UX Writing intern Thalia Butts on storytelling, learning Japanese, and owning your work

Many things have changed about how our internships at Dropbox are structured this summer, but one thing hasn’t: how cool our interns are. UX Writing intern Thalia Butts shared with us her passion for storytelling, her favorite quarantine hobbies, and her journey toward finding her space in tech.

Where do you call home?

Atlanta, Georgia.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a graduating senior mass communications major and creative writing minor at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC, the oldest HBCU (historically Black college or university) in South Carolina. Growing up in Atlanta surrounded by the visual and performing arts and having an orchestra teacher as a mother, I started playing the violin at age two. In high school, I wrote and produced media content, and served as a stage manager. My passion has always been writing, though. I will become a writer that leaves an impact so that my stories and the stories of my people can be heard and seen in their fullness, uncensored and unrepressed.

I love traveling, attending music festivals and concerts, studying languages, singing, exercising, and just experiencing life while remaining humble and centered on gratitude!

Left: Me on set as a Production Manager for a music video in Atlanta in June 2019; Right: The Internet Live in Nishishinsaibashi, Osaka, Japan Feb 2019!
Left: Me in front of the Yodobashi-Umeda Tower in Umeda, Osaka, Japan; Right: The aftermath of a Tyler, the Creator concert in Greensboro, NC in Oct 2019

What encouraged you to apply to Dropbox for an internship?

I applied to Dropbox because I love learning new things, and I knew that it would be a space for me to really explore UX writing and get a feel for where I can fit in the tech space.

What have you been up to during SIP?

SIP in Atlanta ended a while ago, but I’m still trying to stay home as much as possible. In my free time, I’m usually working out, reading “All About Love: New Visions” by bell hooks, hanging out with my family, holding a solo bible study, or studying Japanese! I’ve been studying for about a year and I’m hoping to make serious progress this summer. Oh, I’ve also been listening to lots of 20th century jazz recently — Ahmad Jamal and Art Tatum have been in heavy rotation.

My father, godmother, mother, sister, and myself at Miss Claflin University 2019–2020 Coronation, at which I was crowned Miss University Honors.

How did you first become interested in UX?

It was actually pretty serendipitous. I was playing around with my Adobe CC products and discovered Adobe XD. I really enjoyed playing around with UI design and after researching UI/UX on YouTube, it led me down a rabbit hole of videos, podcasts, and a TON of Medium articles about UX as a craft. It was super interesting to me, so when I saw the UX Writing internship with Dropbox, I was so excited to have the chance to learn more about it!

From your experience so far, what has been the most pleasant surprise about interning at Dropbox?

Everyone is literally so nice! I’ve met people from all over the company and have had some really great conversations about music, shows, tech, being Black in tech, gardening, and more! People are genuinely interested in my project, my interests, my progress, and my goals and they treat me like I’m a valuable part of the team.

My brother, father, and me on Father’s Day 2020

What company value resonates most with you?

While I’m really moved and empowered by all five values, Own It really stands out to me. I appreciate the emphasis on learning from the mistakes you make and being honest with yourself and others about where you messed up. Owning everything you do and moving forward with more wisdom and grace is such a powerful way of thinking, living, and operating as an individual and as a company.

What are you most excited about this summer?

I’m most excited about really understanding where I can fit in tech as a Black HBCU-student with a passion for writing and storytelling in unique ways. This field and the craft of UX Writing are different from anything I’ve ever done before, and experiencing it as an intern has pushed me to think differently, work differently, and stretch as a writer. I’m really excited to see what I accomplish and how much I learn.

Want to learn more about the team supporting our Interns and University Grads? Check out our teams page here.

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