Burch’s new home in Montana in the forest.

From Dallas-Fort Worth to The Forest

Author: Burch Gibson| Marketing Operations Manager, HelloSign |US — Montana

I’ve moved around a lot for varying reasons over the years. I lived in Southern California for years starting with college before eventually migrating to Seattle. During my Seattle years, I reconnected with an old friend on social media who invited me out to visit him at his home in Montana. I was itching to get out of town for a spell, and once I got there, the beauty of the place really struck me. I passed through again a year or so later when I relocated from Seattle to Virginia (and later North Carolina) to be closer to family.

The idea of moving to Montana started to register with me when I decided to leave North Carolina, but I went to Texas instead because I was concerned about getting a job if I were ever laid off or wanted to move to another company given the relatively small population of Montana. While in Texas, a common vacation for me was a 4- or 5-day weekend and renting a cabin in the woods of a state park in Oklahoma or Arkansas. These nature-oriented vacations were often rejuvenating for me on multiple levels and eventually made me think more and more about moving to Montana. Dropbox’s Virtual First policy, changes in the job market and the desire to be here made me realize I could make vacation ‘permanent’ — so I decided to take the plunge and make my dream a reality.

I now live in a pine forest on the Flathead Indian Reservation outside Missoula, Montana. Now I am surrounded by nature almost every hour of every day. Given what I do (Marketing Operations aka Marketing Automation) and the exponential growth in demand for it and the overall market growth of working virtually, I no longer worry about finding another job in the future should I ever need to.

Burch’s new home in Montana in the forest.

As for how I came to be at Dropbox, I had been in a part-time contract role at another tech company that was too slowly ramping up my hours when I was contacted for a full time contract opportunity at Dropbox on the HelloSign Marketing team. After a few months, my manager here left and I eventually converted to full-time status, taking over his role.

It’s Dropbox’s Virtual First work policy, which dictates that every employee’s primary work experience is a remote one, that allowed me to move to Montana AND be a full-time employee at the same time. The process from a work perspective was simply filling out a form and waiting for approval. The rest of it was mostly on me, as this was a relocation of personal choice rather than work asking me to move, but my manager had no issue with my move.

Dropbox has been one of the best places I’ve worked in my career. One Dropbox value is “make work more human,” and that goes with how people treat each other here. Dropbox is filled with very smart people who work hard, but treat each other as humans. A secondary aspect I find fascinating is that when a bigger company buys out a smaller one as Dropbox did with HelloSign, typically the smaller company’s culture is wiped out. However, Dropbox has allowed the HelloSign culture to flourish even as things grow more tightly integrated across the board. And one cultural difference on the HelloSign side I would say is more of a social aspect or deeper connection in terms of personal interactions, even though people are mostly interacting through Slack and Zoom. This connection allows people to take more risks and be more of who they are.

For me, who I am now is a happy forest-dweller. I don’t miss the big city headaches that made me feel like someone was almost literally physically in the way all the time, and the Texas heat I do not miss one single bit. Just being here, right in the forest with a mountain view, is so peaceful and relaxing. If I am feeling stressed, I can just turn my head and look out the window for a minute. There are also so many new places to explore; there’s lots of great food and resources in Missoula, but my new favorite place is Jacobs Island Dog Park. It’s literally an island in the Clark Fork River right next to the University of Montana. I often go to the back of the island and can literally sit in the flowing river with my dog and watch inner tubers float by!

Burch and his dog.

I’m still adjusting to life in the forest; having several acres of property in a pine forest is very different than your typical yard in suburbia. It’s taken me a long time to figure out what I need, such as what kind of riding lawn mower (small tractor), a trailer, pest management solutions, and a solution for trash service, which isn’t readily available here. And most of that is summer stuff — experiencing a Montana winter is an experience yet to come!

But I’m so grateful for the freedom that Virtual First has given me. To live where I want, and have the flexibility to work irregular hours when and if needed, has empowered me to live the forest life I always wanted to. If you’re thinking about making your own big move to a career with Dropbox that supports you like it’s supported me, you can learn more here!

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