Monica Muranyi has been a Topcoder member since 2010. In 2014, she started participating in the Coding track and her competitive spirit soon drove her to be one of the best coders. Her interview gives us a very interesting insight into a powerful and effective competitor on Topcoder.
1. Please tell me a few things about you and the country you live in.
I’ve live in Vienna, Austria since 2016. I work on different development projects from home: Topcoder challenges (and reviews) and other projects for different clients.
2. What is your Topcoder story? What encouraged you to join and compete on this platform?
I found the website while trying to find resources to get better at programming. Then I found out about the high prizes and decided to try to compete although a colleague told me I have no chances against others that already have experience on Topcoder. I think that remark motivated me even more than the prizes.
3. What do you like about Topcoder and what would you change?
I like that you have a relatively short and fixed timeline to get the best solution for a specific task or set of tasks so there’s small chance you’ll procrastinate especially if you know only the best 1-2 solutions are paid. This works for me very well. For example, if I would want to learn a new technology, I would learn it quicker via a Topcoder challenge than reading a tutorial and trying an example project.
The only thing I would change is the new Topcoder website, unfortunately it’s hard to find what you are looking for, the UX is not intuitive for me.
4. Where should competitors focus on when competing on Code? Can you also point out a few things they should avoid?
In the beginning they should focus on asking questions about the scope. The scope is often not clearly defined in the contest details. Then focus on solving all the major requirements so you gain confidence that you can submit a passing submission. Then refine, check edge cases, clean the code, document it. Keep a list of things the reviewers usually look at (after you get a bit of experience with the review phase) and try to check and fix them before you submit. Always download your submission after you submit it and check you sent the correct version.
5. What’s the most important thing you have learned on Topcoder?
I am still learning this one but I am getting better at it: it’s how to lose gracefully.
6. What would you tell a friend of yours who has no idea about Topcoder to convince her to join the site?
I would describe how awesome TCO is!
This article is part of the 5 Weeks to Learn Topcoder educational series. Want to learn more? Check out the entire series and all the helpful content here.