Professional Development
Hackathons / Tech jobs / Universities

Morgan State’s hackathon seeks to connect students with tech and financial services jobs

The HBCU collaborates with Lincoln Financial Group collaborate for a second time to foster its students' early career development.

Oluwadara Dina (left) and Marcus Cusaac present their team's project during codeLinc 2022. (C

This editorial article is a part of How to Get a Tech Job Month of’s editorial calendar.

This weekend, with the support of software engineers from a Fortune 200 insurance and investment management business, Maryland’s biggest HBCU will host a 24-hour hackathon to cultivate a more diverse workforce within the financial services and tech sectors.

The second annual codeLinc event marks a return of the partnership between Morgan State University (MSU) and Lincoln Financial Group. codeLinc, which begins on Saturday, puts MSU students in advisor-supported teams to tackle real-world challenges through coding solutions — all while vying for cash prizes. 

Last year’s event boasted 35 participants, while the 2023 event at MSU’s Earl Graves School of Business already has over 110 students registered. This year’s competition will allow MSU students to put their technical skills and knowledge to the test outside the classroom, as well as experience part of a future IT career. 

Beige academic building with turquoise windows in front of blue sky with white clouds near grey walkway with people.

Morgan State University’s Earl. G. Graves School of Business and Management. (Courtesy photo)

“The technical talent and skills demonstrated by these students are very impressive,” said Scott Roth, Lincoln Financial Group’s SVP and divisional CIO for workplace solutions, in an email to “After spending 24 hours collaborating with Lincoln coaches, talking through ideas, designing solutions, building and testing their code and overcoming programming challenges as a team, they will have a better understanding of what their futures as IT professionals could look like.”

The top three teams will win $4,000, $2,000 and $1,000, respectively, providing a strong incentive for students to showcase their skills and innovative ideas.

Can a hackathon get a student a tech job?

Today’s fast-paced technological world requires diverse technical skills to succeed in any career — particularly in IT. With the increasing demand for such skills, universities like MSU and initiatives like codeLinc offer students a platform to develop their technical abilities.

MSU was founded in 1867 with a simple yet powerful vision: to establish an institution for the education and training of free and newly-freed African Americans. Today, the university provides nearly 140 academic programs spanning from the baccalaureate to the doctorate level. To stay current with the ever-evolving tech landscape, MSU’s academic programs prioritize hands-on learning that grants students valuable practical experience in their chosen fields.

Participating in hackathons like codeLinc may help students develop various technical skills that are essential for an IT career Software development roles frequently require the ability to code in programming languages like Python, Java and C++. Understanding data structures, algorithms and computer networking concepts are also essential technical skills. 

While traditional educational paths like earning a computer science degree provide one way to develop technical skills, many successful tech professionals have taken non-traditional paths.

According to data that MSU’s public relations team provided, 31 Morgan State computer science majors applied to graduate this spring semester. Moreover, four participants from last year’s codeLinc launched IT careers through internships with Lincoln Financial Group. The combination of this pipeline prospect with other mentorship opportunities gives students at Morgan State, which may become the country’s first public HBCU to achieve R1 classification, several chances to strengthen their professional prospects. 

“We have an impressive lineup of mentors and judges who will be providing guidance and feedback to our participants throughout the event, and we’re confident that our hackathon will foster new connections and inspire innovative ideas,” said codeLinc co-organizer Naja Mack, an assistant professor in MSU’s computer science department, via email. 

An opening ceremony at 11 a.m. precedes the main event’s noon kickoff. The hackathon will continue for 24 hours until the closing ceremony when the winners will be announced and awarded their prizes. 

Learn more about codeLinc in past participants’ words through this video:

codeLinc isn’t the only Saturday event aimed at young people from underrepresented groups aspiring to enter the tech workforce. Code in the Schools will host the second annual Youth Conference of Network Defenders, an all-day convening for middle and high school students to learn about the cybersecurity sector, at its offices in Station North.

Companies: Morgan State University
Series: How to Get a Tech Job Month 2023

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