My first Hackathon (DSM Datathon) – Part 2

(This post is ‘Part 2’ in my 2-part ‘My First Hackathon’ series: click here to read Part 1!)

If you’ve been following along, you might know that I’ve been participating in Data Science Melbourne’s annual Datathon.

When I left off in the last post, Team GirlvsData had just finished Hackday 2 in the DSM Datathon. A lot has happened since then! Our team finished our 3-minute insights video, submitted it and found out we got into the finals! Read on to see how Team GirlvsData went!

The Finals

Hackers Helping Melbourne Symposium at NAB Arena

Last week, I got up and presented our insights to a room full of Data Science professionals, students and mentors. It was nerve-racking and incredibly exciting. Two months of hard work brought us here!

Look that’s me up on the stage!

The structure of the day was jam-packed with inspiring and educational talks from Data Science professionals in the morning, and presentations from the Datathon finalists in the afternoon. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see my live tweets from the event.

We heard from a bunch of amazing speakers from the Data Science industry, I personally learnt a tonne just from attending the Symposium, I’d highly recommend attending as many events as possible during Melbourne Data Science week next year!

Presenting Team GirlvsData

Something I didn’t expect was exactly how nervous I would be to present onstage. In high school I used to perform in plays and productions, I even once memorised one of Banjo Patterson’s incredibly long poems and recited it in front of 1000+ students at my high school assembly. Through each of those performances, I don’t remember feeling very stressed or anxious about how things were going.

Phil Brierley: There will be only 260 people watching you Brooke. Easy *eye rolling emoji* – Brooke Clarke: Haha no problem!

So when Phil Brierley, the man behind Data Science Melbourne joked about the big crowd I would be presenting to at the symposium, I shook it off with a laugh. Man, was I wrong!

It turns out the difference between presenting someone else’s work and your own is stark. There’s a lot more pressure in presenting something me and my team worked so hard on for so long, I really wanted to do it justice! From the moment I got up behind the lectern and plugged my laptop in, to our final slide I was shaking from head to toe.

When we finished presenting, the amazing all-women judging panel (Great job DSM, what an awesome thing to see!) had a couple of questions from us, and I was so grateful that my teammates were by my side to help answer them!

The incredible all-women judging panel: Sally Grove (Australian Motoring Services), Kelly Ke (ANZ), Vicky Falconer (Amazon Web Services), Megan Vassarotti (Department of Premier & Cabinet Vic)

How did we go?

Team GirlvsData placed 4th in our category at the 2018 Data Science Melbourne Datathon!

Team GirlvsData – Maya Dere, Christine Sommerville, Brooke Clarke (me!)

There were some absolutely amazing entries into this year’s DSM Datathon, I was so surprised and grateful that we made it to the finals. There were four categories announced at the end of the Symposium:

  • Data2App – Students
  • Data2App – All-comers
  • Insights – Students
  • Insights – All-comers

Our team was competing in the “Insights – All-comers” category. The other finalist teams were full of amazing, talented individuals, we’ve certainly been inspired by their fantastic presentations.

What did I learn?

The Datathon is a great way to meet new people and build connections. My teammates and I worked incredibly hard together to make sure we had a submission to be proud of, and by the end of the long haul, we’ve become great friends.

We held all of our team meetings at universities, namely RMIT City, Monash Caulfield and Burwood. Because of this I also learnt some unexpected things; like did you know that a lot of local uni libraries (Monash is a good example) are open to all visitors? You don’t even have to be a student to study there! I also found out it is relatively easy to book a room to meet in, although for that you do usually have to have a native student.

Presenting – it’s tough presenting something that you worked really hard on, it’s important to make sure you’re really well-practiced before presentation day. Make sure you’ve presented in front of your teammates a couple of times to iron out the kinks as well!

The Datathon was a really rewarding experience, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get involved!

What’s next for me?

  • My public speaking days are far from over! I’ll be presenting ‘How to survive a Datathon’ at the next PyLadies meetup on October 15th.
  • Next weekend I’m going to be part of Girls in Tech’s ‘Hacking for Humanity’ Hackathon!

If you know of any interesting upcoming Tech events in Melbourne, or would like to inquire about having me speak at a conference or event, please contact me via email:

Check out our 3 minute insights submission video here:

My live tweeting of the Hackers Helping Melbourne Symposium:

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