I haven't always loved hackathons. In fact, I used to think hackathons were rather dull.
Because of a bad experience, a lack of coding ability, and no team, I found a lot of distaste in hackathons and completely shunned the idea. 24 hours staying up while stress gorging over fruit snacks and random assorted foods because of a project that may not be completed and needed to judges may look with dull looks on their faces? Not my ideal weekend.
After doing an internship over the summer, though, I started to feel a huge yearning to give hackathons another try, considering that I had built up a more foundational background and heard from my friends' amazing experiences at hackathons. Even though I was overbooked with projects and homework during my sophomore fall semester, taking OS and OOP, I was able to spend my weeknights hacking away on projects through careful compromising of my schedule.
In fact, during that time, I fell in love with hackathons. I had worked alone at my first hackathon, but I realized that in a team, things were way more fun. Getting to work side by side with my friends formulating an idea, configuring a plan, and putting it into code action was very enjoyable. As I endured the ever-pressing desire to sleep from a week of school, a desire that doesn't get fulfilled at hackathons, I was able to deepen my friendships and get to know others more personally through that process. Most of all, I love the joy of getting a project to completion after 24+hours of hacking. It makes everything worth it.
This is why I was psyched when I heard that FreeTail Hackers, the UT Austin hack team, was holding applications for students to apply to be officers, and super pumped to receive acceptance into their Tech team. I always envisioned what it'd be like to prepare a hackathon, and how I'd get to witness so many things if I'd become an organizer.
I'd get to witness the process of registration, where the layouts and buttons I put in place on the website would go through thousands of clicks in order to approve hackers smoothly. I'd get to witness all the first-time hackers raise their hands in response to the start of a hyped-filled hackathon. I'd get to witness the mob of hackers lining up for freshly prepared meals and midnight snacks queued months beforehand and laid out all in piles or trays for everyone to see.
I'd get to witness the exhausted yet determined-looking eyes of hackers as they lasered in on their screen, click-clacking their keyboard to finish the last hundred lines of code to beat crunch time of the last 30 mins of submissions. I'd get to witness wide-eyed, caffeinated hackers proudly present projects they completed after 24 hours of non-stop hacking, the whoops and hollers of hackers reaching the top 10 category, and the cries of extreme euphoria by winners as they sauntered to the front of the awards ceremony to receive their well-achieved prize. I'd get to witness my own dreariness as I help out my own fellow organizers clean up the venue we rented out and see off the last remaining straggling companies and hackers left.
So I'm looking forward to these next few months as an organizer, not mainly to just prepare a hackathon where people can hack at, but to observe the growth it comes to as registration opens, to oversee hackers in the heyday of hacking, and witness a sense of fulfillment knowing that all effort put forth into the hackathon will impact several hundred hackers and bring about an experience that many will carry on with them for the rest of their lives.