At AddThis, hackathons are a core component of our culture. They provide a great deal of value for our company — from exploring product improvements to supporting employee bonding. If you’re not familiar with hackathons, they’re typically 24-hour events where people get together to collaborate on a variety of projects – projects that aren’t restricted to programming.
To an outside observer, hackathons might seem a little strange. “You mean to tell me that you drop work for two days out of every quarter, stay up all night, and putz about on random projects? Isn’t that a big waste of time?” Yes, we do putz about, but no, the time spent on hackathons is anything but wasted.
Here are 7 ways hackathons make AddThis a better company:
No matter what project you’re working on, whether it’s a succulent garden for your office or a new employee communication app, hackathons are a time to enjoy yourself.
2. Transfers skills.
Engineers draw pictures, marketers write code, and designers pen blog posts.
3. Improves culture.
People from across the office learn each others’ names, develop solid friendships, learn strengths and weaknesses, and get comfortable using each other as resources.
4. Releases creativity.
This is the chance to attempt that great idea you’ve been putting off! I preach my ideas all quarter, but hackathons are my chance to really prove their value.
5. Fosters team and company loyalty.
Hackathons prime your brain. All quarter, you find yourself thinking, “How can I make this whole company better? So much better that I’ll win and get high fives!”
6. Encourages risk-taking.
Don’t be afraid to tackle scary projects. They can lead to some of your best work.
7. Generates genuine products.
Many of today’s moneymaking projects began as goofy hackathon adventures! We’ve also used hackathons to make improvements to our office space.
Hackathons are actually a great example that sometimes the best way to accomplish a valuable goal is to make it feel like a game.
For us, hackathons add as much to the AddThis recipe for success as our agile engineering methods, or our hiring tactics. It might be a little silly for us to evangelize about one of the most tangy ingredients of our secret sauce, but we at AddThis like spice!
Whether you run a furniture store or design jet engines, I’m a huge advocate for trying out a hackathon focused on your passion! Make a furniture fort or build one of Da Vinci’s weird flying machines. You might not believe me until you see it for yourself, but when it comes to hackathon, everyone wins.
Want to join us for our next hackathon? Visit our careers page and check out our open positions!