HackMIT: The Ends

About 12 hours ago HackMIT wrapped up its closing ceremonies. During the course of the hackathon me and two of my friends (same team from HackBeanpot) created an Android app that helped you find your friends when you want to meet up with them. This post however is not about the app.

All three of us had no Android dev experience which made creating an app challenging. My knowledge of Windows app dev did not really transfer over. We first started out with five different ideas and had to choose one to actually work on during the event. The idea for the app we ended up making we thought up right before the hackathon started.

As with most hackathons I had trouble from the start. Since we were doing an Android app I needed to get the Android emulator working on my Surface. A couple hours of uninstalling, reinstalling, and troubleshooting later I ended up borrowing somebody’s phone to test the app on and didn’t use the emulator at all.

I assigned myself to working on getting photo taking in the app working. Seemed like a simple enough task but the Android documentation wasn’t the greatest. I found one page that looked like a good source but there were some parts on the page that weren’t explained at all. I then found another page that gave simple enough instructions on how to do what I wanted to do. Building the UI was also a challenge for me because I didn’t know that there was a drag and drop editor in Android Studio until after we finished demoing to judges, I just did everything in the XML editor.

There were a lot of people who were impressed with what we did considering it was our first Android app. During our pitches to judges I didn’t talk that much mainly because the app didn’t work on the phone I was borrowing (so much hard coding) but also because I didn’t feel that great about what I implemented. I only implemented the camera feature of the app. It’s slow and doesn’t look that great in app. Also when the picture is uploaded to Parse (that is what we used for our backend) it’s rotated 90 degrees. However right before the closing ceremonies we were mistakenly told that we made it into the final 8. We were actually in the top 16 which is still good but pales in comparison to the final 8 projects. Every single one of the apps in the final 8 was polished, almost all of them used one or more sponsor APIs, and their ideas were really great as well. I was impressed by all of them.

During the opening ceremonies Alexis Ohanian and Adora Cheung gave talks about what they have done in tech and they both wished hackathons were around when they were in college, they would have had a leg up when they were first trying to figure out what they wanted to do. I feel like hackathons aren’t the extraordinary now but are expected. People expect you to have good grades, tons of side projects, and a deep love of technology shown by coding for 24 hours straight instead of sleeping and destressing on weekends.

I am going on co-op next semester and I am looking forward to it but I don’t really think I will get to work at my dream company. I don’t think I’m good enough for Microsoft, Google, Apple, or Amazon. I don’t have the ability to make the next Facebook. I’m going to be just another resume at Riot Games. My friends say I have nothing to worry about because I go to hackathons, because I have side projects, because I love technology. I’m still skeptical. I think there are a lot of people that are better than me at what I know. I try to take any opportunity to learn more from those people but at the end of the day somebody else will probably be picked over me.

Not everybody can get a job at Google, Apple, or Microsoft but you always have to think that you can be one of the lucky few. I think my greatest weakness really is the fact that I am afraid of rejection, I am afraid of hearing no. This is a fear probably everybody has. I didn’t ask my parents if I could do things because I would just assume they would say no. I don’t often branch out and talk to new people partially because I am afraid they wouldn’t actually want to talk to me. I haven’t bothered applying to some co-op companies because I just assume I wouldn’t have a chance.

Even with all that I still go to hackathons and I still work on side projects. Computer science is all I know. I still enjoy coming up with an idea and then working on it for 20 hours straight. I really enjoy the side projects I work on. Even if I think that other people will not find the work I do impressive I do the things I do because I personally enjoy doing them. Nobody else’s opinion will change that.