How was my Vanhackathon experience

Past month I joined the second edition of the Vanhackathon, a challenge where a community of developers and designers meet some companies challenges to solve it in two days.

My team was composed of tree developers and one designer. I was the backend developer, Cassiano Monteiro the iOS, Arleu Cezar Vansuita the Android and Simon Aguilera, our designer. I loved to work together with that guys, and I believe we got an impressive MVP at the end. All the project are open source, and you can check what we did on our repositories: iOS, Android, Backend API.

So, after two days of hard work we ship our solution, and the project was opened to get votes into a public vote model. For our good surprise, after two weeks of public votes, our project was the first among others 93 projects submitted, and our team gets tree free months of Vanhack Premium subscription for each member! Awesome!

The good parts.

  • I believe two days is a crazy deadline and for me was impressive how it pushed me to cut a lot of things and how it affects decisions along the development cycle. Usually, I like to have some extra time to add more tests, to think about the architecture and design, to do some code refactoring, etc. But in two days to do everything from the scratch to a complete solution you become to be more lean in your decisions, and this is awesome.

  • Usually when I start a new project today, I do it using Ruby on Rails as my default environment and here was not different. However, after got some problems in the first hours I quickly changed to other tool what was a combination of Node.js + Express, both technologies I had the chance to touch just some weeks ago, and looking in perspective it was an excellent choose to get the things done using something new at the same time.

  • The network is incredible and was great to see how many talents we have today around the country ready to shine and be the next stars on big companies around the world.

  • Was funny to see how people are creative and the results were really impressive to me, many of the projects have real chances to be profitable in the real world if the participants continue to working on that.

My suggestions to improve the next Vanhackathons.

Here are my two cents about what I believe (as a participant) that can be done to improve it to the next time, the current model is excellent and is working fine, but there’s always space for improvements:

  • After the two days of hard work, all participants started to wait for some feedback from the companies, but some companies still don’t publish any feedback about it yet. Maybe could be a good idea to set a deadline also for the companies to give some feedback on the next hackathons.

  • Also, could be a good idea to ask the companies to sponsor some list of prizes. I think it will attract more attention from developers around the world, improve the companies commitment and can also increase the participant’s happiness in the end. The Ruby Rampage team, for example, are doing an excellent job on it, take a look at the page of prizes to understand better what I’m talking about.

More companies should try and adopt it

Also, my participation on this hackathon give me some new perspective about the current tech interviews scenario. I believe more companies should think about to adopt it creating new hackathons around the world as a way to recruit new potential employees. A good and local example is a Brazilian company called Globo.com; they did it past year in my city to hire a new entire team to work on their new office.

I think the current model (adopt by some companies) of solving algorithms puzzles under a range of X minutes on a shared screen (or whiteboard) is stressful and seems sometimes unfair. A hackathon can give you a more realist approach to evaluating candidates since you can see in practice some skills like teamwork, communication, autonomy, speed to learn and adopt new tools, and much more than the single ability to memorize some algorithms.

Concluding

So, if you are a developer looking for something new, then definitely you should consider to joining the Vanhackton next time. The Vanhack team are doing an incredible work helping developers/designers to meet companies in Canada (and also around the world now). Also, if you never had the chance to participate in a two days code challenges then you should try it in the future, there’s a lot of different options available today (take a look at rumblex), chances are that you will have an incredible experience.

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Tailor Fontela

Software Developer. Full-time apprenticeship.