Natalie Klotz tells us all about relocating to our Tel Aviv office from the U.S., and how it has become her home
Our Dropbox Tel Aviv office is truly a unique location, drawing roughly 60 team members of all different backgrounds to its brightly colored offices in the tallest building in the city. But while most Dropboxers here are native to Israel, Software Engineer Natalie Klotz actually grew up in the U.S. She told us a little about her journey to Tel Aviv and how, over time, it has become her home.
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your education, and your journey to Dropbox?
I went to Brown for college. I started out studying mechanical engineering, but had to take a computer science pre-req my junior year and was like, “whoa, this is way more fun!” So I switched my major late, ended up staying an extra semester, and was a part-time student for two semesters — it was the best hack in the world. I did an internship at Dropbox, got a return offer, and looked at a couple other places for post-grad, but it was kind of a no-brainer for me. I ended up coming back to Dropbox and have been here ever since, five years now.
I started out in our San Francisco office, but I had spent some time in Israel right before joining Dropbox full time. At the same time, Dropbox was finishing up its acquisition of CloudOn. On my first day in SF I received an email with the subject line, “Spending a week visiting our Israel office.” That was the first time I discussed relocating offices, and over the next year and a half I found every opportunity to travel to Tel Aviv for work before formally starting the relocation process in the beginning of 2017.
Outside of Dropbox, rugby is my life. I’ve played for ten years across three clubs and have competed in five different countries. Next year I’ll be eligible for the Israeli National team after completing my three years of residence in October 2020!
What’s your favorite thing about being a software engineer? How do you feel as if you are challenged/can excel as an engineer at Dropbox?
It’s constantly challenging. I describe my job as doing puzzles every day. It always kind of feels like this little problem solving challenge. That’s the best part about being a software engineer!
Dropbox does a really good job of making sure that the puzzles you’re solving aren’t puzzles that you’ve already solved. This really confused me when I was a new engineer. I had figured out how to do something, and then there was another project with the same problem, and I said, “I’ll do it, I already know how to do it!” And my manager would say, “No, you already know how to do it. Do this other thing you don’t know how to do yet.” At the time, I didn’t quite appreciate what that really meant. But that’s my peak sell on Dropbox now — it’s never boring, and I’m very rarely unchallenged.
In your opinion, what makes Dropbox Tel Aviv unique?
It’s really special to have a small office. I used to be in the SF office and was surrounded by a sea of faces as Dropbox got bigger and bigger. In the Tel Aviv office, I know most peoples’ partners on a first name basis, and have watched their kids get older. With the time zone, we feel it even more, that we’re almost like our own little small company within another company.
Globally, it’s kind of a weird melting pot of cultures. We have this very strong feel of Dropbox and this kind of California tech vibe with the plants and exposed pipes and the perks we get and the style of work we do. But it’s still very deeply Israeli. It’s kind of run by the people, and everyone’s speaking Hebrew, so you really feel like you’re in Israel. There’s this love of life. I feel like people work to live here, versus living to work.
How would you say Dropbox Tel Aviv creates community?
Outbound, we try to do a lot. We have the Volunteer Week at Dropbox. We’ve also done outreach with a great group that helps work integration for people with mental and physical disabilities. More recently, we held a soccer game with an organization that uses sports as social integration for people who are homeless or coming back from being homeless. That was by far one of the highlights at Dropbox that year, it was really fun.
Inbound, for me, it’s been a huge factor. It’s weird to be dropped into someone else’s world, when you don’t speak the language and don’t know anyone, and rebuild your life with Dropbox as the one consistent thing. I moved to Israel two and a half years ago with no family here. Most of the people I knew here were people I knew through work, and they basically became my family for that first year while I was settling. I’ve spent holidays with peoples’ families. They became my entire support network. I really feel like I have 30 parents at the office. And I know that my network and my safety net, even if I were to quit tomorrow, is all still there.
What is your favorite part of the office?
There’s a spot in the Tuck Shop with these little couches and the most absurd sunset you’ll ever see. We’re in the tallest building in Tel Aviv, on the 44th floor, with floor to ceiling panoramic windows looking out over the beach about a mile away. I used to have a calendar reminder that was set to go off two minutes later every day for me to get up and go look at the sunset. It’s not so good in the summer, it sets late. But in the winters, it’s 4:30 or so and you’re getting your second or third coffee of the day, and we all just stand there in the Tuck Shop quietly. No one talks, but sometimes we film it, and you’ll see it on everyone’s Instagrams later.
How are you making the most of working from home?
I adopted the sweetest most curious little kitten. He arrived the day before Passover which was a blessing because I didn’t end up spending the holidays all alone. I named him Hanavi (הנביא), which means “The Prophet,” and we’re pretty much inseparable.
Want to learn more about our Tel Aviv location, and our other offices around the world? Check out our jobs page.