An exciting two-day hackathon to prepare students for a career in the corporate world.
After 2 successful online editions on Thola, Hack The Future organised it’s first hybrid edition earlier this month. During this initiative organised by De Cronos Groep, the students’ creative and coding skills were challenged to solve the world’s biggest problems within a limited timeframe. This year the participants could enjoy the magic touch of the ‘Wizard Academy’ theme. Wondering how the event organisers experienced this hybrid event on Thola? Read the interview with Jocelijn Geurts below.
What is a hackathon?
The word ‘hackathon’ has its origins in cybersecurity where a particular problem has to be hacked in a number of hours. We have expanded this concept to ‘hack your mind’ where students can choose from a range of 25 challenges, which are guided by coaches from the competence centres of De Cronos Groep. Students are given a few hours to crack this challenge and pitch their solution. At the end of the day, the winners for each challenge are announced. Over the years, we have chosen to expand our hackathon to 2 days to distinguish between the IT challenges and Creatives challenges.
What was the purpose of this event?
The aim of this event is to introduce students and schools to De Cronos Groep and the various competence centres that belong to it. This with the purpose of further cooperation in the future. This could be in the form of an internship or a first work experience, but also equally for students with entrepreneurial ambitions or students who are still exploring what exactly they want to do. They are all welcome to come and have a chat with us.
Did you have any doubts beforehand?
It was the very first time that we organised this event in a hybrid way, so that indeed raised some concerns. First of all, we had no idea about the percentage of students who would participate online or in-person. In addition, we also had some doubts with regards to how we would easily get the students who were physically present on Thola as well. The same goes for the overall connection between those who were physically present and those who participated at home.
How did you ensure similar experience for participants online as well as in-person?
Firstly, we made sure that the stage, that was located physically in the event venue, made its way into students’ living rooms by means of a livestream thanks to Ohana. That way, students could follow along online as if they were in the room themselves. In addition, we gave all participants several reasons to log on to the virtual event platform. On the one hand, all documentation was available online in Thola. On the other hand, the briefings and pitches took place in Thola, via a Microsoft Teams call so that the online students were also involved.
How was your experience in the end?
Although that there were quite a few questions and doubts, in the end everything went perfectly well, exactly as we expected. Thola’s event report also showed that the students easily found their way to the online event platform and were also very active on it when it came to chat messages. As for the participants, we are also happy that 10% of the students was able to participate online.
What was the outcome of this event?
Approximately 50 students have signed up to be contacted regarding internships and other matters, so we are definitely satisfied with that. This is, of course, a short-term result. In the long term, this event pays off as we strengthen and improve our relationship with schools year after year.
Why would you recommend Thola?
Thola is a great user-friendly tool that you can tailor to your own needs. You can make it into something really nice so that everyone immediately feels at home. Or, like we did with Hack The Future, you can design it around a specific theme. In addition, the strength of Thola comes mainly from the fact that the involved project managers can quickly and easily empathise with the intention of the event, allowing them to think along and give tailor-made advice in an efficient way.
To whom would you recommend this kind of event?
A hybrid event seems like it could fit into all kinds of contexts. From a conference, to seminar but also just as well internal events like a sales meeting for example. Especially in the context of sustainability, it is interesting that a company can offer a hyrid option so that participants do not all have to travel to a certain destination. Moreover, I am convinced that it is an added value for participants to have the choice whether to participate online or physically.