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How I Got My Job By Attending Hack Upstate

Note: The following blog post was written by Tom Hart, Web application Developer at Syracuse-based Terakeet.

As I traveled to the Syracuse Tech Garden on a Saturday in October, I had two goals in mind. The first was to complete a 24-hour programming marathon known as Hack Upstate, and the second was to find a full-time position with a Syracuse-based web company. I completed my first goal over the next 24 hours. The second goal was a longer journey.

Hack Upstate was an amazing experience for me. Not only was I able to complete my 24-hour personal challenge, I was also fortunate enough to make a number of personal and professional connections.

I ended up running a one-person team and developing a self=motivation web service called Not Just Improving Me. Despite a terrible name I was able to pique the interest of a few people, one of whom was Gordon Zheng, a developer evangelist for Dwolla. He decided to award my project, as well as another project, with the Dwolla prize, a Raspberry Pi starter kit for each member.

I wrote a lot of code that night, but I also spent a lot of time talking to and collaborating with other teams and attendees, including the organizers of Hack Upstate, Doug Crescenzi and Mitchell Patterson. They had mentioned in their opening remarks that anybody looking for a potential employer should talk to them, and I was eager to take them up on the offer.

Doug put me in touch with Patrick Danial, CTO of Terakeet. The company was potentially looking to take on a new web application developer and he had come to Hack Upstate looking for someone who might fit their needs. After an initial interview, Terakeet decided to offer me a project on a contract basis to assess my skills. The position they were looking to create was intended to bring these types of projects in-house, so it was an accurate view of what I could be working on in the future.

The project went very well, and we were both pleased with the outcome. Strongly defined requirements and frequent communication were keys to our success, and that process reinforced my belief that I wanted to work at Terakeet full-time. It had been a few months since we first met, but my interest in the company kept growing.

It wasn’t too much longer before I heard from Patrick again. He had heard about the success of the project and wanted to bring me on as a full-time employee. I was happy to accept his offer, and as I write this, I’ve just finished my first week. As I expected, this role is exactly what I was looking for. As an added bonus, I even got to keep working on the same project from the contract, Credit Card Insider. It had been a pleasure to work with John and Eric for that, and I look forward to continuing to do so in the future.

I can’t wait for Hack Upstate Spring 2014. I’ll be going again, with different goals this time, but I have no doubt it will be another amazing experience. I plan to bring some of my new co-workers with me. I hope to see you all there as well.

A big thank-you to Hack Upstate for all the help, and to Terakeet for giving me the opportunity.

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