Jobs: Arden Hoffman, VP and global head of people at Dropbox
Arden Hoffman, VP and global head of people at Dropbox. Image: Luke Maxwell

Do you have what it takes to make it in tech?

18 Jul 2016

The tech sector. That streets paved with gold, dream big, anything is possible sector. That sector everyone wants to be in. But do you have what it takes?

The tech sector is huge. It’s worth billions upon billions, the opportunities are endless and the salaries are enticing, to say the least. More than that, it just keeps growing. And, because of that, there are far more jobs than there are people to fill them.

You might already know that. You might be thinking that, with all of that good stuff, the tech sector is right for you. But are you right for it? Do you have the necessary skills? Even more important, do you have the necessary personality?

“Tech attracts people who are interested more in taking risk, who are more curious about things that are changing and moving,” says Arden Hoffman, VP and global head of people at Dropbox.

“And I think if someone is more traditional in nature and likes a very structured work environment with a very clear path, tech is probably not the right place.”

Hoffman cites the fluid nature of tech as the main reason behind that. A company can be wildly successful one day and drop off the face of the Earth the next. A person who can’t deal with that intrinsic uncertainty perhaps won’t last long in the sector.

That said, it is perhaps a little easier to get into tech than it was before, and the range of jobs is more diverse, so an interested person could easily find their niche.

Speaking about how the tech sector looked 20 years ago, Hoffman remembers very different aims. “It was far more focused on women in the workplace, and it was far more focused on moms coming back to the workplace,” she said.

She points to the diversification of society as the driving force behind the diversification of the workplace: “That’s really changed the focus of what companies look like; what they want to look like.”

There is also, she says, a push towards faster career growth. This tallies with industry-wide trends – and, indeed, trends outside tech – that see us moving away from a job-for-life mentality. This is something Dropbox relishes, to a certain extent.

“When you hire great, motivated, very highly functioning people, they want career growth and they want to move quickly,” said Hoffman. “And that’s a good thing of having people [like that]. Those are the people you want to recruit. [It] might mean you lose them later, but you actually want them in your company.”

So, does Hoffman have any advice for those interested in tech careers? First and foremost, “be passionate and love your craft”. More specifically, however, do your research.

“If you really want [to work at] a company, do your homework on that company, and actually look at the culture of that company,” she advised. “If you can convince us that you want to come work for us, that’s really valuable to us.”

Looking for jobs in tech or science? Check out our Featured Employers section for information on companies hiring right now.

Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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