Today I went to the Microsoft Coding Competition and it was an incredible experience. I teamed up with one other friend and prior to the competition, I started playing around with HackerRank, and when I felt defeated by not being able to parse inputs properly, I completely gave up.
Little did I know, I voluntarily walked into a competition which needed us to parse a ton of inputs right off the bat. I'm not going to lie, I was so frustrated because of it at first. However, as time went on, I started getting the hang of it. Without revealing too much about the competition for those who have yet to attend it, let me just tell you- it's rough but it's worth it. Here's why:
I was able to learn a lot through coding with such a time crunch. It wasn't like a regular hackathon where you get a longer period of time to complete the project, allowing room for error. You actually weren't creating a project at all because solving mandatory questions takes away the aspect where you could avoid doing something you did not want to do, or did not know how to do. You also really realize why data structure & algorithm matters because half way through your 8th for-loop and after trying to switch data from an ArrayList to a HashSet and back to an ArrayList just to remove duplicates in a list, you realize that maybe you are being just a tiny bit too desperate to form any answer you possibly could. I also think that the best part of competitions like this is their ability to spark a lot of problem solving ideas. For example, we were asked to order characters by numbers, capital letters, and then lower case letters. While thinking of the best way to approach it, we suddenly thought of converting the characters to ASCII because that would automatically sort our list in that order. It was definitely an idea that we would not have been able to come up with so quickly if it were not for the time limit.
It was overall a great learning experience and I would definitely go to more events like it. Also, because of this competition, I promise to take on the 30 Days of Code Challenge on HackerRank, to make up for my terrible attitude regarding parsing inputs! I'll check back in with you guys once I complete it!
Thanks for the awesome event, Microsoft! :)