From Thursday evening, July 21st, into Friday morning, July 22nd, I participated in the 2016 Dell Intern Hackathon. As a current Dell intern working with the Dell Financial Services IT – Technology Software Testing team, I thought this would be an amazing opportunity to not only work with other interns on practical issues, but to also market my skills as a Computer Engineer.
With about 24 hours left before the hackathon began, I spoke with friends and joined a team. This team was different from any other hackathon team. It was a super team. There was Daniel Nfodjo, an IT intern working with Dell Cloud Services, Omose Ogala(myself), Patrick Saul, an IT intern working with Human Resources/Corp IT, and Eric Harvey, an IT intern working with Enterprise Business Intelligence. Together, we cleverly named ourselves D.O.P.E. Hackers.
I believed our team was great because we all had different skills that could be contributed to the team. Daniel and I are both developers. We understand how to create a product from scratch fairly well. Any task given to us, we could solve it. Although he had programming experience, Eric was primarily the networking guy. He was able to give insights on the importance of security during doorbuster sales. Lastly, Patrick was the point person. He did the research on our hackathon project idea, connected us with the right people and helped create the vision for our end product.
As mentioned before, Patrick connected us with a fellow co-worker who suggested an incredible idea for the Hackathon: “Creating a better way to manage Dell doorbuster sales”. Patrick then delved deeper to understand exactly what the problem was and brainstorm ways we could make recommendations to improve the system. He then shared the ideas and some possible solutions with the rest of the team.
Collectively, we began to brainstorm further about what we could do to fix some of the issues within the 16-hour time period given to us. We all came to an understanding of what we should implement, and we kept in mind that the customer is always top priority. We were now ready to start hacking!
Arriving at the Hackathon, my team and I were very enthusiastic. We listened in as the speakers gave us the walk through about the competition. We were briefed on event workshops, night activities, the food schedule and rules which we must follow. The last, but most important, rule was to “HAVE FUN”. With excitement written on our faces, we put on our custom made Hackers t-shirts (provided by Eric) with our names on the back – spelling out our team’s acronym, D.O.P.E – then proceeded to our work area for the night. Before we starting hacking, we came together and split up our roles based on our strengths. Patrick began working on our slides and project pitch, while Daniel, Eric and I began developing new features for the dell website.
Things were going quite well. We knew what we had to do and were working diligently to achieve the goal – that was until 1am struck. Around this time, we ran into a problem with our code. Something we were trying to implement was not working at all. After a few hours trying to figure it out, we attempted another approach. After working diligently to find new solutions, we finally broke through and fixed the new feature, although it did not work as efficiently as we anticipated. We then had to change our final approach to something completely different from the first two. This was extremely tiring, and by the time we got the erroneous features to work, around 6am, we were ready to call it a night. Although we had some more time to add in additional features.
Patrick began to motivate us to keep working hard. We continued to code, added in more features and made what we had already created more stable and aesthetically pleasing. With only 15 minutes before our cut off time, we finally finished our code as Daniel began to push all of our code into GitHub. We finally did it! We completed the project with our original vision. But was this solution good enough to take home first place?
By 9am, we were finally ready to present our project. We set up our booth with our demos, along with our D.O.P.E. Hackers team t-shirts displayed. As people stopped by our booth, we immediately began to get positive feedback on our project. Most observers were pleased to find that our project focused on the customer by providing an efficient solution to their issues. This was important because giving the customers a great experience is something that Dell takes much pride in. Even as the judges came around, we noticed that they understood the issue and agreed with our solution and our implementation for improvement.
By 10:45am, presentations were over and the winners were about to be announced. They started by announcing second, then third and finally first place. Our team, D.O.P.E. Hackers, came in first place! We were very proud of what we had achieved.
So, What Did I Learn?
I learned that in anything you do, it’s important to work as a team. We came together with different strengths that complimented each other. We heard each other out, but more importantly we motivated each other to do better than we thought we could. Developing through the night is not an easy task, but when you have that drive and motivation, plus a supportive team with a clear vision, you can achieve greatness!
Left to Right: Daniel Nfodjo, Omose Ogala, Patrick Saul, Eric Harvey