In January I participated in my first Hackathon, winning Second Place for my Slack-integrated chat bot. I had little to no programming experience, but with encouragement from MOSA, I entered the challenge on a whim.
As a long-time sufferer of Impostor Syndrome, trying new things at which I may fail miserably is often difficult. Activities foregone due to fear of failure include bowling, golfing, karaoke, and math without a calculator. When MOSA first encouraged me to join the Hackathon, I thought, “No way am I making a fool of myself in front of all these Ivy Leaguers.” Negative self-talk often knows no bounds.
Upon my acceptance to Penn for Spring 2020, I immediately thought the Admissions Team was mistaken. Surely someone else was more qualified, smarter, better pedigreed, insert-other-quality-here, but my insecure outlook was misguided. I didn’t apply to Penn to compare myself to others. I applied to become a software engineer, to learn in a top tier institution surrounded by inspiring peers, each with unique experiences and wisdom to share.
Hackathons are great way to test drive a new skill or programming language. My idea for a chat bot was sparked shortly after joining the MCIT Slack channel and reading numerous questions from students about coursework, office hours and other information tidbits. Chat bots can be called upon any time to answer questions, eliminating redundancy and the time lag between asking a question and receiving an answer.
To all future MOSA Hackathon participants:
Don’t be afraid to take the leap into the unknown. At worst, you’ll have learned something new to build on in future projects.Jen Macklin
I look forward to embarking on my next Hackathon adventure and working with my fellow classmates!