Hackathons are events that bring together tech enthusiasts to compete while solving software-related challenges. Whether you’re a newbie coder or have extensive programming experience, these events offer plenty of benefits and personal growth opportunities. Here’s why you should partake and how you can get started:

1. Challenge Yourself

It’s easy to remain safely in your comfort zone on a day to day basis. Hackathons offer the opportunity to showcase your skills and challenge yourself in ways you may not have done before. This is a space where you’ll always be pushed to think outside the box in ways you may not have done before.

For instance, if you’ve never used JFrog DevOps tools to spearhead Kubernetes, now would be a great time to learn more about how you can automate tasks to finish your project quicker. Chances are, you’ll discover new talents and skills that you would never have explored otherwise.

2. Getting Over Programmer Imposter Syndrome

If you’re a developer that tends to beat yourself up over mistakes in your code or doubts your ability to produce clean code, you may have fallen victim to imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern that describes how a person challenges their accomplishments and fears being exposed to fraud.

Perhaps you feel insecure when you hear other developers talking about programming languages that you don’t fully understand.

Unfortunately, this is something many programmers deal with in their careers. They feel as though they aren’t talented enough to compete or are too far back in their education to ever catch up with an evolving industry. But you’re not alone in this feeling, and it’s a natural pattern of behavior.

One way to get over this is to get over the feeling of being uncomfortable and achieve this at hackathons. Hackathons offer the chance to surprise yourself by your accomplishments and realize that many others are going through similar experiences and looking for ways to overcome them.

3. Immerse Yourself in Entrepreneurship

Many people join hackathons because they have an idea that they’d like to explore. These events can often act as a stepping stone to seeing those ideas and products come to life. Sometimes your thought might be well-thought enough to capture the attention of investors. If you’ve been curious about the startup world and what it takes to get involved, this is your chance to learn firsthand what it takes to run a startup team.

4. Recruitment Opportunities | Hackathon

Hackathons are often sponsored by big companies or organizations, many of whom are scouting for talent. And what better way to recruit innovative minds than by meeting people who attend hackathons? It’s one thing for a developer to call themselves “innovative” on a CV, but entirely another to prove it through their participation efforts and extracurriculars.

Larger hackathons have recruiters on-site who have their booths to learn more about open positions and internship opportunities. Through this networking, you’d be surprised by the number of business cards you go home with. Keep in mind that you aren’t just networking with employers, but with other like-minded people who can quickly become lifelong friends and essential connections later.

5. Joining a Hackathon

There are hundreds of hackathons to choose from, and some are niche or generalized. Start by conducting a local Google search to see if there are any local hackathons you can join. Like TechCrunch Disrupt, there are also very popular hackathons, which takes place in New York City, San Francisco, and Berlin.

Some hackathons revolve around startup teams that already exist and have an extensive application process, while others are open to anyone—including those with no coding experience.

6. Preparing for a Win | Hackathon

Now that you understand what steps you need to take to join a hackathon and why it’s time to start thinking about winning. For starters, preparation is critical. Before you even begin writing any code lines, you can start assigning different types of tasks to various members of your team and making decisions about who will handle which aspects of the hackathon.

Use a design management program like Trello or Asana to get you started, and decide in advance which technologies you want to use. Install your work environment early, brainstorm an idea, and start planning everything you’ll need for a smooth hacking environment, like pillows, blankets, food, and snacks.