Join us on December 1, for Major League Hacking’s (MLH) 5th annual Local Hack Day, a global hackathon and celebration of learning, building, and sharing. With more than 200 locations around the world, this is the perfect excuse for you to gather with your local tech community or join a new one.
Hackathons are learning-focused invention marathons where participants dream up fun, interesting projects and work in small teams to bring them to life during the event. Your project could be anything from a website to a mobile app to a robot…and beyond! When you’re not working on your project there are also plenty of other things to do attend educational workshops, make friends, or share what you’re learning.
You don’t need to be an expert to participate in Local Hack Day, either. All experience levels are welcome, regardless of whether you’re a first-timer who is learning to code or you attend hackathons regularly. All you need to do is find a location near you from the Local Hack Day website and register.
Everyone who attends a Local Hack Day gets access to the GitHub Education Pack, which has tons of free developer tools to help you build an awesome project (along with lots of GitHub swag). Some of the locations will even have a GitHub Campus Expert available to help mentor participants.
This is MLH’s 5th year organizing Local Hack Day, and GitHub is proud to be hosting the event for the 3rd year in a row. In 2017, the event brought out more than 6,000 participants across 34 countries and 236 cities around the world. This year’s event is shaping up to be the biggest one yet.
As a student trying to ship code without a community to help you, small setbacks can add up to a massive feeling of frustration, even isolation. Who can you brainstorm with? What about sharing the brilliant solution you devised, 10 pull requests later? As rewarding as contributing to open source can be, it’s also a challenge to go it alone.
GitHub Field Day, a day-long “unconference”, solves this problem by bringing together students from their local communities to connect and share experiences. This summer marked the first anniversary of GitHub Field Day, which has grown to meet the needs of communities around the world.
Intern (and now GitHubber) Wilhelm Klopp (Wil) created Field Day to share information across campuses and learn from mistakes, all while making friends. With an unconference, participants in each session can freely engage in discussions, collaborate, take a break, or decide to move to other sessions.
When you attend a local Field Day, the structure of the event invites you to participate as little (or as much!) as you’d like. Think of it like a “choose your own adventure” game—you control your experience, and you can suggest topics for technical discussions and activities that are timely and relevant to you. More importantly, you’ll have fun, feel welcome, and enjoy meeting other student leaders.
Every Field Day is different, and each one has something for us to take away to our local communities. Here’s a walkthrough to give you a sense of Field Days from each region, along with some helpful tips.
As a Campus Expert Wil noticed a trend that every Expert reported: when a student leader experienced a problem, who did they turn to? There wasn’t an outlet for them in their local communities. This was how the idea for Field Day started, and Wil set out to launch a beta event.
Inaugural Field Day
One of the key skills you learn as a Campus Expert is how to observe the needs of your community. The first Field Day showed that Wil was onto something—students want this kind of knowledge base, some form of face-to-face support for their shared struggle.
At the time, Field Day’s project name was “Umbrella”—an umbrella event for leaders of technical student communities. Ultimately the name evolved, but the project name still hangs on as part of the branding: the purple umbrella ☔.
The first Field Day unconference schedule included a Pizza programming contest, teaching CS to complete beginners, creating the membership identity, inclusivity of international students, and building an API for students at university
Los Angeles Field Day attendees
Campus Expert Catherine Chung at the University of Southern California has a habit of noticing “what’s missing” in her on-campus community. After joining the ACM chapter, and creating an all-female hackathon for schools in her region, AthenaHacks, she saw how schools in Los Angeles could band together, share resources and distribute the work in ways that would help everyone.
In the spirit of coming together for mutual benefit, Catherine connected USC with UCLA to house Field Day Los Angeles in a larger venue. Working side-by-side to plan the event, both schools shaped it to serve their communities.
For next time, Catherine plans to seed the event with content that students want.
Something that could help add more value to the event is polling the attendees (maybe during the application form) to see what topics or issues they’d like to talk about, or pairing people up into more relevant groups for lunch. For example, it would have been interesting to pair up the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) student leaders from all the schools in one lunch table so they could talk about collaboration or discuss things they’re working on.
With 33 attendees, Field Day Montreal (organized by Campus Expert and former Intern kim-codes) was small enough to focus on one track for the entire day.
Student leaders opened up about their common problems: recruiting new members, the onboarding process for their organization, keeping in touch with members, and learning how to work as a team. With this agenda in mind, the discussion bloomed to offer solutions (including a poutine day for recruitment).
One interesting challenge Field Day Montreal posed was around language: how do you run a conference for student leaders in multiple languages? Perhaps offer slides in English and French, or ask for translation services from student leaders who are multilingual.
Speakers at Field Day in Mexico
For Fernanda, organizing Field Day “changed my life”—she saw ways to improve efficiency, use new communication channels, and bring together 35-50 different communities who previously operated independently. The different clubs shared how to work with universities, sponsors, and the media.
They are currently discussing where to host the next Field Day, and Juan would like to nurture communities outside of Mexico City to grow the ecosystem.
Campus Expert Teresa Luz Miller held Field Day NYC at the offices of Major League Hacking (dubbed “MLHQ”) in Manhattan.
The NYC Field Day started with a kickoff icebreaker activity called “A Cold Wind Blows”, which is a sort of musical chairs game to help people get to know each other. The organizer structured the unconference by asking every attendee to make three post-it notes of what they needed help with—an idea she learned from Maintainerati, the unconference for open source maintainers—and then clustered related ideas together into a schedule. Each small breakout group appointed a facilitator to capture the conversation on the whiteboard, which aided in comprehension and collaboration.
GitHub Field Day has connected students from as far as London and the Midlands in the UK to Mexico City. We would love for you to join us at the next Field Day near you!
When it comes to building a great company and an incredible product, we know that diversity matters. As I’ve said in the past, “Diversity of experience, background, and identity not only makes us better colleagues, but amplifies our spirit of innovation and our commitment to building the world’s best software platform.”
But not everyone has a clear path to a job in tech. It can be particularly difficult for individuals with non-traditional work and educational backgrounds to find full-time roles. For every computer science graduate we hire, we know there are others who could also make a significant impact at GitHub: people whose work experience is primarily outside of tech and are looking to pivot into the industry; people who have taken time off for caregiving and are coming back into the workforce; and people who don’t have a traditional developer or engineering background (perhaps they are self-taught or participated in a coding program).
With this in mind, we’re proud to launch our new apprenticeship program, lovingly dubbed the ‘Octoprenticeship.’ We’re lowering the barrier to entry into tech to empower people with diverse backgrounds—people who should have a hand in building the future.
An Octoprenticeship is a six-month, paid career development program designed to support individuals with non-traditional work and educational backgrounds. While we already have a successful internship program for full-time college students, we wanted to create a program for folks who don’t qualify for traditional internships. The program provides real-world experience to talented individuals who are passionate about tech and are looking to enter the industry.
Octoprentices (apprentices) gain valuable exposure to the industry, and they get to build their professional network—all while being provided with paid, on-the-job training. But they aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program. Diversity fosters innovation, especially when there’s a greater variety of viewpoints. Many of the apprentices will bring fresh ideas and new perspectives, infusing them into our teams. Ultimately, this leaves a positive impact on how (and what) we ship at GitHub.
Apprentices are given the opportunity to:
We designed our Octoprenticeships to provide the most value possible for the apprentice—and the most value for GitHub as a company. To accomplish this, we made several choices that set our program apart:
We expanded our understanding of “diversity” to include groups who are frequently overlooked in traditional diversity and inclusion programs: caregivers returning to the workforce, individuals pivoting into the tech industry, and developers/engineers without four-year degrees. We also opened the applications to individuals living outside the Bay Area; since GitHub has a highly distributed workforce, Octoprentices can work from our headquarters in San Francisco or work remotely.
We opened up both technical and non-technical roles to reach a wider audience and to help create a path into tech for individuals working in sales or account management (in addition to engineering).
For the duration of the program, apprentices are embedded within GitHub teams and work alongside full-time GitHub employees. This allows apprentices to learn from other Hubbers, contribute to real-world projects, and understand what it’s really like to work in tech.
We want Octoprentices to feel like they’re a part of GitHub and that they truly belong here. To foster a sense of belonging, Octoprentices will begin the program with an in-person orientation and onboarding experience at GitHub HQ in San Francisco. Then they’ll continue to receive support from the Employee Experience and Engagement (EEE) team over the next six months. They’ll also take part in custom learning and development workshops, attend monthly Lunch ‘N Learns with other teams within GitHub, and engage with our many communities of belonging, including Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and affinity groups.
To make all this possible, we partnered with organizations that align with our values and our mission. We wanted to ensure that we were creating a meaningful experience for everyone taking part in the program—our apprentices, our partners and our broader GitHub teams and community. Our partnerships with Path Forward, Sabio, and TechHire enabled us to not only build an inaugural program we believe in but also hire an exceptional cohort of apprentices.
We’re committed to supporting the personal and professional growth of each apprentice, with a goal of converting all of our apprentices to full-time roles. To evaluate the success of the program, we will check in regularly with apprentices, mentors, and managers. We will use their feedback to improve the experience of the initial cohort and to iterate upon future Octoprenticeship programs at GitHub.
We were overwhelmed and impressed by the hundreds of applicants for our inaugural cohort. Clearly, there is a tremendous amount of talent that is ready and excited to jump in to these roles. We’re kicking off the program tomorrow and couldn’t be more proud of the five apprentices we’ve hired.
Whether you’re using public tests to give students live feedback when they push, or private tests to assess student projects, Travis CI proves pretty powerful for classroom work.
Travis CI Enterprise unlocks unlimited builds for schools that are running GitHub Enterprise on their servers. And, it’s available for free for schools, exclusively through the GitHub Education program.
By participating in GitHub Education, schools have access to:
Teachers tell us they love using GitHub Classroom for deeper insight into student work.
Classroom makes it easy for teachers to set up their courses on GitHub. The tool automatically creates student repositories, and allows you to track assignments right from your dashboard.
It’s helped teachers at Loyola Marymount, Cal Poly, Rice University, and Johns Hopkins use real-world workflows in their courses. In the words of one teacher: “GitHub Classroom takes the intimidation out of using GitHub for noobs.”
As of this week, students have submitted over three million coding assignments using Classroom.
But when you have dozens—or even hundreds—of students’ work to grade, you need a simple way to get every repository into one place. Manually cloning each repository eats up precious hours you could spend with students.
Now you can save time and get right to the code. Classroom Assistant allows you to easily download all the repositories in your course.
It’s a cross-platform desktop application, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Download 500 student assignments—or more—to your local machine with the click of a button.