How can Hackathons help Students and Employers in the current climate?
In the wake of COVID-19 Yello recorded that 64% of employers cancelled internships without any compensation (CMS Wire). Without access to their offices many companies were forced to close their programs, leaving many students lacking the important career opportunities they need.
In light of this new economy a pressing question, as to how students will develop employability skills, remains unanswered. One solution came in the form of virtual internships. Many companies have adapted and offered internships online. This has largely been a success and thought to have set a precedent for the future of internships. To read more about this, head over to our review of the 2020 virtual summer internship schemes … ‘Virtual Summer Internships: how did they go and is this the new normal’.
However, for those who did not get the opportunity, they have been left stranded in a highly competitive market full of other students in similar situations. The light at the end of the tunnel appears in the form of Hackathons, which can offer students the opportunity to build their career skills and set themselves apart from the crowd.
What is a Hackathon?
Hackathons are events where people come together (physically or remotely!) and collaborate in small teams to come up with creative solutions to specific problems, within a set time limit.
Hackathons have emerged as a way by which students can gain critical employability skills. In Dr. Tauberer’s guide to Hackathons he defines a Hackathon as “any event of any duration where people come together to solve problems”. This definition distances the idea of a Hackathon away from its traditional routes in coding and hardware development to an event more about “creative problem solving”. Dr. Tauberer suggests thinking of the hackathon process as a “training session to prepare participants for solving problems”. Through Hackathon events students can develop the key skills required to successfully situate themselves in future job markets, such as problem solving.
In particular, we’ve seen a rise in Hackathon for university students, both hosted by Universities, their societies and outsider organisations.
Hackathon’s have also proven themselves to be of international importance with The European Union’s Digital Response to COVID-19 Initiative hosting many different COVID related Hackathons globally.
What does a Hackathon involve?
A Hackathon, in essence, is a crowd sourcing session. The process and specifics vary across different events. However, they usually start with defined themes or problem statements. These can be set by either the organiser or sponsor. It is the project of those groups involved to brainstorm solutions to these problems.
The group’s projects can take any physical form necessary (be it poster, business plan, video etc.) depending on the Hackathon event and are usually present at the end to a panel of judges.