RevolutionUC is an annual hackathon hosted by the [email protected] student organization. I have been an executive member of the organization for 2 years, and I volunteered for organizing RevolutionUC both years. RevolutionUC organizers are split into 4 teams – Logistics, Sponsorship, Marketing, and Web. This year, I was given the opportunity to be the lead of the Web team, and I was equal parts excited and scared for this. But I recognize that we can only learn new things and develop ourselves when we do things outside our comfort zone, and that is always a scary endeavor. So, I happily accepted the opportunity. And I can confidently say that this has been one of the best experiences of my life.
My work and responsibilities during this experience can be put into three broad roles: a Developer, a Leader and an Organizer.
This opportunity allowed me to explore my passion of automation, software development, and problem solving. As the Developer, I designed some systems and applications that helped us organize the entire hackathon by automating some tasks. This architecture diagram shows all the various applications and services, and how they interact with each other, and with the users. Most of these were built from scratch by me and my team this year. Others were built by my predecessors and have existed for a few years. We just maintained them and gave them a few feature upgrades.
Managing a system and a team proved to be the most difficult part of the experience for me, as I have always been a solo guy. But I do have a little bit of experience and exposure to how management is done effectively, so I knew where to start. In this age, our tools can do half the job for us, so we need to know the strengths and limitations of the tools we are using. I was using Microsoft Teams for meetings, notes, files and updates (example). Trello was my choice for managing tasks. I made use of columns, checklists, labels, assignments, and integrations to customize the Trello board to our needs (example).
The day of event was a tough one, as my work started very early in the morning, so I had to skip breakfast. After getting done with my day-of chores like setting up the live site, making sure everyone is able to check in, and everything is running smoothly, I finally got a little time to grab a bite and a coffee. The rest of the day was all about talking to attendees on our Discord, helping participants with projects, and making new connections. We had over 230 participants from 11 countries, in addition to representatives from sponsor companies, mentors from the industry, and qualified judges. A bunch of mini-events were hosted for the attendees to take a break and socialize.
This experience helped me develop myself in not just one or two, but all of the 5 UHP competencies. Additionally, the systems I built as a part of this experience are not mere hobby projects, but industry-grade software that is deployed in the cloud and is expected to handle hundreds of users. I can put this on my resume and showcase to potential employers. I am sure they will be interested in someone who can manage a system of this scale, as well as the soft skills that come with leading a team and organizing an event.