Marianna Nam on embracing identity as a combination of cultures and heritages

May 23 · 4 min read
I wore a hanbok (a traditional Korean dress) for the first time in years during my most recent visit to Korea. This picture was taken at Changdeokgung Palace.

For Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month (APIHM), we celebrate all of the rich culture, traditions, and history of Asians and Pacific Islanders. This year, our employee resource group Asians@ chose the theme Roots: Growing Your Story. This month’s theme is about “origins” — the idea that where we came from is part of what makes us who we are now. We spoke with Dropboxers about what this theme means to them.

Q: What is your name, what office do you work out of, and how long have you been at Dropbox?

A: My name is Marianna Nam, and I work out of the SF office. I’ve been at Dropbox since September 2017.

Q: What’s your current role in helping make the world work better?

A: I work with an amazing team of Dropboxers who are passionate about connecting college and university students with meaningful opportunities. In my role, I handle the interviewing logistics for intern and new grad hiring, plan and execute events for campus visits, and help manage our stellar internship program.

Q: In your time at Dropbox, what’s something you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of?

A: I had the opportunity to plan and oversee on-campus events for this year’s recruiting efforts at University of Washington. I worked with the UW Career Center and a team of engineers at Dropbox Seattle to prepare an interview workshop for students interested in software engineering. It was such a great experience meeting students from diverse backgrounds and providing them with guidance around how to approach their coding interviews. Many of the students were eager to explore the opportunities at Dropbox, and we’re so excited to have a UW student joining our amazing intern class this summer.

Representing Dropbox at the UW Society of Women in Engineers Career Fair.

Q: What does this year’s theme, Roots: Growing Your Story, mean to you?

A: To me, this year’s theme is about embracing our identity as a combination of the culture and heritage of communities we come from as well as the communities we’ve grown to be a part of.

I was born in Korea and moved to the states when I was three years old. My parents, siblings, and I are the first and, to this day, only members of our family to move out of Korea.

Left: My parents, older brother, and I left Korea to live in the United States when I was three years old. Right: We planned many trips during our first few years in California, including this trip to Santa Cruz!

Growing up as an immigrant, I often lacked a sense of belonging to a community. In certain settings, I felt ashamed for not being Korean enough while in others, all I wanted was to feel more American. I used to wish these parts of my identity could remain separated. But over time, I’ve realized that being shaped by influences that span different cultures is a unique and exciting experience that should be celebrated.

Q: Roots need nurture to grow; resources like water, soil, air, and sunlight are all necessary to stay healthy. What helps grow your roots?

A: For me, volunteer opportunities have time and time again been a space for growth and learning. It is so rewarding and eye-opening to meet new people and hear their stories while giving back to the community. Whether it be mentoring a student as they apply for college or cooking and serving food to the homeless at Civic Center, I walk away from these experiences feeling more connected with and supported by others in the community.

Volunteering at Asian Health Services in Oakland with Asians@

Q: Is there an Asian or Pacific Islander leader or role model that you look up to? How have they shaped who you are today?

A: Ali Wong is absolutely hilarious and unapologetically herself, which reminds me just how important it is to embrace every aspect of my identity and take pride in my roots.

Q: What topic do you feel is top of mind for you and the Asian community that you belong to and why?

A: I think a topic that has been and continues to be top of mind is representation — in media, in politics, in leadership. Although there has certainly been progress worth celebrating, we’ve still got a ways to go when it comes to providing the Asian community with the space to tell our diverse and intricate stories.

Q: And lastly, what are you most excited for with this year’s APIHM at Dropbox?

A: I can’t wait to celebrate the month and enjoy all of the good eats at the “Streets of Asia” festival. Major shout out to the amazing Tuck Shop and Office Teams! I’m also especially excited about the global involvement in this year’s APIHM. It’s been such a treat collaborating with the planning team and seeing such cool events come together for global offices like Paris and Dublin!

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Life Inside Dropbox

Get to know the people of Dropbox and the stories of how we’re making the world work better. Want to learn more about current opportunities? Check out:

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