Timeless Thoughts: Skills Lab

Timeless Thoughts is a monthly linkup hosted by Georgie and Tara, where bloggers write about something from their past – it could be an item, a place, an event – anything that evokes a trip down memory lane. Timeless Thoughts is held on the first Saturday of the month, and runs for two weeks.

A couple of years ago I was working for a different company. We had a company hackathon, and I think it was the only hackathon I put a lot of effort into… during a hackathon you are generally allowed to build whatever you want (to a theme) but a lot of people used the day as an excuse to bum around.

I was in a team with two designers, a marketer, and, well, Nicholas. 😅

At that point in time, nobody – not even ourselves – knew that we liked each other. Like, liked each other.

All I remember is that Nick and I had a lot of chats over breakfast and I didn’t have a hackathon team at first, but we had the idea of redoing the “exams” section of the website. The exams section was a section where you could take exams to show badges on your profile to represent certain skills. It was just gamification, like a lot of apps use. In all honesty, the exam questions were pretty shit, but the overall user experience was just horrible.

As a team we figured out a way to clean up the design and make the exams more appealing. One of our designers came up with the name “Skills Lab”. It was perfect, and it sounded hip.

We had a really nice graphic to go on the main page, which I remember adoring the hell out of. It was just an illustration of a brain, but it was a very colourful one, and it just fitted Skills Lab so well.

On the night of the hackathon, Lilian had a celebratory dinner because she officially became a lawyer. 👩🏻‍💼 I was very proud and there was no way I was going to miss her dinner, so I ducked out of the hackathon for a couple of hours.

I remember staying up until 1:00am in the office, battling with some legacy CSS and along with Nick, trying to get the new main page to work. In hindsight, setting up the page was easy, but it was getting everything to work that was difficult. I wanted it to be just perfect. I think we got a little help from someone else to write the JavaScript for some of the animations and interactions. I just remember feeling so dead at about 2:30 or 3:00am, Nick and I had had some vodka slushies and ended up sleeping on a large beanbag.

I actually can’t remember who did the presentation. I think it was Nick. I was so excited because I was thinking, here we are overhauling an important but forgotten part of the product. It was going to make a huge difference and I think other people in the company were going to love it.

When it was time to vote, I’m not going to lie, we voted for ourselves. But then again, I’m pretty sure everyone votes for themselves in things, to up their chances. Unless, of course, you’re not allowed.

I can’t remember if I shared it on my blog, but – we won! 💰 We tied with another team though, which was kind of annoying, because of course we thought we did better than them. It wasn’t really fair that the grand prize had to be shared, they should have done something to prevent two teams from receiving the same score. But yes, we got extra money on the next pay day.

Skills Lab doesn’t currently exist in the same state it was when we deployed it, and for various reasons I don’t want to link to it either. But when I look back, it was such a wonderful achievement.

💖 The story in my post I recall the exact moment I fell in love. occurred around the time of this hackthon.

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Comments on this post

Thanks for sharing this story! I’ve always wanted to do a hackathon but every time I duck out because of the late nights :X but I can just picture you and Nick “being friends” during this story, hehe. I still think it’s pretty awesome you guys met at work! Congrats on the win too because extra pay is an amazing prize!

Also that photo is so creative! Someone mocked up a 3D photoshop model?!?! :O

It’s just a stock photo, I often put stock photos in my posts if I don’t have a photo that I’ve taken myself that is relevant. 😆

I’ve never had the opportunity to take part in a hackathon but I think it’s something I would like to give a go. Maybe I should suggest it when we next have the company survey. 🤔

I think it’s cute that you did this with Nick. Vodka slushies and sleeping on beanbags sounds pretty sweet to me.

There should have been a tie-break task or something! There’s nothing more annoying that being a joint winner. Like, I want it all!

I had to look up what a hackathon is because I wasn’t understanding it very well here, haha! Now that I have a better understanding, this recollection makes a lot more sense in my head than before. Thank you for sharing this event. I think it’s great you decided to partake in it! It’s neat that you and Nick and the rest of your team worked together to figure out a better way to design Skills Lab.

That was nice of you to escape the hackathon for a bit to attend the celebratory dinner with your best friend :D I would have done the same.

You guys did stay up pretty late! I can see why the vodka slushy would knock you out. But in the end, your team came out tied for the first place spot! That’s great! Congratulations on that!

Thank you for sharing this memory ^^

haha, I love that you and Nicholas did a hackathon together before you knew that you liked each other! Your team’s project sounds like a good idea and one that would really help the product. I always feel dirty voting for myself, but unless they say I can’t, I’m going to do it! After all, you vote for who you think should win, and if you truly think it’s yourself, then that’s the way you should vote :) That sounds like it was a fun but tiring experience. Good job on winning!

Our work has an annual hackathon, and it’s amazing to see what everyone is able to crank out in only a week. I’ve participated in it 6 times now, and I’m thinking of sitting out for this year’s (which is coming up later this month). I’m all out of ideas now!

i’ve heard of people mentioning hackathon but honestly, i never heard anyone here use that word so i’m quite blind as to what goes on during hackathon. regardless, this post made me smile since it’s basically reading the start of a blossoming relationship between you and nick, lol. i mean of course, you didn’t know back then but now that you’re officially together “together” with him, this post gives me this fuzzy wuzzy feelings on the inside. it also reminds me of how my bf and i got close; if you and nick got close thanks to work, i grew closer to mine during assignments. it’s kind of interesting to know how something we deemed nothing extraordinary back then has led to something different and quite life changing now.

idk if i’m making sense, lol

Hahaha well I guess what I understand you to mean is that a work event might usually be insignificant and small, but when someone you love is involved… it’s important and more significant!

That is a cute memory! Especially about not knowing about liking Nick! Awesome you guys won, sorry you had to share the winnings but still amazing you guys won!!

Thanks for sharing this memory – loved it!

My heart literally melted at this blog post because of the fact that during the time you guys had no idea you liked each other. I find that so freaking cute. It’s weird where we drift towards in our lives <3

I haven't gone to a Hackathon yet but I am attending my first one in April. I met a lovely guy, Matt, who runs the hackathon society in Sheffield in November last year who has really helped get me understand what hackathons are and the point of them! I can't wait and will certainly write a post about it :D

Matt has told me some stories about hackathons and staying up 24 hours to complete his hacks and projects – personally, being a grandma low key I don't think I could do the same xD But we'll have to see how much I get into it :P

WOOOOOO – well done on winning! Even though you tied, it's still pretty awesome :) Well done!

I’ve never taken part in a hackathon, but that’s not at all surprising as I can’t code for sh*t, BUT it sounds like so much fun! I love that you and Nick were on the same team before even becoming a couple. So cute ~ you were meant to be <3

Vodka slushies sound amazing! What flavour were they?

Thanks for sharing this memory :D

I think they were raspberry flavoured! 😊

Haha if you ever want to get into coding, I think Pauline and I would be right at your assistance. 😂👊 And it’s never too late to learn!

It’s cute to read about your time with Nick before you both got together :). It’s always fine when you have to leave an event like a hackathon for a bit. You’re going to be there for a long time and also have a life to tend to. Even though the prize had to be shared, at least it’s better than nothing! (at the same time, more money would always be nice!) There’s nothing like creating goodies with alcohol, aha. I would think self-voting is a good thing because you feel confident about your output.

Aww did you and Nick meet then, or before, but that was when you guys worked together?

I’ve always wanted to do a hackathon, but when they come around I chicken out because I just don’t know how it’ll be in such a quick schedule, and nothing has really given me that final push to just do it. I’m always impressed by the stuff people put together.

We met when I joined the same company as him. We were really good friends before working together on this project! 😆

I have only ever participated in internal company hackathons. I am too scared to participate in ones with strangers!

OK. I’m comfortably in my early 30s, and I’ve never heard of vodka slushies. What’s next? Tequila lemonade? :p

Hahaha they are flavoured, I am sure you must have had something similar!

This is such a lovely story! The hackathon sounds great, and you definitely deserved to win with all the effort you put in. As if you were up until 1am!

I hear so much about hackathons, that it makes me wish I was more of a coder. I’ve started learning the basics again recently, and I’m hoping to actually stick to it and get somewhere this time!

I loved reading about you and Nick. It’s so sweet!