What's going on right now?
Joining XdHacks Mini in 2020, the landscape was different than today. XdHacks Mini was the only high-school hackathon organization in British Columbia (where I’m from), Zoom was still relatively new, and people were still comfortable with online events and online hackathons. I remember joining XdHacks Mini COVID-19 and being amazed at the breadth and quality of the workshops and speakers. That drew me into XdHacks Mini and sparked a passion for event organizing.
Being promoted to Executive Director was probably my greatest accomplishment in my young career after SecureHacks – and one for which I took full responsibility. Being the Executive Director wasn’t an easy transition. Instead of thinking of just speakers and a few sponsors, I was now in charge of thinking about the entire event planning process and the people involved. From April 2021 to August 2021, planning for Climate Code 2021 was a full-time job – perhaps even more. I spent my mornings sending and responding to emails, and my afternoons running team meetings and working on various projects. I realized that it was a lonely world – a world where you often find yourself asking if what you’re doing is enough (there was always more to be done). But I persevered, and our team persevered – we brought the biggest high school hackathon in BC ever. It might’ve been the biggest high school led event in Canada in 2021. Every single event and every single meeting hammering out details at 2 am was worth it.
While being Executive Director of Vancouver in 2021, I had already decided to graduate a year early from high school. This forced a difficult decision of picking and choosing an Executive Director for Vancouver to succeed me. In all honesty, I think I wasn’t prepared for it. More thought and effort should’ve been done by me to train someone capable of the task. What I found was that the level of time required is almost impossible to accomplish for a regular high school student. Add on AP/IB, schoolwork, homework, and other extracurriculars, then finding someone with the time required to pull off an event like the one I did in 2021 (not even a better one) was a pipe dream.
The problem was now finding capable people who could run our events. Capable high schoolers especially. In my position as the Chief Round Coordinator, my main focus was to train Executive Directors. It wasn’t easy. Firstly, how do you inspire people to dedicate their free time to an organization that’s online. How do you train people to think critically and actually get work done. How do you teach people how to run a hackathon? The resources you provide only go so far – it comes down to passion and leadership.
I scheduled 1 weekly meeting for 9pm on Wednesdays and made sure that everyone could attend. In the first meeting, I told them the plan – I’d start with check-ins, then progress reports, then we’d dive into a skill. For some meetings, the skill would be leadership, some meetings marketing, some meetings teamwork. Each week there was some sort of group activity that would inspire these members to think about the event planning process. Then, in the last half hour, I would leave the meeting and let the team collect their thoughts, talk, and plan their tasks.
From this first iteration, we expanded. Right now, those who were on the first team are leading our new group of Hack Team 6 members towards events scheduled in late November/early December later this year. Hopefully after this, we can get back to running more hackathons and building a culture that inspires talent to join the organization.
Chief Round Coordinator,
Former Executive Director of XdHacks Mini Vancouver
XdHacks Mini Core Team