Mentors! You have enlisted your brains to help the greater good during Opportunity Hack. We need you to share your ideas, be a sounding board, and help unblock hackers that have been staring at the screen for hours.

We will favor pairing you up with a team or two as a durable companion that the team can count on when they need it, but it's also totally cool to be a rover and pop in and out to any team. We will balance mentor skillsets so that a team has a variety of different people helping them out.

In general, what requirements are there for hackathon mentors?

Being a mentor in a software engineering hackathon typically requires a combination of technical expertise and experience in the field, as well as strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Mentors should be able to provide guidance and support to participants on a wide range of technical and strategic issues, and should be patient, empathetic, and able to explain complex concepts in a way that is easy for participants to understand. In addition, mentors should be willing to be a resource for participants throughout the hackathon, and should be able to adapt to the needs of their mentees as the event progresses.

Overall, being a mentor requires a commitment to helping others learn and grow, and a willingness to share your own knowledge and experience.

What is the role of a mentor?

In a software engineering hackathon, the role of a mentor is to provide guidance and support to participants as they work on their projects.

Mentors can help participants with technical challenges, offer advice on project management and strategy, and provide a sounding board for ideas.

The most important thing about mentors in a software engineering hackathon is that they have a wealth of experience and knowledge that they can share with participants to help them develop their skills and successfully complete their projects.

What is expected of a mentor?

With in-person hackathons, mentors would typically visit various teams in-person. With a virtual and global hackathon, teams are working at different hours of the day, and over Slack.

Mentor Checklist

Before we get started

  • Edit your Slack profile to indicate your role as a mentor

  • Review and operate based on the Judging Criteria

Daily Checklist

  • Check-in to #mentor-hangout when you are ready for mentoring. We may ask that you follow-up with a team, or you may see that a team has already asked for help. When you are leaving for that time, be sure to also say you are leaving so we don't call on you for help

  • Review the main hackathon page for a list of teams, their DevPost pages, and their GitHub repositories

  • “Walk" into any Slack channel for a team. Introduce yourself and catch up on the chat history.

  • Read through the team's DevPost submission (here's an example , and another, and another of good ones from previous hackthons)

  • Provide guidance based on your Mentor Focus Area

  • For Software Engineering Mentors, review the team's GitHub code, potentially fork it and clone it to your own laptop to check it out to make troubleshooting easier. Here are some good examples of GitHub repos: Team3, Team6, Team7

On Demo Day, Wednesday November 18th, provide feedback in the slack channel on the demo video that should be posted from the teams.

Tip: Leverage the full power of Slack by starting a Slack call or a Huddle, where you can also screen share, in the respective channel to encourage more real-time collaboration.

Time Commitment

Working from home during this pandemic has blurred the line between working and having your life. We hope that Opportunity Hack gives you a break from your daily grind as you help people create solutions for non-profits.

When you signed up to be a mentor, you indicated which blocks of time you'd likely be available. The ideal goal is that you check with your family and manager at work to block off this time for the week and weekend, where even one hour of mentoring can go a long way.

Mentor Focus Areas

General Mentor - help teams figure out what direction they should take. Review the judging criteria, ask what demographic they are targeting, look for uniqueness in their ideas, assess scope problems (usually the scope is too large). Use any part of your background to help steer the team in the right direction. Pretend you are a user - ask questions to ensure hackers have considered their target demographic.

Product Mentor - customer requirements are a big deal, but you already know this. We need your help to represent the customer (nonprofits) and help with design thinking and scoping of the project for the hackathon teams. When the hackathon begins, they will have a rough outline of the problem they need to solve, but you can use your product hat to bridge the gap between the nonprofit and user experience, business, vision, prioritization and so on. Your focus can be on a single team, or multiple teams.

Project Manager (PgM) Mentor - you were born to organize and streamline process. You'll help teams stay on track, define deliverables and outcomes, and work to remove any roadblocks. Your focus can be on a single team, or multiple teams.

Presentation Mentor - Help teams with their pitches and presentations. You'll rove around from team Slack channel to another to have teams practice their pitches. Does the solution the team is pitching make sense to you? Are they succinct and using their time for the presentation in the best way possible?

GitHub Mentor - help teams understand how to commit their code, and solve the ever-popular merge conflicts, to our GitHub repo which is a requirement for all teams. They will also need to submit their projects on DevPost, you may need to tangentially help with that.

Heroku/AWS/Google Cloud Mentor - a great idea sitting on a laptop can't go very far. Help teams get their ideas productionalized in the cloud!

Software Engineering Mentors - in the early days of Opportunity Hack, you should be asking for project pitches. Listen to what the hackers are thinking and help them figure out what the right technology they should be using. Make sure they aren't trying to boil the ocean. In the later days, you'll be helping tired hackers troubleshoot NullPointers, recursion logic, UI display issues, and runtime exceptions.

Hackathon Timeline of Mentoring

In the beginning: Help to ensure teams are solving the right problem, remind and review judging criteria with them. It is completely okay to have multiple mentors visit teams during the first four hours! The DevPost submission should be started, with some rough ideas outlined.

About 50% complete: This will be a mixture of debugging, troubleshooting, scope/marketing/technology recommendations. Make sure teams are solving specific problems and talk through judging criteria. Their DevPost submission should have more content that discusses their proposed solution.

About 75% complete: Teams should be comfortable with what they are creating, they should have a clear goal and should already be writing code. You will help them make judgement calls on functionality in an effort to get them to complete something. If they are stuck, help them get unstuck.

About 80% complete: Hackers are tired, their eyes are red, their energy level may be low, BUT they are still driven to create something awe-inspiring. Help them with their demos and pitches. Put yourself in the shoes of the non-profits - what should they focus on to come across the finish line? Ensure their DevPost submission has almost all of the content from their project.