to assess both the hard skills and the soft skills of the participants.A first step to future entrepreneurial venture
Interestingly, many prosperous start-ups today were first conceived at student hackathons. Such events are indeed a great opportunity for students to build a first version of that cool idea they have been thinking of. Hackathons become the meeting grounds for students with promising solutions and potential investors.
#Hack for good
The collective energy of young minds can solve any problem. That’s the mantra being increasingly put to use these days. Whether it be organizations or Government, everyone wants to do their bit by finding innovative solutions for the problems the world witnesses today. They are organizing national level student hackathons. A case-in point is the COVID pandemic. Several well-executed Hackathons have been organized in the last couple of months to address problems like, COVID dashboard for State Governments; solutions for hospitals and remote education. This inspired the students as they got the opportunity to work on a real-life project, which they could connect with.
Hackathon organizers arrange for pre-Hack mentoring hands-on workshops and technical enablement sessions that help students understand how to use cloud services, programming tools. Students then get their hands dirty, as they start working on the actual hackathon challenge, where they get to practice their skills with real data. They understand the real challenges, e.g., how to cleanse the data, transform unstructured data into structured formats and how to use cloud to handle big data.Right stakeholder-partnership can make a difference
Recently, nasscom FutureSkills in collaboration with IBM and its own incubated start-up Beatest, launched a National Online Hackathon, ‘Crack the COVID Crisis’. The Hackathon received 26,478 student registrations, from 26 States and Union Territories across India. All trying to ‘hack’ their way, in a team of 3-5 and find tech solutions for the National socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID pandemic. AICTE (the regulatory body for all Engineering institutes in India) helped in the Nation-wide outreach for this Hackathon. The project was a perfect example of Industry-Academia-Government partnering for a common objective of driving quality student-learning. Top entries have been provided mentoring support by IBM experts for the Global Hackathon Challenge. Winners of this challenge will receive the opportunity to be interviewed for a potential role at IBM (challenge closes 31st July).
Hackathon’s gamified format is helping drive quality student learning. Some students are flaunting it on their resume. While others are meeting potential partners to start their entrepreneurial venture. Major companies too are increasingly relying on Hackathons as recruiting tools. Regardless of whether students win or lose, once they begin participating in Hack events they find themselves searching for another hackathon to attend in the near future and that is what we like to call the ‘Charm of Hacks’.
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