Anybody on TopCoder?



  • I was wondering if anybody here has competed in any TopCoder competitions. (I'm referring mainly to the design and development competitions, but also the algorithm competitions.) The prizes are pretty decent. For the hours you put in the pay rate isn't great, but for young people like myself looking to make extra money, do you think it's worth doing?

     I'm thinking about learning .NET since most of the competitions are in that framework. Worth it?

    They do require a lot of tools to get started, though. It's kinda daunting.



  • I've done a development competition there.  I wouldn't suggest you try and make it a full time job until you get used to their format and have experience doing them.  However, I know some people that make it their full time job and make a a pretty good living.  With the design and dev competitions if you have a good week you could make 3-4 thousand.  However, you could also put in 50 hours of work and not win anything.   As far as is it worth it.  Most definitially.  If for nothing more than learning the various tools and technologies and working with modularized code.  It's also a pretty good conversation starter at an interview.  They also have some pretty good connections with various employers.



  • Is it difficult to win? I'm a third year software engineer (I'm getting around a B+/A- average) and I'm looking for something productive to do with my spare time. I spend a lot of my spare time programming anyway, maybe I could make some money from it.



  • @freakboy2k said:

    Is it difficult to win? I'm a third year software engineer (I'm getting around a B+/A- average) and I'm looking for something productive to do with my spare time. I spend a lot of my spare time programming anyway, maybe I could make some money from it.

    I'd say that topcoder is the software version of flipping burgers - don't bother unless you really need the money. As jobs go, it's not a very good one.

    Since you're a student, there's a far better way for you to spend your spare time. Ask around for postgrad and faculty researchers who need people to work for them. There's always loads of scut work to be done there ("my research project is too slow. make it faster"), you'll learn far more than you would in most jobs, and it's good CV fodder. Start with the lecturers that you like - they can probably point you to some decent people if they don't have stuff themselves. The pay's not great but it's probably more than you'll get from topcoder (ie, more than nothing) - and you're more likely to actually learn something useful. Plus it's probably the most productive work you'll ever do (competitions are just a form of mental masturbation, and corporations are grossly inefficient compared to most academic research projects).



  • hireacoder.com (or whatever) is more like flipping burgers. topcoder is more of a fun community thing to do with your free time. If your looking to get experience and something to put on your resume out of college, get an internship with a company. I wouldn't suggest working for the school (including a professor's research project) unless you only have 10-20 hours of spare time a week. In that case it's great since you don't have the time for a more serious job, but a company will pay you much better than the school. (My internship pays 150% better than my school, and lets me work as many hours as I want.)


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