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The Diary of An Ex-Amazon Intern

An Amazonian tells us what it’s like interning for one of the hottest companies on the planet.

The Diary of An Ex-Amazon Intern
[Photo: 22kay22/iStock]

It’s been 23 years since Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com and in that time the company has come to dominate almost every industry it’s dipped its toes in. First it was books, then general e-commerce. After that came the world’s most popular e-reader, the Kindle, followed by music and video streaming services, original content, web hosting, smart home technology like the Echo, and most recently, groceries, with its takeover of Whole Foods. Considering all that, it’s no wonder why Fast Company chose Amazon as the World’s Most Innovative Company of 2017.

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It’s also no wonder why Amazon is one of the hottest companies on the planet for people looking for internships. The sheer variety of the industries the company covers means that Amazon most likely offers a career in your chosen field—no matter what that is. For Lucia Magot, a final year business and management student in the U.K., her field is project management, and she managed to snag a coveted internship at Amazon doing just that. Here’s what her experience was like.

On Her Internship Role At Amazon

I was a recruitment intern within the Operations team and I was located in the London office. I was later informed I was one of the youngest hires within Amazon Europe.

As part of my 4-year undergraduate program in the U.K., I was required to complete a “placement year” (internship year) in my third year of studies; which I started in London followed by Miami, Singapore, and Lima. My last and fifth internship of this placement year was with Amazon, which I undertook at the age of 21. My internship started in the summer of 2016.

On How She Found Out About The Amazon Internship

From a young age, I have always been passionate about business and technology. I have stayed up to date about where to find internship opportunities within leading tech companies before I started college. I would often check the job boards of these companies, and make spreadsheets of the best opportunities I found suited for my professional goals.

I found the recruitment position opening on the Amazon Job portal in 2015. My main experiences within business and tech lies in product management, marketing and consulting. However, I applied to this specific role because I wanted to learn how a top company like Amazon hires the best talent in today’s global marketplace.

On The Interview Process With Amazon

The process for applying for internships at Amazon consists of the following steps:

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  1. Upload CV and cover letters to the role of your interest
  2. Complete the online numerical and reasoning-assessment test Amazon will send you via email. It will take you about an hour to complete (if successful, applicants will be contacted for a first phone interview)
  3. First HR phone interview (around 30 minutes)
  4. Second phone interview with members of your team (around 30 minutes)
  5. In-person assessment center
  6. Email confirmation if successful

I would suggest all applicants prepare by carefully reviewing the role, responsibilities and what qualities they have demonstrated in previous professional experiences that can back up or show that they can get the job done. I made over 40 flashcards with that information and practiced my answers with friends.

On The Qualities That Helped Her Score An Amazon Internship

Amazon is looking to hire professionals who exemplify the 14 leadership principles that the organization is based upon. During one of my weekly one-to-one meetings with my manager, he told me he knew he wanted to work with me from the moment we concluded our first phone interview. I think my enthusiasm for the company, which he could detect from the energy in my voice and the unique questions I had for him, were key factors on his decision.

A lot of the questions I was asked were based around examples from my professional and academic life that demonstrated that I was a doer and that I had strong business judgment and a sensibility for ensuring customer satisfaction.

During my internship, I discovered that all Amazonians share certain traits such as being data driven, big thinkers, and proven leaders. Innovation is a key component within the Amazon culture so staying curious about how things work and how they can be improved are qualities they look for in new hires.

On The Average Workday Of An Amazon Intern

Amazon’s fast-paced environment and culture is unique and no day is ever the same. It requires employees that adapt to change, work well under pressure and who are malleable. I constantly heard employees saying “it’s only Day 1 at Amazon”, which creates an indescribable energy in the work environment. You believe the best is yet to come and that you can contribute to the company’s future success.

Throughout my internship, I was responsible for a continuous improvement project related to how Amazon hired new engineers and IT professionals. Therefore, my days consisted of setting up meetings with the teams responsible for acquiring new talent and analyzing their recruitment process while creating suggestions on how they could improve it.

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Additionally, I analyzed data from surveys completed by previous hires and other sources in order to understand the specific areas of improvement within my department. Apart from this, my days also revolved around research, scouting technology tools that could make the processes more efficient, and creating meetings with different teams in order to foment synergies in the future.

At the end of my internship, I had to present my project findings and recommendations to senior-level executives. Amazonians across the board were incredibly supportive and accessible throughout my project advancement. From start to finish, I knew I could count on them to answer questions, no matter how trivial they seemed to me. Before my final presentation, my mentor and colleagues from different teams volunteered to listen to my presentation and offered me insightful feedback.

Although the typical schedule was from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I often found myself staying later not because I was told to, but because I wanted to benefit from the multiple online training courses available to Amazonians. Other perks that employees and interns can benefit from include yoga classes during lunch and social and professional development opportunities organized by Amazonians like speed networking, women’s lunch, and Amazon fashion tours.

On Some Of Her Best Experiences As An Amazon Intern

One of my main objectives as an intern was to learn how I could make connections between different teams in order to make our work more efficient. I scheduled meetings with at least five employees each week from different areas of the company to learn about their roles and how they got there. These meetings provided me with insights into how Amazon operated as an institution and was pivotal to my understanding of the company’s vision.

One of the most memorable anecdotes occurred during a professional development event, where I was able to meet and talk to Mr. Douglas Gurr, U.K. Country Manager at Amazon. The fact that an intern could ask him questions and have him willingly stay after to answer is a testament of the type of organization Amazon is. No question is a bad question and everyone’s comments are welcomed in their open environment. None of this would have been possible without the support from my Manager, who enthusiastically empowered me to go after my networking goals.

On Whether Amazon Could Improve Its Internship Experience

This internship has been one of the most enriching experiences in my life and I wouldn’t have changed anything. At Amazon, I was involved in meaningful work and my initiatives were treated as valuable contributions to the company. Amazon has instilled in me certain principles that I will take wherever I go. For example, I have learned the method of working backward, which puts the customer needs above anything else. This method must be shown in every discussion, paper or presentation put forward.

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On my last day, my team presented me with a jumbo-size present filled with hand-selected gifts and handwritten cards signed by all my colleagues. Afterward, I was treated to a wonderful farewell party. My time at Amazon showed me that within a top tech company you can find warmth and a wealth of gratitude, too.

On The Lasting Benefits Of An Amazon Internship

Amazon allowed me to build a set of skills such as data analysis, report writing and presentation skills; which I took forward into my final year of University. Thanks to my enhanced skills and work ethic, I have received multiple job offers from top tech firms and consulting companies.

My time at Amazon allowed me to develop and cultivate relationships with an army of mentors within the tech sector, who I remain in contact with today. I got the opportunity to see firsthand that there was a vacuum of talent in the tech sector and therefore I am now working on a project that will share with university students in the UK and Latin America the multiple opportunities that exist within this field.

Amazon taught me that to build a new and better business you must welcome and celebrate experimentation.

On What Others Could Do To Land An Internship At Amazon

Read Jeff Bezos’s letters to shareholders letters since 1997 to get a glimpse of the culture and if you are a right fit for the company. Know your worth and where you can add value.

Learn the 14 leadership principles and recollect anecdotes from your academic and professional experience to support each of these.

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Be proud of your diversity. I am a Peruvian woman and when I considered applying, many told me I was being too ambitious and I think if you never try, you will never know. At Amazon, I met people from all walks of life and I’ve concluded that the company celebrates and looks for authenticity and diversity within applicants. Don’t be afraid to fail and apply.