So who wouldn’t want to help their own career while improving the community? Sounds like a win-win, right? Yes, it is! That’s what Open Indy is! The newest “brigade” from Code for America is now forming in central Indiana. While we’ve been meeting in stealth mode for a little while, the first official gathering will be at the Indy Civic Hackathon on 6/6/2015 at the Eleven Fifty Coding Academy.
The hackathon is going to be a fun event. In addition to being held at one of the coolest tech venues in the area, there are big-name sponsors and interesting challenges to work from IPS (2 different challenges), the city of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana – specifically the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA). In addition to getting your brain working on something other than whatever you do Monday-Friday, it puts you in-touch with some seriously great minds! This is the real value of a hackathon. While you have to work with the people at your company, a hackathon enables you to work with people who you may not otherwise contact…and in this environment, it’s all about sharing what you and others know. So you’re bound to learn a ton of new and interesting things that would be difficult in your day job. This will then help you in your day job and/or open your mind to other opportunities that you may not get with your company.
Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should do what they can to help your company. They pay you good money to do good things. However, is your work your life? No. Also, you need to expand your mind and continue to learn and – lets face it – you may not be able to do that in your current position. For example, if you’re dealing with the production support issue of the day, you can’t possibly think of the latest technologies.
So a hackathon gives you the opportunity to learn and do something new…and more importantly, to connect with the larger community that may be able to open doors for you to grow.
While I was recently in Puerto Rico, I was struck by the lack of techie culture that I have seen in other areas. In an informal survey of “techy social-ness”, I compared the technology “meet-ups” in Puerto Rico compared to central Indiana. I was horrified to find that Puerto Rico had only a fraction of meet-ups as central Indiana even though they have more than 3 times the people! This helps partially explain why Puerto Rico doesn’t have a strong tech community. By meeting and working with others outside of your traditional job, you strengthen both your job prospects as well as strengthen your community as a whole. So check out Open Indy and help yourself AND your community!