I found out about Sparq’s Hackathon via a school information board at Aiken Technical College. At the time I didn’t know what it was, or even who Sparq was, but it sounded like something I would be interested in as a software developer. As I learned more by asking around, I realized that this would be a good opportunity to put some of my programming skills to the test. After an easy sign-up process online, I was then emailed with more info as to where, when, and what the event was going to entail.
I was excited to find out that the goal of this Sparq Hackathon was to create a mobile web application, which immediately reminded me of jQuery Mobile. I just happened to have been studying jQuery Mobile at the time, and it would be a good opportunity to put it into practice on an actual project. My wife Eva and I decided to participate in the event together as she is a programmer also, and was studying jQuery Mobile as well.
Upon arriving to the Hackathon, the participants were given a “goodie bag” that included an Sparq T-Shirt, a pen, and a flash drive with the needed content and instructions, as well as some other neat odds and ends. Because of the large number of participants, Eva and I were also given three additional teammates to work with.
While some software developers might not like the idea of working with unfamiliar faces, this is similar to a real work environment and turned out to be a good experience for all involved. I had the opportunity to get more leadership experience in a programming team environment, as the team agreed to have me take the lead. In this role, I was able to assess each individual team member’s strengths and try to give each person a part of the project where they could reach their full potential. Our teammates had the opportunity to learn a lot more about jQuery Mobile, as they primarily only had HTML and CSS website development experience prior to the Hackathon.
In addition to this, we all were able to get further experience completing a programming project with a team, and then presenting our website in a clear and positive way that showed its value. We had the chance to meet many people that we did not know before, who we continued to keep in communication with through email and other means.
It’s been a year since I first met the team at Sparq, but I now have the pleasure of saying I am a part of this team that, through continuous effort, is a positive force in the community. This team is growing rapidly and has recently placed No. 1634 on the 2014 Inc. 5000 list with a three-year sales growth of 261 percent.
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