Alex Sosa on his Dropbox summer internship
Recent intern Alex reflects on his Dropbox experience before joining full time in the fall.
How did you first get interested in engineering?
I’ve always loved math, science, and solving problems. Being able to apply these interests to building products that people use and love made engineering the obvious choice.
You’re receiving your masters in CS but received your undergrad in EE. How did you decide to make the switch from hardware to software?
Coming into college, I wondered how I would make the choice between hardware and software, but I soon realized that this was an arbitrary delineation and I didn’t have to. I think learning the architectural design of computers along with the ability to program them gives you an incredible amount of power and understanding that just learning how to code at a high-level would never give you.
What motivated you to apply to Dropbox?
Some of my smartest peers at Stanford also interned for Dropbox, which I took as a good sign for what my Dropbox coworkers would be like. They all loved their time and raved about the people and the culture, so I decided to see for myself.
Tell us about your experience as an intern.
As a software engineer, I got exposure to many different parts of the Dropbox codebase and opportunities to solve smaller short-term projects as well as projects which spanned the entire summer. More generally, I learned a lot about the company, felt like an actual part of the company instead of just an intern, ate as much food as possible, and had a great time overall!
What does as typical day as an intern look like for you?
In the mornings, I would walk to work from the nearby corporate housing, get breakfast at the office, do a couple hours of programming before a quick ‘stand-up meeting’ to catch up with my team, and then get lunch with the team or other interns. After lunch, I would continue working on my project, asking my mentor questions if I have any along the way. Often during this time, I would have team meetings for planning bigger goals or more personal meetings with other employees to make sure I was getting the most out of the internship.
What has pleasantly surprised you the most about your team since joining Dropbox (as an intern)?
I was surprised by how much my team enjoyed working together. Even after spending all day working with one another, we would still get most meals together and loved doing team off-sites outside of work.
How did your internship at Dropbox compare to other experiences you’ve had at other companies or at university?
When I was working at other companies or doing research, I felt like I was counting down the hours until the day was over and I could go home. At Dropbox, I always enjoyed my time at work. On a day-by-day basis, I felt like I was making progress on something important, learning, and having fun.
Tell us more about your mentor and your team.
My mentor was great! She was always willing to answer any question I had about my project, Dropbox, or career advice in general, and was one of the main reasons I loved my summer as much as I did. We worked on the small Identity and Contacts team, which manages the systems that maintain and update contacts and identity information for user accounts.
What is a unique challenge you worked on as an intern? How did you overcome it?
To complete my summer project, I had to make modifications to not only server code, but also to both the web and desktop clients. This required me to learn not only how to use a new coding language, but also to learn the intricate details and interactions of three different codebases. While this presented a challenge in terms of time to get up to speed, it also granted me great exposure to different parts of the Dropbox codebase that I wouldn’t normally have been involved with if my project was less wide-spread.
Tell us about a highlight of your internship.
We had a team offsite near the end of my internship where we learned how to sew plush versions of our team mascot. Enjoying each other’s company outside of work really exemplified how I had become a part of the team and close to my teammates after interning with them for a couple weeks, and made it that much harder to have my internship come to an end.
Do you have any advice for getting the most out of a summer internship?
Learn about other teams and meet other people who share your interests. Don’t be afraid to let your mentor know if you want to change the direction of your project!