# Why VTHacks and MLH Events are Spectacular for the Community

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### TL;DR; Here’s why MLH Hackathons are awesome:

#### ★ Increasing Diversity in the Programming Industry

#### ★ Organizational Experience for Juniors/Seniors #### ★ Showing Others What Hacking is All About #### ★ Enabling Up and Coming Hacker All Stars to Collaborate and Learn #### ★ Organizing and Volunteering for Exciting Events to Make Your Major Fun #### ★ Eating Amazing Food All Weekend For Free.. lulz

Other hackathon events are fun too, but this MLH event seemed different. It’s the only one I’ve attended, so maybe the VT Hacks organization had something to do with it too.

### VT Hacks is an Amazing Event

I really had fun this weekend and met a lot of cool people. That’s kind of why I decided to volunteer – to network with people. I just thought I’d be volunteering moreso with people closer to my age and didn’t realize that the event was mostly run by undergrads.

This weekend even caused me to reconsider going to college. If I end up staying in the area, I’m definitely considering returning to Virginia Tech to pursue a degree in Math. Or maybe Biotechnology. Probably Math though, as that’s what I’m most interested in. Plus, there’s apparently no GPA requirement on the major at Virginia Tech and that’s nice because my GPA is pathetic, since I never really tried. Which is horrible, since that’s one of the major reasons I haven’t considered going back for a third time.

It should be obvious, but I really wish I had taken my education more seriously the first time around. I probably spent more time in Torgerson Hall this weekend than I ever did while I was at VT and that’s sad because that’s the Computer Science building. I never really hung out with anyone at school and I was always traveling for jamskating competitions, so I didn’t make the friends that would keep me on track. And I never really got the chance to understand what I was missing out on, so I selfishly threw it away.

I really hope people don’t follow in my footsteps. To say the least, I’ve made a ton of mistakes in the past decade, so it’s really amazing that I’ve been able to do what I have so far. If other people made some of the same mistakes, they might lose a promising future altogether. So stay in school, kids, because school is cool. And don’t do drugs. You’ll waste all your time, your most valuable resource. And you might end up irrevocably maiming your brain, your second most valuable resource as a programmer.

### MLH => Showing Others What Hacking is All About

Kudos to Swift, the MLH guys and VT Hacks for putting together a great event. I’m glad there are events like this being organized because it really helps others understand what hacking is all about. Hacking is often shrouded in mystery and misunderstood. And now there’s events with live streams so people can see what the action is like. These are the smartest kids in the country, creatively solving problems that half of them absurdly concocted just to show off their skills. I think events like this are going to make hardware and software exciting and I can’t wait to see where the guys at MLH take this.

### Extramural Collaboration and Fostering Lasting Relationships

Another great aspect of this is how the events are encouraging competition between schools – and not only that, but magnet schools in the area were invited as well. This is great, not only because increased competition drives students to hack harder, but also because competitors are likely to form relationships with their teammates that last a lifetime. In the tech industry, acquiring knowledge is crucial, obviously. And sometimes tech trends are local. So if you only interact with people locally, you’re only going to be exposed to the ideas around you. So making friends with students across the country is a great way to form bonds that will expose you to new things. But, doing so might also prove useful later when you graduate and you’re looking for a new job, which brings me to my next point.

### Employment and Internship Opportunities

This event was pretty much an unofficial job fair, where big name companies were looking for talent. You could tell they were looking to sign the big players. These hackathons are all great talent identification opportunities. I’d be willing to be that some companies would be willing to pay big bucks for rooms at some hackathons. I’m not sure what the sponsorship costs are, but they couldn’t be too cheap because our food was amazing!

### Amazing Food All Weekend

There was amazing food. There was Asian, Indian, Mexican and even Greek, I think. The food was all high quality local food, AFAIK.

So many hackathons I’ve been to serve pizza. A lot of pizza. Sometimes to the point of pizza, all day, every day. Free food is nice, but pizza is very acidic, very greasy and encourages drinking of soft drinks due to its greasiness. And healthy pizza is expensive. The brain needs a healthy diet! I can’t emphasize this enough, but I’ll try:

“The brain really, really needs a healthy diet!”

### Volunteering for the Community

One of the Virginia Tech policies I heard about this weekend was the Professionalism course required in the Computer Science major. Professionalism is a class where you basically get three credits for volunteering around 20 hours during the semester. Of course, now that I look it up, this course has been in CS at VT since at least the 90’s, although I think it’s now required for the CS major.

This is great because if you look around at the software communities in San Francisco, Denver and other major startup hubs, you’ll see thriving technology communities full of meetups, mentors, networking, opportunities and more. And someone has to put in the work to get this together. If those people who volunteer their time to do this weren’t there, it would fall apart. And these events are the best opportunities for younger coders to listen to experienced coders talk about new technologies.

If you’re dedicated enough to attend this meetups, good for you. That’s great: you’re probably learning a ton. If you’re dedicated enough to volunteer your free time to organize these events, that’s amazing. The industry needs more people like you because it’s one huge aspect of what makes software fun. Make sure you put that shit on your resume.

When I was living in Denver, there were tonnes of opportunities like this. So many, that after I was unemployed for a few months, I started attending meetups (1) for the networking opportunities and (2) for the free food … to save money lulz. In fact, I did this so often, I joked that **“I was on the meetup diet – just pizza and beer.” That was one of my openers for meeting new people, though I didn’t think of it like that at the time. I thought it was pretty funny though, lol.

“I’m on the meetup diet – just pizza and beer.” - David Conner, Man About Town