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Hackathon Wisdom for a Non-Coder

I volunteered for one of NYC's first all female hackathon. As a non-coder I gained some unexpectedly interesting insight.

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Hackathon Wisdom for a Non-Coder

In late April I volunteered for an all female hackathon--#SheHacksNYC-- sponsored by Monarq at Trello's lofty offices in the Financial District, NYC. Over 30 women had submitted project ideas, teams were created, and by Friday evening the women were grouped and talking shop.

I am a not a coder. I'm a trained painter, Stage Manager, and English teacher to small children. While I love and work in tech, my coding skills are limited to 8th grade HTML.

That weekend and these women have been inspiring. I'm blown away with what they created and the lessons I'm bringing into my life. Here are five key takeaways for a non-coder from a hackathon.

CINCO*: You don't have to understand the tech to get the concepts. I'm only beginning to learn about APIs, full stack, tech-speak, and new coding languages. But each moment I realize that I don't have to understand the technology to get the ideas and concepts. These women are passionate, idea-filled, and conscious that their audience isn't always a coder. This hackathon considered the importance of all sides of a new product including coding, marketing, design, business development, and pitching to potential clients and investors.

CUATRO*: Everyone is interesting. Everyone has a story to tell. I heard about new projects being working after the traditional 9-5 work hours. I heard tales about leaving multi-decade professions to pursue passions. It's been a joy and a privilege to listen to these women. Their stories have inspired me to get off my butt to take further actions on my goals.

TRES*: Simple gestures matter. I learned how and made many rounds of cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos this weekend. Beginning with the personal interaction of asking for orders and ending with a hot coffee delivery, my fellow barista extraordinaire Lydia and I fulfilled on caffeine promises. These women were unreasonably grateful not just the coffee but also the recognition of a need (the caffeine) and the follow-up ask. Simple gestures matter. Those gestures make a difference in that moment and moments add up fast.

DOS*: I could be a coder. I could learn and start working with a new career path in mind. I could be a designer. I could pick up Adobe Creative Suite or balsamiq. With passion, I could do just about any damn thing I want. The diversity of "how I got here stories" provides a wealth of future possibilities for those who are truly listening. No ceilings. No limits. There is no stopping me (or you)! How exciting is that?

UNO*: A group of women working together--even if on separate projects-- is a powerhouse of potential. This was my first female-only tech event (except for some exceptional male mentors). This experience has far exceeded my expectations. Women, when brought together in a challenge like a hackathon, are a force to be reckoned with.

*At the hackathon we found that counting down backward in Spanish tends to be an effective tool to gaining the others attention.

** #SheHacksNYC is hosting their second all-female hackathon this October. Please find more information at

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