Ever left an interview with homework? You know, a take-home assignment designed to show your interviewers that you’ve got the tech skills required to do the job?

It’s an increasingly common substitute for whiteboard interviews, because it reflects the reality of work: you have access to Stack, Google, your own dev environment, and there isn’t someone looking over your shoulder.

Assignments can cover anything, but here are the most common ones:

Basic design exercise

You'll be given a short user story which describes a potential application, what it does, the user experience, what kind of data is involved. Your task is to design the data model or explain how you'd implement the business logic as code. The goal here is to see how you’d solve a problem, from an architectural point of view.

Technical assignment

Provide a working code sample (100-200 loc), in any language, that achieves function X and includes a full test suite. This is really about how you approach TDD and less about how well your code works.

Hands on with company code

Build feature X using tools in the company’s stack. This code might duplicate an existing live feature, extend it, or simulate a bug fix. The goal here is to see if you can hit the ground running and deliver useful code on day 1.

Depending on the complexity of the assignment, you’ll be given a few hours or a few days to complete it. And in most cases, you’ll be able to ask questions, make assumptions, use the tools you’re comfortable with, and discuss your decisions after your work has been reviewed.

For design exercises and technical assignments, you’re probably not going to produce something that the company can monetize. You’re giving up your time, like a regular interview, but there’s no risk of IP theft / stolen ideas. As a result, you probably won’t be compensated for your time.

That said, if you’re asked to build a new feature, work with client code, or deliver some, thing that could be monetized, it’s ok to ask for monetary compensation.

It’ll probably be a token amount (not a true freelance rate), but it'll make your code a work for hire, eliminating any nasty legal issues down the road.

Online hackathons


Agora HolidayHack

Agora is closing out the year with a bonus online hackathon with $2,000 in cash prizes + lots of swag.

All you have to do is build an app or website that uses the Agora real-time-communications (RTC) platform. Use RTC to solve a real world problem, re-invent the future, or simply be creative!

This challenge ends Dec 30th!


Microsoft Graph Security Hackathon

Corporate security is tough. While most companies use a variety of specialized tools to audit their attack surface, investigate attacks, and secure devices & user data, these tools aren't designed to communicate with each other.

Siloed software leads to hacky integrations which at best, don't work well and at worst, provide a false sense of security.

But, Microsoft believes you can solve these integration challenges using their new Graph Security API and is offering $15,000 in prizes to prove they're serious!

This API is a unified REST endpoint that makes it easy to access & act on security insights from an ecosystem of connected security solutions.


Amazon Alexa Multimodal Skills Challenge

Amazon has been rolling out new Alexa features all year. In-skill purchases & subscriptions? Check! New APIs for music skills & hosted skills? Check! A ton of new devices? You know it!

They've also been working on new tools like the Alexa Presentation Language (APL), which enables you to build visually-rich Skills for devices with screens.

Join our latest Alexa Challenge and build a new skill incorporating APL that delivers a multi-modal (voice & visuals) user experience.

There are $150,000 in prizes, with special awards for the best living room, kitchen, bedtime, morning, kids, and in-skill purchasing expriences.


Twitch AWS Extensions Challenge

First, Twitch turned the live streaming world upside down. Now they’re partnering with AWS to elevate the streaming experience with Twitch Extensions.

Extensions are apps that can interact with live streams as a panel on a channel or a video overlay, creating a fully interactive experience between content creators & their viewers.

Get your hands dirty and build your first Extension using the WYSIWYG Twitch Extensions Sandbox. Then, distribute it on the Twitch Developer Portal for a chance to win $26,500 in prizes.


Mobi Grand Challenge

The MOBI Grand Challenge's goal is to create a viable, decentralized, ad-hoc network of blockchain / dlt connected vehicles and infrastructure that can coordinate, share data, and improve urban mobility.

Winning teams will demonstrate how blockchains and related technologies: distributed ledgers, cryptography, tokens, and consensus mechanisms can make getting from A to B safer, cleaner, faster, more efficient and accessible.

There are over $100,000 in prizes sponsored by Ocean Protocol.


Amazon Sumerian AR/VR Challenge

3D experiences are here, and Amazon Sumerian is the quickest and easiest way to build one! Amazon is challenging you to create AR, VR, or 3D apps using their browser-based IDE. Sumerian’s unmatched ease-of-use, you can build highly immersive and interactive scenes for a variety of headsets, and both iOS and Android devices. Plus, with one-click publishing, there's no need to build for each platform from scratch.

There are over $100,000 in prizes, so fire up your terminal, goggle into the Metaverse, and try not to snow crash.

BTW, all participants will get access to tutorials & training materials and will receive support throughout the challenge via our Slack community, Twitch, and webinars.


Agora Video SDK Hackathon

Agora just launched v2.5 of their Video SDK and they're giving $1,750 in prizes to three web apps which incorporate some of the following features:

• Quality Transparency - Monitor call quality with audio / video statistics

• Audio Mixing - Combine mic audio with pre-recorded audio files

• Device Management - Query device info, trigger callbacks on device state changes, and modify states

• Audio / Video Track Management - get / add / remove audio tracks from a call

• Volume indicator - monitor active speakers and their volume level

• IPV6 Support

If you've ever thought about building video into your app, this is a great opportunity. You can get started with 4 lines of code. BTW, this hackathon ends December 14, so get your app in soon!


Local hackathons in December–February