Courtesy of Erik Zhang
Erik Zhang, third from left, attends his first hackathon last year with friends, from left, Anson Bridges, Jonathan Liu, Gage Rodriguez, Dean Tan and Nakul Shenoy.
Last year, as a freshman, my friends and I were in California Pizza Kitchen for a late lunch. We had just completed our first hackathon (DeveloperWeek, the biggest professional hackathon in the U.S.), an event where we worked on a project for 24 hours and competed for five finalist spots among hundreds of mostly professional developers. With minimal sleep the night before, we were exhausted, having just finished our pitch. We looked forward to returning to our beds at home.
While waiting for our pizzas, we got a call asking us to pitch as a top-five finalist. Confused, we told the caller that he had the wrong number and hung up. Minutes later, we received an email from DeveloperWeek asking us to return to the venue to pitch as a finalist.