Every night my sleep is spoiled by my room-mate working late nights before the comp keying in at terrific speeds, sighing and grumping. Later I came to know that he is a hardcore-coder, working on his way to the top of the TopCoder’s list. So, the next question arises, ‘What is this TopCoder thing?’
For the amateurs’ sake, there are a number of online programming contests administered by several firms. If you have had the chance to watch the movie ‘Social Network’, the next thing that would have popped up in your mind is the ‘Hackathon’ shown in the feature. Well, this is not anything of the sort ‘Hackathon’ cos Hackathon is conducted by IT firms among their programmers not for the public. If you take Hackathon and change the entry requirement part to ‘any geek’ then you get online programming contests!
There are a lot of these dynamic contests hosted around by many IT firms including Google(code jam), Microsoft (Code4Bill), Sun(Java 4K), Facebook(Hacker Cup) and by firms that are dedicated to host online programming contests such as TopCoder, CodeChef and HTML5. The main focus of these contests is to bring the best coders out there to limelight.
Winning in any of these contests (hosted in a different span) puts you on the spotlight and there is a great chance of hearing a knock on your door by leading IT firms offering you a high profile job. So that’s what the fuzz about these contests is rather than the prize money offered on winning such a thing.
The top 20 coders who top the rest in the Code4Bill contest earn an internship Microsoft Research Center and later offered a job at Microsoft India upon completion of the internship. Moreover, a top lucky winner of the contest will get to work with Bill Gates Technical Assistants team and that’s called glamour. Facebook too, has something similar called ‘Puzzle Master’ where puzzles are posted in regular intervals and solving of which can get you hired by Facebook directly!!
Though there is a connotation that firms in the big league get their work done for much cheaper money through the coders who compete in these contests, the number of aspirants who participate in these contests have never gone down and stays increasing. More than the money involved, the fame and later the future chance of getting a high profile job matters to the coders in most cases.
Besides these contests hosted by firms there are several other coding contests hosted by premiere institutes and universities alike that bring you the fame and put on the wanted-list of recruiters. If you are game, then there are a thousand ways to get in the big league of firms.