Mentoring at the first Rocket.Build Community hackathon
Getting a bunch of college students to attend your event is easy—free food. Getting them to spend a warm April weekend solving problems that affect their community—not so much. However, as I arrived at the Wentworth Institute of Technology I saw 70+ motivated students from around the state who spent their Saturday night at our hackathon; working on projects from figuring out how to warn Bostonians about rising sea levels, expand the #Trashtag movement, guide newcomers to the housing market, and connect non-profits with eager volunteers. For the past few years, Rocket has used its birthday as an opportunity to give back. As we enter our 30th year we wanted to give back by doing what we do best, building software that matters.
We invited these students together and put them to the test of solving community challenges. Rocketeers were available all night long to provide technical feedback and design mentorship. We also ran several breakout sessions for the students, ranging from web development paradigms to tips on securing their next internship.
Walking up to these students, their enthusiasm is instantly apparent. They want to show off what they’ve been working on, ask about the world of software development, and get feedback on their projects. I talked to a student who described their project as a “help line” then immediately turned back to the rest of their team, “Help Line! That’s a good name, we should use it!” As a DevOps engineer, it was great to give a different perspective to the typical software developer mindset that so many students have of their future. One had already had some exposure to the mainframe and we made sure to point him straight to Zowe! I spent some time with a team of first year students guiding them to stand up a java server and recognized the questions they asked and the problems they encountered as the same ones I had when I was in their place. They will be the knowledgeable ones before I know it! We asked these students for a lot and they certainly delivered, by Sunday morning over twenty teams presented their ideas and we recognized a few of the truly outstanding ones. Not only do we get to mentor the next generation of engineers, but we get to provide tools and solutions to our community to solve the real problems they’re facing; what’s a better birthday present than that?