A Decade of Kick Start
Posted by Julia DeLorenzo, Program Manager, Coding Competitions
Kick Start is celebrating 10 years! Kick Start is a great tool for newcomers looking to grow their competitive programming skills. Whether you’re brand new to coding competitions or a programmer who is looking to level up, there is something for everyone.
If you haven’t heard, Kick Start is a global coding competition made up of online rounds consisting of fun algorithmic and mathematical programming challenges. Participants can partake in any or all of the rounds throughout the season, because there are no eliminations!
When Kick Start launched in 2013, it was a regional competition in Asia that consisted of only 3 rounds and 13 problems. Today, Kick Start has grown into a global competition with more than 110,000 participants, 8 rounds, and 32 Googler-created problems (that’s 32 chances to grow your skills!).
In 2020, Kick Start piloted a new program called Coding Practice with Kick Start, which is a great option for those newer to competitive programming who want to gain familiarity with coding competitions, and in 2022 introduced this program to Coding Competition’s global audience.
Coding Practice with Kick Start is a series of multi-day practice sessions held throughout the season that allow participants to get familiar with the Kick Start platform and problems in their own time. There is no timer or scoreboard and starter code is provided. At the end of the practice session we share detailed solution walkthrough videos to help you learn how to solve the problems.
Kick Start is powered by a passionate Program Manager, a dedicated core team made up of 20% engineers, and nearly 1,200 amazing Google volunteers who write and test the problems our participants see each season! Hear from the team below:
Lizzie Sapiro Santor, Kick Start Program Manager
“I was initially introduced to competitions through Code Jam when I became the coordinator back in 2014. I really enjoyed being part of the team and learning about the competitive programming space. It was different from any type of program I’ve ever planned, as it was fast paced, challenging, constantly evolving and super exciting. After a few years planning local tech events, in 2017, I didn’t stay away for long because I became the Program Manager for Kick Start, formerly known as Code Jam Kickstart. Kick Start was founded in APAC and in partnership with the local University programs team, I was able to scale the competition globally, so anyone around the world could partake.
My favorite thing about Kick Start is the people. After 5+ years of being involved with this competition, I’ve enjoyed working and meeting so many passionate, intelligent and creative people. I love to hear stories from participants about how Kick Start has helped them in their career, University, or coding journey. It’s fun to meet people face to face at local practice events or world finals. I also appreciate working with the Kick Start engineering team, who helps me host Kick Start. Without them, the competition would not be possible and I so admire all their hard work and inventiveness, ensuring a high quality competition for our users.
My best piece of advice to folks looking to improve their competitive programming skills is to keep practicing! It’s so important to keep trying out past problems when you have down time and participating in upcoming rounds. That’s why we host rounds throughout the year, so you have a lot of chances to practice and improve. I hear so many people say “I didn’t do well, so I am not going to participate again.” And I really encourage you to not to be discouraged and keep going. Coding Practice with Kick Start is a great way to keep practicing. This multi-day practice session provides you with resources, 24/7 Google support, starter code, and detailed problem walkthrough videos. We will host three sessions throughout the 2023 season, so I definitely encourage you to join the practice sessions to grow those skills and prepare for the next Kick Start round.”
Bartosz Kostka, Software Developer and Kick Start Engineer
I like the educational aspect of this contest. A lot of people that I talked with who participated in Kick Start, felt that it helped them learn new things and advance in their careers – and that is all without huge pressure. Kick Start has a very friendly atmosphere as we have multiple rounds in which we don’t eliminate people so everyone can participate in as many rounds as they want. We also try to make sure that everyone will find something for themselves. For example, we launched Coding Practice with Kick Start to cater to people that want to start their journey with competitive programming. We want to make these first steps as easy and enjoyable as possible.
My biggest piece of advice is to never give up! Even if you fail, you learn something new that will surely help you in the future. And whenever you are ready, join us in one of the Kick Start rounds!”
Over the next few weeks, keep an eye on the blog – we’ll be spotlighting each of Google’s Coding Competitions in a series of blog posts to help you understand the ins and outs of each competition. Code Jam is up next! In the meantime, learn more about Kick Start at g.co/kickstart. Registration for the 2023 season will open on February 1, 2023.