Dropbox Engineering Career Framework

IC4 Software Engineer

I autonomously deliver ongoing business impact across a team, product capability, or technical system

Scope Area of ownership and level of autonomy / ambiguity

  • I own and deliver semi-annual/annual goals for my team.
  • I am an expert at identifying the right solutions to solve ambiguous, open-ended problems that require tough prioritization.
  • I define technical solutions or efficient operational processes that level up my team.

Collaborative Reach Organizational reach and extent of influence

  • I am a strong leader for my team with my impact beginning to extend outside my team
  • I increasingly optimize beyond just my team by driving cross-team or cross-discipline initiatives

Impact Levers Technical levers typically exercised to achieve business impact

  • Technical Strategy - I play a key role in setting medium-to-long term strategy for business-impacting projects.
  • Project Leadership - I autonomously define and deliver technical roadmaps of larger projects, often involving cross-team dependencies.
  • Product Expertise - I actively keep customer needs in mind and leverage input from product stakeholders as available to determine the right technical solutions to deliver customer value quickly
  • Mentorship - I actively level up less-experienced members of my team by helping them with their craft, providing guidance, and setting a good example

Core Responsibilities

🏆 Results


  • I deliver many of my team’s goals on time and with a high standard of quality
  • My understanding of the business context and my team’s goals enable me to have the greatest customer impact and allows me to make independent technical decisions in the face of open-ended requirements
  • I can identify when my results aren’t moving the needle for our business/team goals or serving the needs of customers in a meaningful way and work with manager to redirect my focus
  • I get work to a simple place by focusing on the heart of the problem and prioritizing the right things
  • I improve how our team measures and communicates customer impact


  • I proactively identify new opportunities and advocate for and implement improvements to the current state of projects — potentially having broader business impact across teams or products
  • I take responsibility for my decisions and mistakes on my project and take action to prevent them in the future. I embrace and share the learnings with others
  • When I encounter barriers, I unblock myself and my team by proactively assessing and eliminating the root cause, and focusing on the solutions
  • I respond with urgency, and drive urgency in my team to operational issues (e.g., SEVs), owning resolution within my sphere of responsibility
  • I actively seek out and eliminate sources of toil on the team and help reduce the impact of KTLO and SEVs
  • I am unafraid of declaring a SEV when needed
  • I proactively create and/or update playbooks for components I own

Decision Making

  • I make informed decisions by having productive debate with the right stakeholders, seeking diverse perspectives, balancing details with the big picture, and optimizing for the company
  • I understand the implications of my decisions and adjust my approach based on the impact and risk (e.g. choosing a more iterative approach based on the degree of uncertainty with respect to product fit, while maintaining a view of the long term arc needed to accomplish business goals)
  • I leverage insights about customers to inform decisions, balancing value for the customer with other business goals
  • I make timely decisions and don’t cut corners that would compromise my customer’s trust

🌟 Direction


  • I embrace change and adapt quickly to it
  • I remain resilient through change by staying calm under pressure and taking care of my well-being
  • I navigate ambiguity by focusing on the greater purpose, goals, and desired impact to move forward one step at a time


  • I have a growth mindset and am comfortable experimenting with new approaches, learning, owning the outcomes, and sharing what I learned
  • I set audacious goals, take risks, and share lessons learned
  • I am beginning to push boundaries using industry best practices and customer feedback to implement strategies that drive our products, tools, or services forward


  • I define the technical roadmap for impactful multi-phase projects, refining it as the projects progress to deliver customer value quickly, and provide leadership for the people executing on the project
  • In partnership with my manager I define my team's priorities and secure buy-in by engaging stakeholders, and aligning with company priorities and customer needs
  • I generate excitement for my/the team's strategy

🌳 Talent

Personal Growth

  • I proactively ask for feedback from my manager, team, and cross-functional stakeholders. I know my strengths, and identify ways to take actions on my development areas
  • I have self-awareness and connect with others with empathy
  • I drive discussions with my manager about aspirational goals and seek out opportunities to learn and grow (e.g., PGP, Dropbox-offered training, leveraging perks allowance etc.)

Team Development

  • I model integrity and a high standard of excellence for my work. I leverage this to set and hold the bar for quality and best practices for my team (e.g. via code and design reviews)
  • I identify and support areas of growth for my teammates that take into account their unique skills, strengths, backgrounds and working styles
  • I solicit and offer honest, constructive, direct, and actionable feedback that is delivered with empathy to help others learn and grow into the next level
  • I actively contribute to interviewing, and gain the trust of candidates and can represent Dropbox's mission, strategy, and culture throughout the interview process
  • I am able to represent my team’s technical challenges to potential candidates in a compelling way (e.g. 1:1 sell chats, blog posts, public speaking)

🌈 Culture


  • I promote and role model Dropbox core values, leading by example
  • I build relationships and drive coordination across teams & disciplines, helping get to positive outcomes
  • I proactively communicate and coordinate my team’s requirements with other groups and teams in engineering
  • I am effective at working with cross-functional stakeholders to identify technical blindspots and clarify ambiguity in their ideas.
  • I engage in productive conflict with thoughtful questioning and have the courage to state my point of view
  • I avoid blame and solve the right problems, disagreeing and committing when necessary to move decisions forward

Organizational Health

  • Working with my manager, I leverage the unique strengths & skills of the members of my team, and help identify talent gaps required for team success
  • I enable others to bring their authentic selves at work and contribute to building community at Dropbox
  • I ensure diverse perspectives are included, leveraging inclusive meeting practices
  • I practice the Dropbox Diversity Commitments on a regular basis
  • I champion good virtual first practices that help my team collaborate effectively
  • I help shape the Dropbox engineering culture through my involvement with activities outside of my team (e.g. presenting tech talks, participating in Eng RFCs, creating interview questions, planning hackweek)


  • I communicate with clarity, brevity, focus, and tailor my message to my audience presenting it at the right altitude
  • I proactively share information so the relevant stakeholders are informed and aligned
  • I seek to listen and understand others
  • I am effective in holding crucial conversations even when uncomfortable
  • I influence stakeholders across a variety of audiences

Culture Leader

  • I act as a partner to my manager in setting the cultural tone for the team. I support an environment of psychological safety where all Dropboxers are included and heard to support connection, empathy, and productive conflict where dissenting opinions are valued and addressed
  • I help my team network and build relationships across Dropbox, creating connection and inclusion across my team and with other teams

🦉 Craft

Code Fluency

  • The expectations for L3 code fluency are still applicable here (though some specialist engineers may go deep in this area)
  • I look for ways to simplify code and infrastructure. I prioritize tasks that lead to lower system and infrastructure maintenance and migration costs with meaningful and measurable impact.
  • I can find ways to improve developer efficiency as measured by cycle time, ramp-up time, or other similar measurements.
  • I preemptively identify and resolve technical risks before they jeopardize the project. I resolve cross-team dependencies earlier to ensure the successful execution of the project.
  • I avoid re-inventing the wheel by leveraging other Dropbox solutions or off-the-shelf solutions with the possible trade-off in mind. I write libraries and modules that can be extended and adopted by other teams at Dropbox to increase their efficiency.

Software Design

  • I am responsible for designing the software or systems required in my area of ownership and ensuring that they meet their design objectives.
  • I am able to give quality feedback on designs written by other members of my team, asking probing, insightful questions that solidify choices and surface erroneous assumptions
  • I effectively and quickly debug cross-module issues, and may intuit where bugs might lie due to my deep knowledge of the libraries, platforms, and systems that my software relies on

Architecture Design

  • I’m able to create coherent designs with multiple components interacting across API or system boundaries; bugs do not creep in at the boundaries between components due to mismatches in expectations of what is technically feasible
  • I’m capable of rolling out a component or major feature (and deprecating an existing system or feature) reliably - including appropriate monitoring, paging, etc are in place, and that failure domains are understood and characterized appropriately before large scale rollout. For early stage products, I am able to roll out with an eye toward achieving learning goals untainted by poor quality.
  • I avoid introducing toil and future maintenace work by proactively avoiding scaling issues and providing adequate documentation.
  • I design clear success metrics and achieve those metrics consistently post-launch through the lifetime of the system or feature. For early stage products, those success metrics may be oriented around learning goals rather than usage goals, given the inherent unpredictability of achieving product/market fit.

Technical Strategy

  • I’m responsible for alignment of the software and systems in my team to overall technical strategy, making tradeoffs where appropriate in consultation with staff engineers

Business Acumen

  • I engage in listening sessions (All Hands, Quarterly Business Updates, etc.) to increase my learning and guide my work/priorities
  • I have a working knowledge of Dropbox’s org/team structure and how teams work together across Dropbox, and am able to help my team effectively collaborate effectively with other teams across our org