Summer of Tech’s Create Camp is almost here!

SOT priceme

My team placed third at Summer of Tech's Create Camp in 2016 for an app called "Price Me".

Are you a graduate student thinking about attending Summer of Tech’s Create Camp? It is a great opportunity if you’re trying to gain attention from potential employers (who attend or serve as mentors). Solnet and many other organisations participate in this programme when seeking fresh new faces.

As a graduate, I got a huge amount out of the Summer of Tech program. I’d like to share my first-hand experience as well as what I would’ve done differently to prepare. 

A quick recap

Two years ago, I entered Summer of Tech’s Hackfest (as it was called at the time). It was a rollercoaster ride of frantic caffeine-fuelled coding, but it ended with a feeling of fantastic accomplishment: building my first working (well, sort of) web application. 

Arriving early on Saturday morning, I met five new people who would be my teammates for the duration of the two-day challenge. From there we connected with a mentor, huddled up and planned out what we were going to build.

Our team decided to create a web application to compare prices using Trade Me data. 

Challenges

Our team’s biggest challenge upfront was choosing the technology we would use for the challenge. Ultimately, we decided to keep it simple – the more tech in the stack, the more complicated things get. We didn’t want to troubleshoot unexpected problems while racing the clock!

As it was, I was tasked with helping to translate our interface design from a Photoshop graphic into HTML, and I spent a lot of time fixing little environmental issues ….

In the meantime, our other three developers worked on implementing charts for the page to display sales-driven data, deploying our solution to Heroku, and integrating with Trade Me’s motor API.

The first day was the hardest. However, by about midday on Sunday, we had our application finished! The rest of the time was spent pulling together a presentation to demonstrate what we had done and why. Every team demoed their application, so we could see what was created over the weekend.

Lessons learned

Looking back now, there are some things I would have done to better prepare myself. Here’s what I would advise all “Create Campers” do ahead of time:

  • Set up Atom (free text editor).

  • Have a few git basics (common version control software) under your belt.

  • Brush up on Javascript fundamentals and consider JQuery as a tool.

  • Bring some CSS templates with you, ready to copy from.

  • Ahead of the competition, deploy an app to Heroku (free deployment software) to see how easy it is to launch a web page. 

Let me stress that you don’t need to be an expert at any of these technologies! Just allow yourself a couple of days to prepare. 

I’m really looking forward to helping participating teams and I can’t wait to see what ideas and innovations will be presented this year. Good luck to all participants; I’ll see you at Camp!

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