Ordinary olympiads in mathematics, Russian language or history are already a common occurrence. Both children and parents know how they help to enter the university. And hackathons, a relatively new and trendy format, still raise a lot of questions. However, this is an effective tool to enroll in IT faculties and build a career. Together with colleagues from Skysmart, we tell why a child should apply for a hackathon right now.
A hackathon is a team competition for programmers. For a limited time, participants come up with a technological solution for the tasks set by the organizer. The name came from the combination of the words hack (hack, hack) and marathon (marathon).
Companies hold these events for two purposes: to expand the base of ideas and to find new employees. Hackathons are often attended by HR teams, such as Sberbank, Qiwi and VKontakte, who are looking for strong and engaged programmers, and then invite them to work. And competitions for schoolchildren are no exception.
In order to find a job as a programmer already at school, you need to attract the attention of a potential employer. On recruitment sites, young developers will have to compete with older applicants and stand out from their background, which can be really difficult. Participation in hackathons will help you express yourself and show your skills in practice.
In the modern world, professional skills are more valued than specialized education. For example, an applicant for a developer job with a salary of up to 170,000 rubles requires an understanding of HTTP principles and version control systems (git), as well as experience in developing in Python. But about the diploma – not a word.
You can upgrade skills for work at any age, even while you are in school. In addition, more and more employers are ready to accept young employees, and some recruiting sites have begun to reduce the age marking of vacancies to 14+ years: for example, the youngest Skyeng employee Zhora Bugakov joined the programming team when he was only 14 years old. Thus, schoolchildren have the opportunity to get acquainted with the corporate culture of the employer and determine the vectors of personal and professional development, while companies have the opportunity to raise personnel, especially in the technology sector.
Such Russian IT giants as Citymobil, Kaspersky Lab, Samokat are already declaring a shortage of qualified personnel, and in the next 5-10 years, with the growing penetration of technology into all areas of production, the need for developers will only grow.
Now IT is changing all the industries familiar to us. Algorithms create more and more movie clips, algorithms help teachers in education, algorithms control the growth of plants and animals in agriculture.
Computer technology is fundamentally changing all the industries familiar to us. Knowing the basics of working with algorithms in 5-10 years will be as important as reading and counting. Whether we like it or not, whether we believe in the good of progress or consider it terrible, but without basic knowledge in the field of algorithms and programming, no one will have a truly successful career in the 21st century.
Points for admission
In addition to the opportunity to get acquainted with the future employer, competitions are career guidance and acquaintance with universities. And victories in the largest hackathons are taken into account when entering the university.
So, for example, the first place in “Your First Hackathon” in Pskov brought additional points in the entrance exams to Pskov State University, and the winners of the Go To Hack hackathon immediately reached the finals of the NTI Olympiad, which gives the winners the opportunity to receive benefits when entering specialized universities.
Another important feature of such events for schoolchildren is the educational program. During hackathons, lectures and master classes are held, however, developers can skip them in favor of working on the project. For young programmers, communication with practicing specialists is a source of not only inspiration, but also the necessary knowledge. Lectures help determine the direction of professional development and, possibly, choose a new interesting and promising programming language.
Representatives of the organizing companies, as well as invited experts, university professors and even world-famous developers share their experience with the guys.
How to find hackathons
Hackathons are divided into two main categories: regional and all-Russian competitions.
Regional universities usually organize local universities, so information about them is distributed through schools or on the official website of the university. For example, Togliatti State University in 2020, as an organizer, participated in the international project Kodu Game Lab. Young programmers, students of grades 1-11, developed games for computers and Xbox consoles. Such competitions help draw the attention of schoolchildren to local IT faculties and inspire them to study programming in depth.
For the last couple of years, most of the hackathons have been held online, so in order to find the right one, we advise you to follow the news of several of the most interesting and promising universities for admission.
Interesting hackathons for schoolchildren are organized and supported by such IT giants as Sberbank and Rostelecom. For example, Krok holds general hackathons for high school students and students. In this mixed format, their UrbanHack competition, where participants developed solutions to improve urban life, and MediaHack, where they were looking for new tools for the media, were held.
All-Russian competitions are usually organized by state or public projects. For example, the largest IT competition “Digital Breakthrough” is held as part of the program “Russia – the Land of Opportunities”. And, in addition to the adult large-scale hackathon (more than 45.5 thousand people took part in one of the stages in 2020), a version of the hackathon for schoolchildren is being held.
In addition, some educational programs for schoolchildren organize their own hackathons to fully immerse young developers in the profession. For example, the practical part of the programming course at our online school takes place in the hackathon format, where students can improve their programming skills and immediately try a new format, practice before other competitions.
What do you need to participate
To take part in the hackathon, it is enough to choose an event that suits the topic and submit an application. Sometimes it includes a test task. Competitions are usually chosen according to professional skills (working with Big Data, information security, and so on) or by area of interest (fintech, urban environment, medicine, journalism, etc.). To win the hackathon, experts recommend developing both hard and soft skills.
Hard skills include knowledge of programming languages, for example:
- Python (arguably the most popular programming language)
- C and C++
- R (popular for Big Data)
There are also tasks where it is useful to know HTML. It is desirable to understand several programming languages in order to work better in a team and be a more flexible and versatile hackathon participant. And teamwork and project presentation skills are essential for successful participation of soft skills. Companies often lack specialists who are able not only to write high-quality program code, but also to explain the solution and defend it in front of the team or investors. Therefore, people with similar skills get more attention at hackathons.
Sometimes at competitions it is required to assemble a whole working group. It includes a project manager who takes on the role of a leader, drawing up a work plan and distributing tasks among the participants, a designer (whose tasks are sometimes performed by a front-end developer) and a marketer who will be able to determine the audience of the product and attract the first users. Therefore, it is also useful for future managers, designers and marketers who want to work in modern technology companies to understand programming and participate in hackathons.
Summer is a great opportunity for additional immersion in programming. It is important that 13-14% of teenagers themselves want this (according to the results of a study that the Skysmart school conducted before the launch of its summer program). Therefore, it is very important to use the holidays to your advantage and prepare for your professional future from school.
As in any competition, the main thing in hackathons is not victory, but participation. After all, after such a marathon, programmers have a new project in their portfolio and many useful contacts, especially with potential employers.
The hackathon market is growing every year and covers all new directions. For 2021, about 30 hackathons (including online format) have already been announced or held from various organizers, including banks (Sberbank, PSB and others), largest retailers (Magnit, Lenta) and IT- companies.
It is useful for everyone to participate in hackathons: beginners will get to know the right people, and experienced programmers will find a potential employer or create their own startup. Schoolchildren at such competitions can immerse themselves in the industry and start their careers with a resounding victory.
Learn more about where to study as a programmer:
- Top 5 Online Schools to Learn Programming from Scratch