From Participant to Volunteer: Taking on Challenges with Huy To

Huy To first got involved with Dash in 2020.

At the time, Huy was living in Helsinki and working on the thesis for his bachelor degree in Business & Hospitality at LAB University of Applied Sciences.

“It was the height of the pandemic, so I was spending a lot of time online and I happened to see an advertisement for Dash Hack on social media. The idea of hacking in a hotel grabbed my interest! There weren’t so many activities because of COVID-19, so I thought it would be a unique and inspiring event to join.”

Before applying to Dash, both hackathons and design thinking were completely foreign to Huy.

“To be honest, at first I thought design was defined as something artistic.”

Then, when Huy was looking more into the application, he read the 'frequently asked questions' section of Dash’s website. One question asked, ‘do I have to know how to draw to be a part of Dash Hack?’. He learned the easy answer — ‘no’ — but also more about Dash’s definition of design and vision to bring design thinking to everyone.

“The FAQ made me feel more confident about applying. I knew that my own skills would be valued and that I would get trained in Design Thinking at the event itself.”

Challenge Accepted

Huy submitted his application to Dash Hack 2022 and was accepted into the Citycon challenge. The challenge was how to integrate physical and virtual elements in shopping centres in order to enhance customer experience.

“My team had all different backgrounds. There were a software engineering student, an interior architecture student and someone who also studied business. We balanced each other really nicely.”

Despite having different fields, Huy was the only one who didn’t study at Aalto University. Another benefit of Dash Hack was hearing about the different study programmes that Aalto has to offer and about its thriving startup ecosystem — especially Aaltoes.

Dash Hack 2020 was a formative experience for Huy.

“I was impressed by the concept itself but also by the organisation. The organisers and volunteers were all so friendly and supportive. We had this great weekend of hacking and then there was this added bonus that my team ended up winning our challenge. I was so excited that I told all my friends about Dash.”

From Participant To Volunteer

After talking up Dash Hack to all his friends, Huy inspired many to apply in 2021. However, with a busy year leading up to graduation, Huy missed the hackathon that year.

“I hesitated to apply and missed the deadline. It was a real pity.”

By 2022, Huy was craving a return to Dash Hack and looking for a new way to be involved. This time, he decided to join as a volunteer.

“It was a completely different experience. I was in the programme team and in the food preparation group. Basically, I got to take care of the needs of our volunteers and make sure they were fed throughout the weekend. I wasn’t busy all the time, so I also got to help out in other areas whenever I felt like lending a hand.”

One of Huy’s favorite memories actually happened while helping out another team.

“At one point I started chatting with the info team and somehow ended up sitting behind the info desk and joining them. It was a nice way to have a chat with more people and learn about a different area of the event.”

Throughout the weekend, Huy not only interacted with other volunteers and participants, but made a point to connect with challenge mentors.

“I had ample opportunities to meet different people. I think that was the greatest thing about being a volunteer.”

Huy’s Next Challenge

With being a participant in 2020 and volunteering in 2021, Huy has gotten to see many angles of Dash. Looking back on his years of involvement, Huy can see that Dash has had a significant influence on the life decisions he has made since and new challenges he has decided to take on.

Dash was a jumping off point for Huy’s involvement with Aaltoes, where he is now the Community Manager. Huy is also excited to apply to study at Aalto University this December.  

“My experience with Dash has been exceptional. It has led me to opportunities I would not have found otherwise.”

Words Of Wisdom

After tracking his Dash journey and the exciting places it has taken him, Huy continues to recommend Dash to anyone and everyone he meets.

“If you happen to have any kind of idea or thought to apply for Dash, either as a participant or as a volunteer, then just do it. If I hadn't applied in 2020, then I wouldn't have had that wonderful experience and all these wonderful experiences since.”

“If You Have Even The Slightest Idea Of Getting Involved… Don’t Hesitate!”