Note: This guide is geared towards beginners or first-timers!
So you’re all set; you’ve found a hackathon you’re interested in (like AthenaHacks, for example) and are ready to apply. The only thing missing is your dream team.
Not for long! Below, we outline ways to prepare your team ahead of time and, if that doesn’t work out, ways to form a team at the hackathon itself.
Preparation Before Applications to the Hackathon are Due
- Bug your friends. They’re people you’ve already seen work on projects, so the familiarity is in your favor. If they have experience with technology or computing already, great! If they don’t, great! All a hackathon team needs are people who are willing to learn about technology and engineering.
- Search your wider social circle. If you’re in any clubs, organizations, or class group projects, mention the hackathon to them and see if anyone is interested in attending with you. This can be a great bonding experience to have with people you might not know as well yet, too.
Pro tip: some hackathons (including AthenaHacks) have referral programs that will reward you for referring people to the hackathon. Definitely make the most of that if you can!
Making a Team on the Fly
At both virtual and in-person hackathons, there are two great ways to find team members:
- The team formation event. This is a physical room or meeting link where all the hackers who are looking to form a team will meet.
- The #general Slack/Discord channel. People are always sending messages about forming teams in these channels. Sometimes people say they’re looking to join a team and other times a half-formed team will put out a call for new members.
Either way, be ready ahead of time by knowing what you’re interested in learning or working on (even if it’s “anything”) and what you can contribute.
If you have experience, your pitch for yourself might look like this:
Hi! I’m Aubrey the Owl, and I’m interested in working on a health-related web app this weekend. My experience has been in Java and C++, and I like working on front-end design too.
If you don’t have experience, your pitch can look like this:
Hi! I’m Tammy Trojan, and I’m interested in learning more about web applications this weekend. While I haven’t yet been to a hackathon before, I’m always looking to learn about different languages, and would be happy to contribute to a team however I can.
When in-person hackathons are feasible again, spontaneous and organic team formation is also possible; find people in line for a meal, sitting next to you at the opening ceremony, or getting their swag at the registration table.
But until then, we’ll make the most of Zoom University hackathons. Happy hacking!