When I joined university, I had just heard of the term from my friends, whose siblings participated in "hackathons" and I was really unaware but then came MLH's Local Hack Day: Build, for which I attended events at 4 in the morning but I found them super fun and it was a really new experience for me.
For you, the word "Hackathon" might feel daunting at first. But let me simplify it for you, these are some of the easiest platforms to compete and win prizes from your current level of coding knowledge, yes, you read that right! Whether you are an experienced programmer or know absolutely nothing about coding, hackathons are for YOU. From workshops to mini-events to project submissions, you end up learning a lot more things than you normally would. You can participate with your friends or work single-handedly.
Along with technical proficiency, you also get a chance to improve your soft skills by interacting with people from all over the world and also, if you don't have teammates, you can find them through these platforms, and who knows, you can meet some of your greatest friends for life.
I would also personally recommend any beginner to start with the hackathons listed on mlh.io or ones on Devpost. These are perfect for anyone, who has either just started to code or is a pro.
Hackathons are beginner-friendly environments where you can make new friends, turn some awesome innovative ideas into reality, win prizes, and get free swag! In the end, all that matters is your will to learn and how much you want to improvise and want to achieve. Dream bug, oops, big.
Keep Innovating. Keep Learning. Keep Coding.