How Did I Increase My Salary by 15% by Participation in Hackathons?

Jack, age 25:

It was around 3 a.m. when I realized two things: First, I’m about to finish my last bottle of Soylent. Second, I’ve just proven that I have what it takes to land my first job as a junior front-end web developer.

All Thanks to a Hackathon

Nearly two days before that moment of clarity, when it suddenly dawned on me that my participation in a hackathon had opened the door to a fantastic opportunity and had given me the confidence to pursue it, all I could do was modify existing WordPress templates and edit HTML and CSS.

In less than 48 hours, I learned more about JavaScript, PHP, and version control than I had since starting my career as a web designer — all thanks to a single hackathon.

Two months later I earn 15 percent more than I did as a freelance web designer, and I’m well on my way to, one day, become a senior web developer or even transition to software engineering.

The Power of Hackathons

I have read, that last year over 200,000 people participated in 3,450 hackathons all over the world. Out of those who attended public hackathons, 40 percent were students and indies, and nearly the same percentage of attendees had some web-related skills. Clearly, I wasn’t the only WordPress monkey without any desirable skills to ever attend a hackathon, and I also know that I wasn’t the only one to ever land a job thanks to a hackathon.

But there are more reasons to attend a hackathon besides landing a job:

Meet new people: Hackathons force like-minded people to work together and solve interesting problems. If you’re someone who recognizes the importance of networking and enjoys sharing ideas with others, there’s no better way how to make friends and stumble upon a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity than by attending hackathons. According to Intel, “Networking is the essence of a hackathon. Imagine being surrounded by like-minded individuals who are there to learn and collaborate. It is simply impossible not to network with them. In addition, by merely working under pressure with your team, you will most likely be able to build a strong bond with them that will be extended way beyond the hackathon.”

Learn new things: When you’re in a group with other passionate individuals and are given a day or two to create a project from scratch, you’re guaranteed to learn new skills, regardless of whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned pro. The skills may not always be technical, but they’ll always be valuable. “A hackathon is going to teach you how to use resources on the web, and really efficiently try to figure out what your questions are,” says Vikram Rajagopalan, the student organizer at MHacks.

Push yourself: In the real world, problems are often solved under pressure and at the last minute. By attending a hackathon, you can test your problem-solving capabilities to discover whether you’re someone who thrives under pressure or not. In either case, you’ll discover something useful about yourself.

Izabela Błażowska, who works at ChallengeRocket.com, platform for hackathons and creative programming challenges, says: “If you’re stuck in a rut, hackathons put you in a space where you are forced to think to push yourself ahead. On top of that, just seeing other hackers and teams around you creating cool projects could be enough to inspire you and, as a result, increase your creativity. This may help you get out of a creative roadblock.”

Build awesome stuff: If you like to build awesome stuff (who doesn’t?), hackathons give you the opportunity to team up with talented people and quickly create a working prototype of your idea to demonstrate its viability to potential investors. At Hack Arizona 2015, two University of Washington undergraduates won a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for gloves that can translate sign language into text or speech.

Win prizes: With hackathons come generous sponsors and fantastic prizes. Even if all the above-described reasons weren’t enough to convince you to attend a hackathon, perhaps the possibility to win a large cash price can do it for you. For example, the attendees of the recent Fintech Festival hackathon held in Visakhapatnam had the chance to win $1 million.

Sign Up for a Hackathon Today

If you’d like to sign up for a hackathon and take your career to the next level, you don’t have to wait at all. ChallengeRocket, a popular platform for hackathons and creative programming challenges, features a comprehensive database of upcoming hackathons that you can sort by difficulty, country, and other criteria. Opportunities are waiting, so sign up for a hackathon and see what you can accomplish when you challenge yourself.

ChallengeRocket.com helps companies find and engage top-performing tech talent matched to their open job positions using online recruitment SkillChallenges.