Angie Coleman on creating her own space
After carving a path from an eight-person startup to Dropbox, administrative assistant Angie Coleman shares her experience.
What do you get when you combine ever-changing priorities, a coding club, and team events with picnics, ping-pong, and cats? Angelica Coleman’s day-to-day life as an administrative assistant here at Dropbox.
What did you do before Dropbox?
Before Dropbox I was working at a mobile startup in Boston called Sold. I was in charge of all of our non-engineering interns (hiring, onboarding, and managing them), managed the pricing and marketplace departments, and worked with the engineers to automate our pricing algorithm. It was one of the craziest jobs I’ve ever had, but also tons of fun.
What surprised you about Dropbox when you joined?
I was shocked to see how much like a startup Dropbox really is, despite its rapid growth. Coming from an eight-person company, I was a bit nervous about joining what was then a team of over 500 people. But I think it’s safe to say that within my first week of being here, those fears went away. Dropbox is scrappy — in a good way — and each team feels like its own little company without being disconnected from Dropbox as a whole. It’s a balance I honestly never expected to find, and I’m so happy that I did.
What do you do at Dropbox?
I have an ever-changing role, and I love it. I’m on the Admin team, and I support a few individuals as well as the engineering teams they manage. My job is to make everyone else’s work easier by managing their schedules so they can focus on the bigger things and stress a little less. I’m also the go-to person for team events and all things fun, which is great because it lets me tap into my more creative side. For example, I love to oversee non-traditional team outings, like helping different members of our team plan a “Mobile Team Neighborhood Hangout.” That’s when a member of the team gets to pick the activity, designing the day around things they like to do in their free time — like visiting their favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, or a picnic with ping pong and cats — so we get to know them better.
What’s been most challenging in your role so far?
Prioritizing all the different tasks and projects has definitely been the most challenging. There’s always so much to do here, and when your leads are busy, you can bet that the admins are even busier. It’s pretty easy to get into a habit of saying “yes!” to requests from your leads and teams — but then at the end of the day, you see your to-do list and think “I’ve made a terrible mistake.” Learning how to say “No,” by prioritizing what’s truly important for your lead and the company to succeed has been very helpful.
What’s been most exciting?
I think it’s the freedom that comes with this territory. Being an admin means that you’re working one-on-one with some of the most experienced people in the office, which allows you to learn so much from them. There’s also freedom to pursue other passions and interests, while still doing your job. If I ever want to learn more about design, I can just talk to my lead and attend a design review, which is great (and I’ve done it).
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during your time at Dropbox?
To just go for it. Dropboxers don’t just talk the talk, and it shows. I’ve learned that if I want to see a change — be on the admin team, a team I support, or the company at large — I just have to go for it by proposing the idea, getting an action plan, and getting it done.
What inspired you to start the “U-Dropbox” coding club?
I tried coding back a few years ago and loved it. When I got to Dropbox I selfishly thought, “Some of the best engineers in the world work here. I should befriend some so I can continue learning to code.” I told a few other Dropboxers about what I was doing and surprisingly, a ton of people wanted in. I emailed a bunch of engineers asking for volunteers willing to do after-work mentoring, and after that, we had a group! We call ourselves “U-Dropbox,” like University of Dropbox, and it’s open for anyone interested in becoming more technical.
I’m hoping to expand the club to other specialties likes design, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. People here love to learn, and we have some of the brightest people to learn from, so I want to tap into that.
What else do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I keep myself busy with a ton of other projects outside of work, like designing and sewing clothing as well as home decor. I love to paint, I’m always listening to music or dancing, and I’ve recently gotten into woodworking and building furniture. I think it’s so important to have hobbies and projects that you love and that aren’t related to work.
What are you looking forward to next, for yourself and for Dropbox?
I’m so excited to see Dropbox execute on all the products we have in the works right now, and I’m looking forward to continuing our growth in SF and internationally as well.
As for myself, I’m just excited to see what else there is here! Since joining, I’ve worked with two engineering teams I love, found an incredible life guru who’s coached me through the ups and downs, gotten involved with the Dropbox diversity team, created an internal tool for Dropboxers to meet each other, ran a weeklong pillow-making class for the office during hack week, started a coding club, and now I’m heading up a new employee resource group for underrepresented minorities.
I’m just so excited to see all that I’ve already done, how it’s impacted the company, and what else I can be a part of while still finding time to sleep.
Dropbox is growing. We’d love for you to join us.