Meet Dropbox’s Hack Week heroes: first time hackers who took on the challenge of pushing our projects toward success

Hack Week is a special time at Dropbox. For a moment, Dropboxers get to set aside their everyday work and focus on working together to build something that previously only existed in their dreams — something that will make their job easier, improve how they connect with their coworkers, or help non-profits maximize their impact (such as our Dropbox Foundation partners). And for first-time hackers, it feels like the sky’s the limit — and they’re more than ready to rise to the challenge.

One such participant is Product Designer Yunjie Yao, who joined Dropbox just a month before Hack Week. She led the design of two Hack Week projects: Better DropAbout, a project to make remote work easier by helping employees understand coworkers’ availability and team structure, and Dropbox Reads, a project to create an online reading community at Dropbox. The latter project won the Make (Virtual First) Work Human award, designated for projects that either solve a challenge that we face as a virtual first team or spark joy as we work from anywhere.

But the award was only an afterthought for Yunjie, who gained so much more than that during the project. She said, “I felt lucky to be able to work on Hack Week during my first month here because I quickly got a deep understanding of company culture. We’re creative, kind, smart people that enjoy working together. And I got a chance to learn from some very inspirational folks in the industry. It’s a rewarding and unforgettable experience.”

Yunjie isn’t alone in finding inspiration through Hack Week — inspiration that can blend into daily work and carry Dropboxers through the rest of the year. Fellow Dropbox Reads team member and Software Engineer Wooyang Son said, “As someone participating in Hack Week for the first time ever, I felt so inspired by all the projects people worked on. Personally, I find it important to keep learning and being inspired at work to stay motivated, and HackWeek was a great opportunity to do that!”

One common misconception about Hack Week is that you have to be in a technical role to participate. This is far from the case at Dropbox! No matter what your job is, there’s a place for you to lend a helping hand. Just ask DEI Program Manager Stephanie Smith, who worked on IRL Lighthouse, a real-time map on which Dropboxers can set their location and co-working status so that other Dropboxers can come join them and make in-person connections.

Stephanie said of her experience, “As my first Hack Week, it was really fun to work on a project completely outside of my comfort zone and day-to-day, and even though I’m non-technical, I was able to contribute to the project in a meaningful way! It also enabled me to get to know some Dropboxers across different teams I otherwise might never have met.” Those Dropboxers included Harry Zhou, an Engineering Intern, and Senior Product Marketing Manager Ariana Tiwari, who said, “As someone who joined Dropbox remotely just three months ago, facilitating connections at a new company was very important to me. Hack Week allowed me to work with a variety of people across the company, become immersed in Dropbox culture, and work on something fun that I was passionate about!”

Harry was far from the only intern who jumped into Hack Week headfirst. Software Engineer Intern Marta Mendez said she was a bit overwhelmed at first, trying to figure out how to best contribute to her two project teams — but she quickly realized that her reach could be as great as she wanted it to. “Particularly as an intern, I feel Hack Week is a great chance to contribute beyond your given project and assigned team. I really enjoyed working on the projects, getting to know other Dropboxers, and seeing the results that came out of it. I am still amazed by the quality and diversity of the projects submitted, and by how much you can achieve in as little as 5 days when you surround yourself with such passionate and talented people.”

In fact, there are virtually no barriers for who can join in on the Hack Week fun; even the newest of our team members are able to participate. Software Engineer Gabriel Marques was just in his second week at Dropbox as he joined the Freelancer Business in a Box project, which explored different ways to improve the Dropbox experience for freelancers. He said, “Even though I was brand new at Dropbox, I felt included and enabled to work with the team. And I wasn’t alone. Most of my teammates hadn’t worked with one another either. It’s refreshing how Hack Week brings people from different teams and backgrounds together!”

We’re so proud of everything our first-time hackers contributed to this week’s Hack Week. If you’re interested in learning a little more about what next year’s Hack Week could look like, we have good news — we’re hiring.

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