Get hired by Google, Facebook, Dropbox, or Zipline.
Success! I started at Dropbox in August 2020 as a “Senior Full-Stack Software Engineer”.
I’m no longer updating this project, but leaving here for reference.
(most recent first)
I’ve worked at Dropbox for 1.5 years, with the last year being fully remote.
- I got promoted to Engineering Manager (4 direct reports)
- The work is decently interesting (if you squint)
- I got a small raise (and the stock is going up)
- No kitchen (I have my own)
- No coffee (I make my own)
- No gym (I have my own)
- No swanky downtown office space
- No giant pusheen cats
- They laid off my team’s most talented engineer
The work-life balance is good – I’m still earning and learning.
But I’m no longer considering this a personal project. I’ve got the job, got promoted, and frankly I want to think less about work after-hours.
I’ve worked at Dropbox for 5 months, and it’s great.
- The food & baristas are truly incredible
- The work-life balance is amazing
- They increased paternity leave to 6 months, and I’ve been encouraged to take the full leave
- My soul hasn’t died like I thought it would.
- I was able to buy a house close to downtown Austin.
I’m spending more time tweaking 3rd-party configuration settings than I’d like, but the work is mostly interesting. I’ve shipped a chatbot & lots of small features that incrementally improve our customer support experience (for both customers & agents). I’ve been able to mentor others & learn new things about impacting change in a larger org. There has been some leadership turnover, but that’s pretty normal post-IPO, and none of it has affected me yet.
There are only 6 total engineers in Austin, and the other 200-ish people are sales & support. I’ve already been to SF twice & Vegas once… hopefully I’ll get to Dublin soon! But my co-workers are all interesting people who I enjoy seeing daily-ish, which is a blessing!
It’s been quite a month! I got a job at Dropbox, here’s how it went:
- Callback from 3 / 4 companies
- Passed all 3 phone screens
- Failed 1 on-site interview
- Policy-change by 1 company (no more engineers in Austin)
- Accepted the only real job offer
Overall, I didn’t love the interview process, but I learned a lot about all of these companies, and I can’t think of a better process that would work at scale. It never felt unfair – at the very worst, it’s at least fair in the Thanos sense! But really, even though I was upset after receiving one “thanks, but no thanks” call, I’m pretty happy about how things turned out. I got good vibes & a great offer from Dropbox, so that’s where I now work!!
I want a great job, here’s my process:
- Secure Internal Referrals when possible
- 1 LeetCode problem per day, record / review myself solving it
- Skim CLRS Intro to Algorithms
- Read Cracking the Coding Interview
The studying is more necessary for FB / Google / Dropbox, as they want to remove bias as they screen LOTS of engineering candidates each year. They’re actually more concerned with false-positives (accidentally hiring someone mediocre) than with false-negatives (passing on a good candidate). So, they ask more classic computer-science algorithm questions, which are slightly more standardized than typical platform-specific interviews, but unfortunately most people don’t deal with classic algorithms much after school… so, it’s time to study!
I hope to start the phone-screens in July.
Why Not Another Early-Stage Startup?
I want to re-train myself to think deeply & solve difficult problems, at scale, in a sustainable way.
It wasn’t an easy decision, because I loved working at startups & learned a broad spectrum of things by taking on responsibilities far outside the range of a typical engineer.
I’m also eager to surround myself with world-class engineers, learn the skills needed to impact change within a large organization, and grow my personal network. I hope the network will improve my access to better CoFounders, Investors, Clients, and Engineering Recruits for my next venture 5-10 years from now.
Why These 4?
Facebook, Dropbox, and Google are recognizable brand-names that most people associate with a good engineering culture. They work on difficult problems at scale & offer a decent work/life balance.
Zipline is sort-of a wildcard, but it’s just such an interesting company, and I would get to travel to Rwanda & work on a real problem at a point where I could make a significant impact. I think drone technology will be very important in years to come, and the one engineer I know there is certainly world-class. I would just learn so much!
I have only just begun the application process at these companies, and I’m not guaranteed an offer at any of them. In fact, there is a lot of variability in the hiring process at these places… 🤞🏼
I’m VERY GLAD that I interviewed at multiple places. My take-aways:
- Interview lots of places (more than 3)
- Be patient (process can take months)
- Stuuuuudy (mostly LeetCode, some CTCI & CLRS)
- Do mock interviews with people who actually do interviews at these companies, and solicit CRITICAL feedback.
- Film yourself solving problems “out-loud”, and prepare for the cringe as you play it back.
- RELAX. The best interviews were strongly correlated with the least nerves on my part.
- Before coding a solution, talk it to death. Explain the crap out of the solution, until you feel like a broken record, THEN solve it.
- State simple truths during the interviews, don’t assume anything is obvious or given – this was actually a challenge for me during practice.
- Don’t try to put on a big show of professionalism – I performed every interview in jeans & a T-Shirt, and smiled / laughed at some questions.
- When you receive an offer, DO NOT accept it immediately, but DO be genuinely excited about it. All deadlines from recruiters are imaginary, and they act like used-car salespeople whenever you discuss numbers (let me check with X department, I got these numbers from Y, they don’t change, etc…). You won’t lose a good offer by asking for more, ESPECIALLY if you ask with the right attitude.