What Startup Weekend means for a Developer

Image representing Startup Weekend as depicted...

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As developers, we’re an inventive bunch.

All day long, we sit around and figure out innovative ways of solving the world’s problems, one line of code at a time. So, it’s only natural that we come up with new ideas that solve bigger problems than the latest bug we’re asked to fix. But who has time to really follow through on that awesome idea, or to write that really great piece of software that does it better than anything else out there? Most of us don’t.

Enter the solution: roughly twice a year, a fantastic event known as Startup Weekend emerges to give us the opportunity to innovate! This event is a great chance to get that nagging idea out and to do something with it.

Startup Weekend brings together innovative young entrepreneurs through events held all over the world for an action-packed weekend of brainstorming, hard-core coding and bug squashing – all for the thrill to build a new product in a mere 54 hours. As developers, we are the jet fuel that propels that nebulous idea to its greatness as a final wondrous creation, and it feels great to stand up at the end of three long sleepless days and nights and show to the world that we are the kings of code. But other than showing off your coding Kung-Fu to the world, why should developers come out to startup weekend?

Reason #1: It’s fun

As a guy who just loves to build stuff, take it from me: Startup Weekend is fun. What self-respecting coder wouldn’t love a weekend of free food and working with really smart people to get something out the door? And if that doesn’t do it for you, then the serious party afterward will be sure to float your boat! (Although be sure not to go too crazy on Saturday or the jet fuel in your coding machine might be molasses on Sunday, when it counts the most. I speak from experience.)

Reason #2: Job Opportunities

Representatives from lots of local startups and established companies will be around, and they’re always in the market for their next rock star coder. And even if you don’t meet a guy who’s looking to hire, it’s never a bad idea to show off your mad skills to everyone in the community, since you never know when you’ll be looking for a new gig. Besides, having a great reputation as a killer coder will certainly present opportunities in the future, even if you aren’t looking for something now.

Reason #3 : Social Network Building

Not Really.

Last Startup Weekend*

As mentioned above, knowing people In The Know is never a bad thing. People from varying disciplines, from the arts, to education, business, and IT, come out to Startup Weekend, so it’s a great place to make some new friends.

Reason #4: Learn a New Language

Who doesn’t want to learn the intricacies of Erlang while trying to build the next Facebook in 54 hours? In all seriousness, Erlang looks horrible. I was at a presentation from the Edmonton Ruby User Group a few weeks ago where they presented Erlang – it really looks horrible.

OK, really seriously, as a developer, we are constantly pressured to keep up with the latest trends. If you’re a C# guy, maybe you’re partnered with a guy who knows Ruby or Java – why not give it a go and see how you like it? Being able to add another language to your resume, on top of the ten you already know, can only help you in the future, right?

Reason #5: Learn a New Skill set

This one is huge. Maybe in your current role as a programmer at a large company, or as a student, you don’t get a lot of leadership or project management opportunities. Well, now’s your chance! The great thing about Startup Weekend is that it’s all about pitching in wherever you can – so if your team is seriously lacking in leadership or another role, step up and give it a chance! Who knows – Monday, you might realize that you really hate programming and would rather manage people instead!

All in all, Startup Weekend is one of my favorite events in the Startup Edmonton group of events. The opportunity to get a group of smart people in a room and build something useful as fast as possible is truly amazing. Even if you don’t produce something that works, it’s a lot of fun and the benefits are numerous.

See you there!

* Not Really from Last Startup Weekend.

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