Making that first move towards a career that you’re passionate about is often the hardest and most stressful. I was honoured to be asked back to participate in Summer of Tech’s Hackfest event to help shape the tech talent of tomorrow as a floating mentor.
Just under a year ago I too was gunning for a summer internship, putting everything I had learnt during my studies into practice through the Hackfest. Re-living hackfest was both exhilarating and rewarding, doing my part to help the next wave of budding developers and designers on their professional endeavours.
Hackfest, what’s the scoop?
Hackfest was a 2 day web-app building challenge for student teams involved with Summer of Tech 2017. Supported by industry mentors, students were set with the challenge of using an API or dataset, to build something valuable over a weekend. Teams consisted of 3-5 people made up of 1-2 designers and 3-4 developers.
The challenge was designed to mimic how bespoke projects are executed in the real world, from gathering requirements, wireframing, visual designs all the way through to developing the product, all within a 16 hour time frame.
More than just a challenge
Even experienced developers and designers would find such a task daunting—imagine taking away all the experience, skills and knowledge you have now, and just winging it for 16 hours to impress your first potential employer. It’s not about the experience or skills that students have, but more about the ability to face and overcome challenges within a team environment.
Hackfest explores and challenges each individual's ability to solve problems, communicate ideas across the team, express traits of leadership and of course, have that passion, drive and hunger that turns a good team into a great team.
Bestowing a year of wisdom
As a floating mentor, my role was to observe, clarify and guide students throughout the event. I helped to recognise when they were afraid to ask questions and assured them that no question was a ‘dumb question’, as I remember it being very easy to get caught up in not looking bad in front of future employers.
It was also great to see the students experience Agile first hand, with hourly stand-ups, scrum boards, concepts of MVP and nice to haves, the teams all got a crash course on how IT projects function, evolve and adapt in successful tech companies. I overheard many students chatting away about how Agile provided a “clear sense of structure” on how they would approach their upcoming challenges and how it was able to “deliver value in small increments”—nailed it!
The biggest highlight for me was the sense of giving back. Passing on the skills and knowledge that I’ve gained at SilverStripe over the past 10 months and being able to support talented students coming up through the ranks.
I also found it interesting to observe the male to female split in teams. From my perspective, the diverse teams did a much better job at communicating their problem statement and how their solution addressed that problem. Being able to articulate ideas with a high level of detail and cohesiveness is crucial in the professional environment. Proving that diversity within tech teams helps to address problems and build solutions for everyone.
Congratulations to all of the Summer of Tech students who participated in Hackfest 2017. It was a fun weekend and some impressive ideas were presented. It was great to see many of you at this weeks SOT meet and greet event.
SilverStripe has both Summer of Tech and Summer of Business internships available for this summer.
At the Summer of Tech Meet and Greet 2017 with fellow 2016 SOT intern, Sacha Judd.