Participant Resources

User Story: How Hackathons Helped Brij Stand Out in the Job Hunt

See how Brij, a Devpost user, developed his skills through hackathons and stood out to recruiters.

Meet Brij Patel, an avid hackathon enthusiast who went from being a university hackathon participant to a full-time software developer. Check out how he harnessed the power of hackathons to unlock new skills, confidence, and career opportunities.

Tell us about your first hackathon

I participated in my first Devpost hackathon as a strategy to avoid cooking. In my second year of university, I heard that a nearby university was organizing a hackathon with cash prizes and free pizzas. Money + pizzas is hard to deny, so I took an early train and attended that hackathon. I didn’t win, unfortunately, but something triggered in me, seeing the winning team get that big prize motivated me to participate in more. Eventually, after seven straight losses, I won my first hackathon!

I made a lot of mistakes in my first hackathon. Even though the problem statement was very clear, we added too many extra things to our project in an attempt to impress the judges. That ended up backfiring, as we failed to properly explain our main approach properly. One lesson you can take away from that is to stick to the problem statement when building out your project.

In what ways did hackathons help you expand your professional network? 

Hackathon is a synonym for networking. I was an introverted student during my first few years of university. Participating in hackathons and presenting my projects publicly helped me overcome my stammering and gave me the confidence to reach out to others and ask them about their projects.

Through some of those conversations I met a Thomson Reuters recruiter, who later helped me land the three internships I had with them, and eventually my full-time role.

How did the skills and experiences gained from hackathons contribute to your success during the job application and interview process?

The skills gained from hackathons definitely help in the everyday working environment. If you are frequently participating in hackathons, your speed of debugging increases exponentially, you can easily navigate through the code, you don't get impatient, and have a relatively higher focus than an average software engineer, which sets you apart from other candidates.

What advice would you give to developers who are considering participating in hackathons on Devpost? How can they make the most of the experience to advance their careers?

Don't stop participating in the hackathons just because you are not winning. I lost seven in a row just to win my first one. That’s the only piece of advice I have for all hackathon participants. I usually follow this motto very seriously: “Absolutely refuse to give up.”

It’s incredible to witness such growth from our users, Brij, and we’re glad hackathons have had such a positive impact on your career. We hope Brij's story has inspired you to embark on your own hackathon journey, or if you've already begun, to persist in the pursuit of your goals.

Inspired to join a hackathon? Check out our open challenges here.

If you have your own inspiring story or would like to share your thoughts on hackathons and their impact, we'd love to hear from you.

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