Pretty much, it's my source of income for the last 6 months. It gives great flexibility and reward for the contestant. Saved me from start-up burn out XD.
Several national programming contest in my country, the most prestigious for me might be between Silver Medal in National Science Olympiad and Gold Medal in BNPC HS which gave me full scholarship in my University.
Reading, taking private time to think with coffee / tea.
Submit back up submission and don't be too clumsy with the requirements; done is better than perfect.
At first I tried Topcoder studio several years ago. I didn't intend to be focused on TC back there. And I focused on doing a start-up. After time went by, I realized it's not that easy to run a start-up and I needed some cash. So I took a look at TC once more, and Thank God there's TCO onsite final that time. Then I competed and become Digital Run Winner for that month. Now, I really enjoy to working on Topcoder while preparing things for my next start up attempt 🙂