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Romanian Splintters recently took part in the Codecamp Hackathon, a 24-hour programming marathon held on May 19, 2017 as part of the Codecamp IT International Conference in Iasi. The Hackathon was organized as a competition where people of various backgrounds and sharing a passion for software development came together to find technological solutions to present-day challenges. The challenge of the day was helping people to develop a habit of learning, to find new, ingenious and practical ways around learning problems that people face today: from finding out how to solve everyday tasks around the house, to facilitating the student/mentor interaction. We wanted to be part of this event because we believed we had something substantial to contribute to the idea of learning made easy and reliable. After all, learning is something that we Splintters are more than familiar with!
Participants worked in teams of 5 to 10 people and the competition was open both to already-formed teams, and to individuals looking to join a team, or form new ones. Providing support to the participants throughout the event were 15 mentors – experienced professionals skilled in a variety of fields: advertising and sales, business analysis and strategies, software engineering, UX design, or machine learning. The mentors also acted as members of the jury who made the final selection of two winning teams at the end of the Hackathon. The selection criteria were all focused around the feasibility of the final product: the winning idea had to be practical and easy to apply to specific problems, realistic in its chances of success, grounded in actual knowledge of the problem it’s aiming to solve, it had to be as close as possible to a working product and able to stand the test of real-world implementation.
There were two teams from Splintt participating in this event, with two separate projects. We were also lucky to have the help of a few friends from Maxcode on the development side, as well as two Erasmus students from Bosnia.
One project was called MenteeMent and it catered to educational needs that are not met at University level. There are many technologies that are used in IT companies but are not taught in Computer Science undergraduate programs. MenteeMent is a platform that can bring together students with mentors working in the industry who can teach them these technologies and thus help them integrate faster when hired.
The other project was called inEdIT and came as a response to a twofold problem that we have in Romania today. On the one hand, there are lots of senior high-school students who have little idea of what to do with their lives, and on the other hand, there are many IT companies looking for well-trained professionals but having a hard time finding them. inEdIT is a web portal that connects students looking to learn the ropes of the IT industry with mentors looking to teach future professionals. This program benefits young people looking for rewarding career opportunities by directing them towards a booming industry, and it benefits companies by allowing them to train and select future employees in a process that shortens their normal recruitment time considerably. inEdIT was also one of the two winning projects at the Codecamp Hackathon.
The best part of our participation in the Hackathon was the experience itself. First of all, it was a great opportunity to get to know each other, to bond with co-workers that we interact less with at the office, but also with the people we work with on a daily basis. It was not unlike a fun summer camp over the course of 24 hours. It was also a chance to meet new people, make new friends and be part of a local community that clearly has the energy and good ideas to make it. The Hackathon was first and foremost a social gathering that promoted cooperation and healthy competition, which we all benefited greatly from.
It was also a great networking opportunity, as we were granted access to some of the best minds working in IT and business development on the local scene. They were there to provide priceless advice on how our ideas could be taken from dream to reality and even to offer implementation support for the projects that they liked.
The Hackathon was a priceless learning experience for Romanian Splintters. We learned how strong we are when we work together. We managed to communicate efficiently, divide tasks among ourselves successfully according to our different abilities, and especially have fun in the process. This was yet more proof that fun is a key ingredient of success. When you’re having fun, a sleepless night of hard work can go by quicker than you think.
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