Impact Meets Opportunity: What it Means to Evolve as an Engineer at Dropbox

Two machine learning engineers share how far they’ve come on their career journeys — and how Dropbox is guiding them further on their paths toward evolution.
Written by Olivia McClure
March 28, 2024Updated: April 8, 2024

When Win Suen was an undergraduate student, sifting through fifteenth-century Venetian diplomatic manuscripts in the name of archival research, the thought of pursuing a tech career wasn’t exactly top of mind. 

Yet just a few years later, that’s exactly where she found herself. After graduation, Suen joined an edtech startup, where she learned something about herself that would ultimately put her on a path toward success in tech. 

“I discovered that I loved solving hard technical problems,” she said. “There’s something thrilling about looking at a new problem that you have no idea how to solve in the beginning and having the chance to develop a novel solution.”

Since joining Dropbox, Suen has further cultivated this humanities-born curiosity, leading her to her current position as senior machine learning engineer. Over the course of her career at the global collaboration platform, she has found different ways to foster her love for learning, buoyed by a culture that promotes peer-to-peer support and experimentation. 

Suen isn’t alone in her evolutionary journey at Dropbox. While Simran Jumani never studied centuries-old documents at a higher level — she holds a master’s degree in computer science — she has had the chance to elevate her technological knowledge as a machine learning engineer at the company. 

Jumani has benefited from many of Dropbox’ growth resources, such as its mentorship program and AI reading group, but she considers her peers to be her greatest source of understanding. 

“Working with such talented colleagues means I’m constantly learning and improving my skills, which helps me grow naturally,” she shared. “It also motivates me to give my best effort every day at work.”

For Suen and Jumani, every day at Dropbox is a new opportunity to become the best version of themselves, whether that involves toying with a new piece of technology or helping an upcoming technologist find their footing in the industry. Read on to learn how the two engineers have found space to thrive at the company, how they find inspiration in each other and how they pay it forward. 

 

Dropbox team members seated with laptops chatting with each other in office next to window with aerial view of city
Dropbox

 

 

Immediate Impact, Endless Support

To characterize Suen as a “self-starter” would be an understatement. 

She taught herself how to leverage Python through books and side projects, building the technical chops needed to develop anti-fraud data science applications at a previous employer. So when Suen joined Dropbox, she had one major question on her mind: “Will the work be challenging and exciting enough for me?”

Luckily, she soon discovered that it was. “With the new directions Dropbox is taking with AI and machine learning, there are interesting problems to solve for both existing and new products,” Suen said. 

With the new directions Dropbox is taking with AI and machine learning, there are interesting problems to solve for both existing and new products.”

 

A focus on continuous discovery defines Dropbox’s engineering culture, informing the ways in which team members transform the company’s products — and themselves. Suen explained that the company offers resources that enable engineers to pursue their career aspirations, such as a personal growth plan, which allows employees to reflect on their ambitions, set concrete goals and garner feedback.

“I’ve found it to be a very reflective and collaborative exercise,” she said. 

Aside from this helpful resource, engineers also have access to an engineering career framework, offering them insight into the work and experience needed to transition into different roles. According to Suen, this enables engineers to effectively shape their goals in such a way that aligns with where they want to go professionally. 

But growth at Dropbox isn’t just about having the right resources. Suen noted that every project she tackles teaches her something new, which she’s able to share with her peers or apply to future work. 

For example, when Suen was recently researching how to safely leverage large language models for retrieval problems, there was a moment when she looked at the entire flow of open-source software, models and deployment frameworks and realized that, through her work on various projects, she was the person who had added these technologies into Dropbox’s toolkit, enabling her peers to use them, as well.

“All of the tools were novel, and it felt great to be able to learn and make an impact in such an immediate way,” she said.

Since joining Dropbox, Suen has been able to contribute to critical work — she even described committing feature code during her first week on the job. And now, as both a senior engineer and a mentor through the company’s internship program, she gets to help others do the same, enabling them to get into the technical weeds. 

“It’s very rewarding to be able to help others early on in their careers, just as others once helped me,” Suen said. 

For Suen, being an engineer at Dropbox is about more than shipping great products — although she considers this an important aspect of the job. Rather, it’s the people she gets to work alongside and support who have made her time at the company an unforgettable chapter in her growth journey. 

“I work every day with an exceptional group of people who I can learn from and grow with,” Suen said. “Throughout my years at the company, my peers have taught me so much that I couldn’t have learned elsewhere.”

 

Two images of Win Suen working with teammates, one on her laptop and another near a whiteboard.
Dropbox

 

Never Complacent, Always Evolving

“I firmly believe in avoiding complacency,” Jumani said. 

She described seeing her professional growth journey as a dynamic, winding path, filled with challenging pit stops — and lots of AI and machine learning. Her time at Dropbox has given her access to just that, as she has worked on a variety of ML-powered features focused on recommendations and editing. 

But it’s not just cutting-edge projects that have helped Jumani achieve her engineering ambitions. She has benefited greatly from a variety of Dropbox’s growth-focused initiatives, including a cohort-based learning program that focuses on soft skills, resilience, productivity and prioritization. 

The company’s AI reading groups and tech deep dives have also catalyzed Jumani’s development. These initiatives allow team members to present on topics and learn from their peers, enabling everyone to stay up to date on emerging tech trends and methodologies. 

For Jumani, perhaps the most impactful growth opportunity Dropbox offers is Hack Week, during which employees from all departments collaborate on projects that stretch beyond their day-to-day responsibilities. 

“During Hack Week, I had the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, leveraging our unique strengths and interests to contribute to exciting projects,” she said. “I spent time experimenting with summarization features and AI agents, adding to my skill set and broadening my knowledge base in the process.”

All of these initiatives reflect a commitment to continuous learning, guiding the ways in which Jumani and her peers pursue their career goals. Inspired by this educational fervor, she has immersed herself in projects that expand her knowledge, which she considers a precursor of what’s to come. 

“My next challenge is focused on implementing efficient machine learning features, with a keen eye on improving latency and performance while maintaining quality,” Jumani said. 

My next challenge is focused on implementing efficient machine learning features, with a keen eye on improving latency and performance while maintaining quality.”

 

Jumani’s tenure at Dropbox has offered her countless opportunities to build her technical acumen and learn from other experts in her field, applying their expertise to both current and future tasks. In short, her experience at the company so far has been nothing short of formative, setting her up for a thriving professional future. 

“When I look back, I can see how working at Dropbox has positively impacted me,” she said. 

 

 

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