The 2023 MLH Hackathon Season has officially begun! The MLH community is where hackers come to get their hands dirty with code and the technologies that employers actually care about. Hackathons are the perfect place for developers to do just that, which is why…
Last season, Major League Hacking (MLH) hackathons attracted nearly 75,000 hackers from around the world and things are shaping up to be even bigger in the year ahead. We have been humbled and inspired by all these amazing hackers. Whether it’s someone like Anita Yip, who has attended over 100 events, each time forming a team with beginners to help them grow, or Ashwin Kumar Uppala who built his own hacker community in Hyderabad from the ground up, these hackers have stood out in the ways they serve and strengthen the community.
We’re thrilled to see so many people building, learning, and growing with MLH. Whether they’re beginners to programming or experienced hackers who have been building things for years, our community constantly inspires us with their energy and passion. In fact, hackers have been so passionate about MLH and our events that we’ve become the largest organizers of both in-person and digital hackathons worldwide!
As a co-founder of Major League Hacking (MLH), I’ve made it my personal mission to empower the next generation of tech talent. Twelve years ago, I attended my first hackathon and the experience transformed me. Creating something out of nothing and the camaraderie of hackathons inspired me to empower others. I’ve been an avid hackathon advocate ever since. Joining the hacker community allowed me to follow my dreams and today tens of thousands of hackers are able to have the same life changing experience I did too!
So, what does the year ahead look like for MLH?
This is gonna be the best season yet.
In 2019, our community hosted more than 1,200 events (hackathons, workshops, and meetups) They all took place in-person, primarily on university campuses around the world. When the pandemic came along in early 2020, we knew we only had one choice – bring hackathons and the MLH community online!
We weren’t sure what would happen at first. What would the community think of this new and untested digital/online format? However, looking back, the benefit was obvious. Previously the stars had to align for you to get started with MLH. There needed to be an in-person event for you to attend locally, but now anyone in the world could join any week of the year, no matter where in the world you’re located. We’ve hosted at least one digital MLH event every single week since July 2020, expanding access to the MLH community radically.
We have a lot going on in the digital world at MLH. I’m really excited about our team’s commitment to continuing to democratize access to this community, and we hope you are too. But, in addition to creating compelling digital spaces, MLH needs to start thinking about bringing our community back together in-person as well.
Last year at INIT, when we first announced the transition back to in-person events, we found out that living with COVID still required a lot of learning. With the help of dedicated organizers, the MLH team has refined our best practices and support systems to streamline the experience for future organizers.
This year the timing is right. Looking to the Fall, 82% of the MLH community feels comfortable attending in-person events with more than 250 participants this fall as long as strong COVID safety precautions are in place. This is a really strong signal that we’ll start seeing a meaningful number of in-person hackathons starting in September.
The return of in-person events signals a time to rethink our digital hackathon strategy. We’d previously committed to continue to offer at least one digital event every weekend of the year, indefinitely.
I’m excited to announce that MLH is doubling down on digital events to make it even easier for new hackers to join our community. Our first step will be to offer at least two digital hackathons every weekend, starting at different times to better accommodate hackers all over the world.
It might seem strange that we have multiple opening ceremonies, but here’s why: By running multiple hackathons during the weekend with different start times and themes, we can make the events easier to understand while simultaneously expanding opportunities for hackers.
Additionally, we’re investing resources into making the MLH digital hackathon experience the best in the world. There will be additional prizes, activities, and swag throughout the weekend as part of this year’s season. Our learnings will also be codified into best practices that can be shared with the entire community to make digital hackathons more enjoyable for everyone.
That’s why I’d like to introduce you to the MLH Pizza Fund.
Did someone say pizza?
We’ve partnered with some amazing organizations including Twilio, GitHub, StackOverflow, and Radix to help you bring your community together IRL this fall.
Together, we’re investing more than $50,000 to support short hacker events like meetups, workshops, and hackdays. In addition to introducing new hackers to the MLH network, these events are valuable training for new organizers who are learning how to gather their communities in-person for the first time. We’ll provide logistical training, swag to give away and reimbursement for pizza (because we all know that hackers LOVE free food and swag!)
Initially this program will be launching in the US and Canada this Fall and we hope to roll it out worldwide within this year. In the meantime, stay tuned for more details on how to apply for Pizza Fund Funding next month!
While you’re waiting for your pizza, are you ready to collect the new MLH Season Tees?
Meet your 2023 Season Mascot!
Let me introduce you to Gene, the Glitchy Giraffe!
Gene will appear on stickers, shirts, and more. I can’t wait to get my hands on some of this awesome Gene swag and bet you can’t either! If you’re looking to earn a tee or stickers for yourself, all you have to do is join us at a hackathon digitally or in-person this season. We’ll initially be giving away tees to attendees at our in-person hackathons, but overall winners at digital hackathons will receive them too.
In 2014, we started an event called Local Hack Day as a way to bring together hackers from around the world to celebrate being a part of this community. We would work with university leaders around the world to organize hundreds of simultaneous 12-hour hackathons on their campuses. But since in-person gatherings weren’t feasible during the pandemic, we decided to experiment with the format. We brought the event online, extended its length to a full week, and started focusing on enabling hackers to get their hands dirty with lots of projects, not just one.
After seeing all the success of the new format, we realized that a name change might be in order. No matter how you slice it, Local Hack Day wasn’t really just one day anymore. Hackers from around the world were literally coming back every single day for a full week to complete new challenges with their friends. So we renamed the event to “Global Hack Week”. It has a nice ring to it and makes a lot more sense, huh?
Last year, we ran 4 different Global Hack Week events. Each of them brought out thousands of hackers and they loved the experience. We heard so many stories about the connections that hackers made with community members around the world, how much they learned from each other, and how much fun it was. They couldn’t wait to bring their friends along to the next event in 3 months. The community wanted more.
That’s why I’m excited to announce we’re expanding Global Hack Week from 4 to 6 events this year! Starting with INIT, our Season Kickoff, we’ll run a Global Hack Week just about every other month. We’re introducing new themes that will inspire our community to learn, build, and share. As a result, they’ll have opportunities to hang out with their guild mates throughout the year. We will be investing in even better challenges, speakers, and giveaways.
Registration for the events is already open. Join us at GHW September, October, and December. Head to ghw.mlh.io for more details!
This season will not only have more events for hackers, I’m excited to share our in-person weekend-long professional conference for community leaders is back.
The conference for hacker community leaders.
There are more than 5,000 organizers in the MLH network today. And that’s no surprise, because when we talk to hackers, nearly half of you are interested in getting involved in planning a hackathon too. Which is why I’m excited to share the return of the MLH Hackcon X.
The event is a weekend-long professional conference for community leaders. You’ll learn the best practices for organizing events like hackathons and leading your community.
It takes place at a summer camp in upstate New York. In addition to useful knowledge you’ll acquire, there’s plenty of down time for relaxing with more than 400 other organizers from around the world. If you’re thinking about starting a community, running a guild at a future Global Hack Week, or planning a hackathon – I could not recommend this event more strongly. You can learn more and register at hackcon.mlh.io
Investing in our MLH community for both hackers and organizers also means looking at the wider tech community. Inside the MLH community 59% of folks identify as underrepresented in tech. That’s an incredible stat. On average the MLH community is 2-3 times more diverse than a typical Computer Science classroom in the US. This community is literally changing the face of the wider tech community, making the industry more inclusive and diverse than ever.
As you may have heard, MLH announced a few months ago that we had officially acquired TechTogether.
MLH acquires TechTogether to Close Gender Gap.
Since day zero MLH has been committed to making our community a welcoming and inclusive space for all hackers of all backgrounds. By acquiring and scaling TechTogether’s programs, we’re doubling down on that commitment and furthering our investment in diversity initiatives.
TechTogether was founded to increase diversity in the hackathon community by hosting events aimed at serving hackers from underrepresented, marginalized genders.
TechTogether has a long history of being a part of the MLH community. The Executive Director of TechTogether, Fiona, also got her start as an MLH hacker and later became an organizer, giving back to the community by planning hackathons. As a result of Fiona’s leadership, TechTogether has grown from a single event to a series of hackathons and a community of more than 10,000 hackers, which has made a HUGE impact in representation of marginalized genders. We realized that she could do even more with an even closer relationship between MLH and TechTogether, and that her impressive achievements were just the beginning of what she would be able to accomplish.
We are committed to continuing to offer the same incredible TechTogether hackathons that many of you are familiar with and love. We are already planning TechTogether’s largest season ever, and registration is already open for TechTogether Boston.
I’m thrilled to share with you our commitment to help under-represented technologists build their skills and confidence with not just our hackathons but also our MLH Fellowship.
Learn software engineering through open source projects.
The MLH Fellowship is a 12-week remote internship alternative for aspiring technologists. Instead of interning for a single company, you can spend a semester contributing to a real-world Open Source project that many companies depend on. The program gives you a taste of what it’s like to work on a professional tech team, complete with daily standups, career mentorship, and fun networking events.
You’ll collaborate on projects that are sourced directly from our corporate partners. Whether you’re contributing to a major Open source technology or a new greenfield project, you’ll be solving a real-world need with technologies that employers care about, with the goal of getting hired at the end of the program.
Apply today to be considered for our upcoming start dates. The fall cohort is still accepting applications! In the meantime, we continue to work hard to bring more of these opportunities to our community and we can’t wait to read your applications.
Finally, I’m excited to share that MLH is now the largest community of early career tech talent in the world.
Today there are over 550,000 members in the MLH community and we’re growing quickly. Last year, 1 out of every 3 American Computer Science students who graduated in 2021 were MLH community members. Globally we served hackers in 93 different countries, making MLH the world’s largest community of early career tech talent worldwide.
We’re more than just the biggest though, we’re also making a HUGE impact. These numbers tell a story that cannot be ignored.
- 92% of hackers report that they are learning skills that could not be learned in a classroom thanks to the MLH community
- 87% percent of hackers say they will be able to get a job with those skills, or they already have.
- 41% of hackers say they would not be where they are today without MLH, and that it has changed their lives.
This is why MLH hackers are all so passionate about sharing this community with everyone they can.
No matter where you go, you’re likely to see another laptop with MLH stickers. We encourage you to keep an eye out for them and introduce yourself.
Let’s go league!
As you can see, the demand from the community is palpable. The 2023 MLH Hackathon Season will indeed be THE best yet. This year, the Student Hackathon League is growing by more than 50% to more than 300 hackathons. All of these events will take place between July 2022 and June 2023. In anticipation, our team has been working closely with the schools and organizers behind some of our community’s favorite events.
The MLH 2023 Hackathon Season schedule is officially live with more than 30 hackathons that you can register for today, including many in-person experiences! So what are you waiting for? Head over to mlh.io/events to view the calendar and register for an upcoming hackathon this fall.
See you at the next event.
MLH’s CEO & Co-Founder