My first experience at a hackathon and lessons learned

Hi there FCC,

First, thanks for stopping by and reading/giving advice.

I attended my first hack today, apparently some people were there from FCC too. I made it all the way down to the end of basic algorithims section and understood everything why it was done .

The issue was, when it came down to make something at the hack, I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to use my JS knowledge of arrays, strings etc into a transferrable Android App. I didnt even know what software to use to write my stuff in cause I’m so used to writing code in the FCC browser terminal.

Talked to a few friends and really tried to understand where I wanted to be. I want to make apps and or a chrome extension etc. I still think front end is where I want to go. Maybe just approach it differently.

Im still debating if I should go to another hack in another 2 weeks. I’d love to hear about any parallel resources I should attempt on top of restarting FCC . This was a failure in terms of hack but a sucess to measure what I know and where to go next

Thanks for reading


It sounds like you were at the wrong hack. In order to write something for Android, you’ve got to have some knowledge beyond what FCC teaches. You’ll need Java or React Native, or something else.

I’ve never done a hackathon before, but I imagine that they announce what the technology stack is. I would think you’d want to choose an event that that is based in technology that you understand.


I think you can make apps with JavaScript.

Sure, there are technologies for that. But it’s quite advanced compared to FCC curriculum.

1 Like

Yes, React Native is an example. But javascript does not run natively on Android. If you write something in javascript it either has to run in a browser on the device (the it’s not really an Android app) or it has to be translated somehow. I write Android apps in React Native all the time, but that involved learning my JS very well, then learning React, then learning the peculiarities of React Native.


You should look into React Native if you’d like to develop apps. I picked up a course from Stephen Grider on Udemy, but I know there are a few other React Native courses on there that are pretty good.

Definitely get comfortable with JS and React first though, as suggested by @kevinSmith

Thank you all for the kind suggestions!

The algorithms don’t matter in that environment, and tbh being an experienced dev doesn’t help that much either. The aim is to hack something together with the minimal functionality needed as fast as possible. If it’s a tech you haven’t used before (very likely), you try to find a batteries-included framework that will allow you to build something in a few hours, and/or you find a tutorial online that walks you through building a basic app that does almost what you want, and modify it slightly. Even if it is a tech you know, you try to use drop-in components and frameworks, the simplest possible solution.

As an example, in the hackathons I’ve been involved in, one team built an Amazon Alexa app that got hygiene ratings for takeaways; someone had bought an Echo, and the three people on the team just followed some instructions on how to write an app. Another did a VR horseracing game, modifying a tutorial and using some stock game assets. In neither example did the people involved have any experience in the tech. Hackathons are about building something basic quickly. You don’t need a lot of experience, you’re there to build a minimal viable product, and to learn something new. Going to one focussed on Android apps is fine - bonus if you can get in a team with someone who has even a bit of Android programming and you can learn from them.

Also as a good, funny example:


Thanks for the reply. We did end up making a MVP but used a invision to prototype it. I’ll try that next time