Posted in Random

Mentoring @ Hackathon

Recently I had this opportunity to be a mentor at a hackathon. It was a Health & Fitness hackathon which took place on 14-16 October, 2017. The hackathon was organised by Geek Girls Carrots Berlin and my employer Zalando was one of the sponsors.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I was contacted by the employer branding team within Zalando to participate as a mentor and I had an amazing weekend. Although I wanted to participate as a participant at this hackathon, the idea of being a mentor was overwhelming and I jumped in to volunteer.

My colleague Andra accompanied me on Day 1, Day 2 and Iuliia accompanied me on Day 3.

Day 1: 14.10.2016

It was Friday evening but I was gladdened to watch out the participant turn-out. It was a decent number of audience. The evening was meant to meet & greet mentors and participants. After a formal welcome, mentors introduced themselves and participants were asked to brainstorm on their Health & Fitness related hacks for the weekend and build teams.

I met couple of women who were very enthusiastic about their participation. Me and Andra tried to give them insights about being able to use the Zalando Shop API for this hackathon.

The evening was accompanied with good, healthy food and we were hosted at the Native Instruments, Berlin office.

Day 2: 15.10.2016

It was a pleasant Saturday morning and the previous evening made sure I had my motivation level turned on to show up at the venue on time.


I was excited to talk about the Zalando Shop API. Since it was a health & fitness hackathon, Zalando’s fashion reputation was less enticing amongst the participants. Our pitch was to lure the audience by asking them to come up with ideas which involved a little bit of shopping. After all, you need new clothes, accessories etc. for a healthy start at the gym 😉

We offered them 20% discount code for shopping at Zalando. Here is the voucher code for all the readers – ZRNN48454E. Happy shopping!

The API briefing session was followed by a VR workshop using the Unity Framework and the hands-on-hacking session followed thereafter.

One of the teams reached out to me and Andra asking for some help in getting started with React.

We were hosted at the Axel Springer, Berlin office. The food served was delicious. The rest of the day was intense hacking session and the participants were engrossed in their hacks. True to the hackathon’s theme, there was a Zumba workout session in the evening 🙂


Day 3: 16-10-2016

Mentor participation was required only during the second-half of this day for the jury discussions and voting. I decided to quickly run my weekend errands at home. Meanwhile I was helping one of the teams remotely with their React doubts.

Around 2:00 pm, it was jury time. I and Iuliia were quite excited about this. Being one of the jury member was one of my best experiences.

There were 7 teams all set to present their hacks. The source-code of all the teams can be found here.

I was amazed at the energy level of all the participants. There was no drop in their energy, inspite it being a Sunday. The presentations were excellent. I enjoyed listening to every detail. Me and Iuliia were silently making our notes and voting them based on code, idea and potential behind the hack.

After the presentations, all the jury assembled in one room. We were voting and it was interesting how the votes differed based on different evaluation criteria.

First criteria – potential and uniqueness of the hack.

Second criteria – presentations and team-spirit.

Third criteria – Implementation (working prototype)

It was surprising that looking into the source-code was the last criteria and the team ratings varied when this happened.

We had the winners listed at the end and this whole experience was elating.


Last but not the least, it was a weekend well spent 🙂 Mentors and participants had this as a take-away gift!


Here is the short-video featuring the hackathon

Posted in Random


I am bad at naming things. I can’t think of a better title for this post! At Zalando, most of the names begin with a ‘Z’. Hence the title 😛

Copying these lines from my previous post:

Meanwhile, I had applied for Zalando in October 2015. After visiting Berlin for the first time in September 2015 (diversity scholarship recipient for JSConfEU), I had made up my mind to take up a job in Berlin (I badly wanted to be in this city, I wanted a job here, Berlin is so beautiful. It seemed just perfect to be living here). The week before flying to Singapore, I had completed all my technical interviews for Zalando through Skype. The results were expected when I was in Singapore. My joy knew no bounds when I received the much awaited positive response from Zalando. The whole process was so well organized, from the interviews to the relocation assitance, everybody involved did a commendable job. Presently, I am “onboarded” at Zalando, and I am loving every single day. #ILikeMyNewJob

So let me start about Zalando & me, from Day#1.

Here is the newsletter which I received from Women Who Code on 15.10.2015. Zalando’s advertisement in the ’employment opportunities’ section caught my attention.

Join Zalando — Europe’s largest online fashion platform — as a Backend Engineer. Code Java, Python, or Scala in Berlin, Dublin, or Helsinki!

Upon browsing through the various job openings at Zalando, I found it suitable to apply for this position. The ‘What you can expect from us’ section was of special interest to me and I found this to be a really cool job ad :). Relocation assistance, personal branding, hack weeks, tech talks etc, this job ad, according to me, was a match made in heaven and I was few steps away grabbing my dream job.

Most importantly, Zalando’s work culture was ideal. The concept of radical agility (purpose, autonomous and mastery) was the driving factor while submitting my job application.

I had my first interview with Diana Caamano Serna (Tech Recruiter Specialist) followed by a tech screening interview, after a couple days and lastly, a detailed 3 hour technical interview (with a break of 5-7 minutes in between). Diana was always there to answer all my queries. Also, thanks to Isabelle Mettler and team (Town house management) for always being kind to offer help and respond to my mails well on time. The interviews and the relocation assistance were well-organised.

Currently, I am being “onboarded” (a 4-week mentoring program to all the newbies at Zalando). Every day has been exciting, the onboarding crew is at its best. All the newbies work on a project (each one gets to pick an interesting project) and at the end of 4 weeks, share our learnings with the others. The goal is to have learnt something new and interesting in these 4 weeks and to have fun and enjoy Zalando’s work culture – “Purpose, Autonomy and Mastery“. The project which I will be working on has a noble cause. I would be starting with React.js. As of today, I am done setting my new Mac (yes, employees get to choose their work stations here) with all the installations required for this new project and done running a ‘Hello World React’.

My interests are “Perceptual Computing”, “D3.js”, “Teaching/ Speaking at conferences / Conducting workshops”, “IOT” and “JAVASCRIPT”! What’s exciting to me is that I have already found out to be doing all these things at my new work-place. How cool is that?!

I will be speaking on “Natural user interfaces using JavaScript” at JSConfBP, Budapest 2016. The “Employer Branding” team at Zalando is dedicated to encourage and offer support for such work. I spoke to the “Tech Innovation Lab” team today and enquired about getting to work with some of the hardware devices. The reply was affirmative plus they asked me for my interests in conducting workshops and I said a ‘YES’. I am looking forward for some great knowledge sharing through the internal “Tech Academy”. More work on this might happen shortly in the coming days.

One of my main goals for this year is to build my open-source reputation. Zalando has a bunch of open-source projects, and I am looking forward to be an active contributor.

Starting next week, I am selected to be a mentor for Learn IT Girl. I would help a girl learn a programming language and do an awesome project, during my free time, for the next 12 weeks. This would be a great start towards achieving my above goal.

Learning German, is my next goal. Looking forward to the classes starting next month at Zalando.

To be an active blogger is also this year’s goal. I hope I am able to contribute to the tech community by documenting my new learnings at Zalando.

I have a great track record when it comes to multi tasking, so please don’t sit and wonder if I can manage these many things.

With all the goals in place, I am looking forward to exchange knowledge, have a great learning and a fun work place. My new colleagues come from various parts of the world, hoping to eat some tasty tasty international cuisine too ;). I am a total foodie.

It’s 12:36 am, as I am ending this post. Let me sleep before I show myself in the office in few hours.