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All you need to know about Hackathons

What is the secret of successful recruitments in PayPal? Hackathons!

PayPal is an American giant who is the international leader in payment services allowing sending and receiving payments online. See how it uses hack day to recruit the best employees.

The growing need for specialists in IT industry

According to James Baresse, Technical Director at PayPal, organizing hackfest is beneficial equally to the company and to the participants. The latter learn many important facts about how the company operates and gain knowledge about its products, while the company has a chance to find out what the best specialists are able to provide it with in their respective fields. Of course, the company uses other, more traditional methods of recruitment, like for example seeking employees among university students or inviting them to interviews, but this is highly insufficient taking into account the speed in which the demand for technical workers is increasing. And this is not only in this case, but in business in general – according to statistics between 2012 and 2022 in the USA alone there will appear 700 000 new positions for IT specialists.

Why is the demand for this kind of knowledge still increasing? Paweł Kwiatkowski from ChallengeRocket.com, one of the biggest platforms which unite programmers and companies organizing codefests in Poland, says that apart from constant development of the industry and introducing more and more innovative solutions which require knowledge of new technologies and programming, this is influenced by the fact that everything changes very fast in IT – what five years ago was a novelty, nowadays is replaced by even newer technologies, not known, for example, to older people. As a consequence, they have to constantly educate themselves or else their places are taken by employees with more up-to-date knowledge.

Companies and organizations also seek other skills than 10 or 15 years ago.

Chance to find competent employees

This is why codefests are such a great opportunity to find new talent. During hackathons participants work on the most recent problems and solutions all the time adjusting tools to the needs of the changing market.

An important task for a company who wishes to keep the best employees is to let them understand that the company invests in their development (and of course actually do it). It is necessary when taking into account high competition and companies’ will to have the best specialists in their employment. However, not everyone wishes to work full-time – that is why PayPal, apart from offering hackathon participants the traditional model of employment, also allows for contact contracts where the programmers, managers or analysts are treated more like advisors and thus have more freedom in their actions.

Demand for technical employees is high not only in the IT sector. Insurance or education industries also offer many positions for such specialists. Unfortunately, smaller companies are not able to compete with a player like PayPal on the grounds of earnings.

A won hackathon and what next?

Hackathon winners very often find employment in companies which organized them. This happened as well to Justin Woo who after winning one of PayPal’s hackathons was accepted to work there. In his case it was not about money, as he claims, but about his love of what he does and his belief that services which make online payments easier simply change the world for the better.

One of the biggest events during which PayPal recruited their employees was the Money 20/20 hackathon organized last year in Las Vegas. Its main point of interest were payments and finance services. 10 000 people from 75 countries took part in this event. The event has taken place regularly since 2012, it lasts 4 days and, apart from being a hackathon, it is also an important date in the calendar of anyone who is interested in gaining partners for developing their ideas or getting funding for an enterprise.

The multitude of topics which have been dealt with during all editions so far is impressive – what has been worked on were solutions for mobile services, trade, marketing services (nearly half of the topics were related to payments and finance). What is more, investments, analysis, media, public services, consulting were also dealt with. Over half of the companies involved in Money20/20 are big and medium companies, the rest are smaller companies and startups.

What are the main goals and aims of this huge enterprise (whose next edition is scheduled for October 2016)?

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Developing partnerships
  • Introducing new products
  • Establishing new companies
  • Informing about innovations
  • Seeking funding sources
  • Expanding knowledge about newest achievements


If you are interested in new technologies in financial industry, you have to follow the next edition of this event on: http://www.money2020.com/.


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