How a Virtual Hackathon Can Boost Your Engineering Recruitment Process

In July, we hosted a global virtual hackathon to champion our next generation of talent in tech! 

The goal behind running the virtual hackathon was to adopt a unique way of finding candidates to expand our engineering team. The event was specifically targeted at those who are familiar with UI/UC and react technologies for front-end development. 

Don’t worry, this article is less about tech jargon and more about why this is a very beneficial recruitment drive that innovative companies should consider. Stay with us!


What is a Hackathon?

If you work or have worked within the tech industry before, you’ll likely be familiar with the term but you may still be wondering what exactly a hackathon entails. 

Hackathons are events that bring together anyone from budding students to seasoned professionals, all with a common interest in programming, tech, and engineering, to collaborate for a short period of time on a project. 

Hackathons have risen in popularity over recent years, and it’s easy to see why. They are exciting, usually take place over a 24-hour period, have great prizes, and are a chance to meet people from all walks of life as well as build your skills. 


How is a Virtual Hackathon Different?

The major difference is that these people are bought together online, within a community, rather than in-person. With the tech industry as advanced as it is nowadays, virtual hackathons are becoming increasingly more popular than in-person hackathons. 


How Virtual Internships’ Hackathon Worked

We set our hackathon date for 4th July and gave participants up midnight on 3rd July to register to join. We invited tech enthusiasts from all over the world to join. All they needed to have was a keen interest in UI/UX and react technologies for front-end development. Skill level, qualifications, location, education, and background were not part of the criteria. 

With 78 participants registered to take part, we launched our hackathon event.


Round 1

The first round consisted of a multiple-choice and timed quiz on React and Javascript fundamentals.

Participants who successfully completed round 1: 27


Round 2

The second round was an activity-based task where participants had 72 hours to solve a technical problem. 

Participants who successfully completed round 2: 1 – our lucky winner!


Our Hackathon Winner – Francis Kilkex

Over the course of this four-day event, we thoroughly enjoyed interacting with tech enthusiasts from all over the world and bringing them together to network, build skills, and advance their careers. 

Of the 78 participants who took part, our winner was a 20-year-old, final-year college student from Nairobi, Francis Kilkex.

Alongside cash prizes for winners and runners-up, we offered an exciting internship to our winner. Francis took the opportunity to do a three-month internship with our product and engineering team and we’re delighted to have him on board to expedite his growth in this industry.

Congrats, Francis!

infographic to announce our virtual hackathon winner


Benefits of Including a Hackathon in Your Engineering Recruitment Process

As we outline at the start of this article, we wanted to put a spin on our engineering hiring process and trial this unique way of finding talent that may not have otherwise crossed our path. 

We encourage other innovative companies looking to diversify how they hire to try a hackathon. 

These are the top benefits we identified in hosting our hackathon:

1. Accessibility and Removing Recruitment Bias

As long as you had a genuine interest in tech, we had no criteria for our hackathon. We simply wanted tech enthusiasts to bring their skills and unique way of thinking to the table and impress us! 

We’re all about diversity and inclusion at Virtual Internships, as you’ll see in our VI-P Guide, the open source guide on what it’s like to work here. 

Running an event like this allowed us to present an opportunity to any person, anywhere in the world, based solely on their skills, and not their background, qualifications, or location. 


2. Cultural Alignment

Everyone at Virtual Internships is encouraged to take a leap of faith, leave their comfort zone, and be challenged on a daily basis because that’s how we grow, learn, and develop. 

This hackathon event evolved around encouraging people to step out of their comfort zone and approach problems in a different way.

It’s highly likely that the person you end up hiring from this process will have a problem-solving mindset with a zest for taking on new challenges!


3. Different Ways of Problem Solving

The beauty of remote work is working with a global team with people from a variety of different cultures, lifestyles, and backgrounds. 

As we said above, hackathons are based on problem-solving. But, the way in which you solve and approach a problem can be completely different depending on a variety of factors that have led you to be who you are. 

This was one of the main things we were excited to see!


Check Out Our Open Roles

Are you looking for a new role in an exciting EdTech scale-up on a mission to help young people pursue their dream global careers, check out our open roles here!

Alternatively, if you’re a student, graduate or career switcher looking to gain global experience on a remote internship in the engineering career field (or any of our other career fields, for that matter), find out more here!


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