Everything you need to know, from acing the application to receiving a return offer.
Amazon is one of the most well-known companies in the world. Beyond being the third most recognized brand globally, it is an e-commerce, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing giant. With a massive presence and a constant need for innovation, it's no wonder that top tech talent flocks to Amazon year after year.
One of the most common paths into the company is via Amazon's extensive internship program. Ranked as the 5th Most Prestigious Internship by Vault.com, the Amazon program offers opportunities to students interested in software engineering, data science, product management, human resources, sales, and much more.
To land one of these coveted internship opportunities, you need to be incredibly well-prepared. Here's everything you need to know about breaking into this tech giant.
Amazon interns work on a variety of teams, from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to devices to digital entertainment. If you're more interested in team-specific opportunities, learn about what each team does and search for internships within that realm.
If you have your eye on a specific role, like software development or operations, you're probably in luck. Amazon offers summer internships in dozens of fields. They generally differentiate between technical and non technical roles, with a variety of options in each category. Popular programs include...
...and many more.
Before applying, take a deep dive into amazon.jobs and learn about all of the opportunities available. Select one program to target. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the job description, requirements, and application due date so you can adequately prepare for the process.
Since Amazon offers so many student programs, it's no surprise that they're all on different recruiting timelines. Depending on the role and your university, summer applications could be due nearly any time of year.
Therefore, keep an eye on the deadline. How do you figure out what it is?
Once you know the deadline, you can formulate a timeline for application and interview prep.
Unlike Google, Microsoft, and many other large companies, Amazon does not allow applicants to submit cover letters. Therefore, the fate of your application will rest upon your resume. It's extra important to make sure this is updated, well formatted, and impressive before sending it in. Here are a few tips:
👉 For more tips on crafting the perfect resume, check out this link.
Even if you're applying through a university career site, there's a strong chance that a recruiter or hiring manager will check out your social media. As the most popular professional networking site, LinkedIn will be a natural choice.
Ensure that your profile is up-to-date, fully filled out, and well composed. Your education and work experience are important, as is an eye catching summary. For extensive advice on how to improve your LinkedIn profile, visit this link.
Additionally, be sure you have a well-lit, professional-grade headshot as your profile picture. You don't need to hire a photographer for this process. As a matter of fact, you can do it at home. To learn how, visit this link.
Amazon doesn't require a 4.0 GPA or a top-tier university degree. Rather, they look for students who are driven, passionate, and ready to grow. More specifically, these qualities include...
The Amazon internship application is relatively straightforward. Since the company does not accept cover letters, your resume will be your most important asset.
In addition to uploading a resume, you will be asked to provide basic information (address, email, phone number, etc). Depending on the position, you may be asked some supplemental/clarifying questions about your experience.
You may be asked to select a preferred location. Depending on the program, your options will vary. However, in the United States, some of the most popular offices include New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, San Diego, and the Seattle headquarters.
Since Amazon receives so may resumes, they are not able to respond to every application. Therefore, you will only hear from the company if they liked your application and want to move you on to the next phase.
Behavioral questions come in a number of forms, but you might recognize them as those that start with "tell me about a time when you...."
Although they may seem annoying, these types of questions are asked to everyone, even those interviewing for technical roles. They help Amazon get a better understanding of your background, values, and workplace behavior. In other words, they assess what kind of employee you'll be.
Considering the weight that these questions carry, it's essential that you know how to answer them. Amazon recommends that interviewees use the STAR method to structure their responses. Talk about the...
Situation: Talk through the context relevant to your story
Task: State your responsibility or challenge in this situation
Action: Walk through the steps you took to accomplish the task
Result: Discuss the outcomes of your actions, such as impact, lessons learned, etc
👉 Learn more about Amazon behavioral interview questions in this article
Practicing the right questions is important. The article above provides some valuable insight for behaviorals, but what about technical questions? Amazon has an entire webpage dedicated to software development topics that might be covered during the interview.
In addition to practicing the right questions, practice your communication skills. Interviewers look for confidence, structured thinking, and clear problem solving ability. They also look for data-driven answers and an intimate knowledge of Amazon's leadership principles (which we'll cover soon). To practice your interview skills, try mock interviewing with a friend in the industry. Or, sign up for a mock interview with Candor, where someone familiar with the field can give you valuable feedback.
Amazon's culture is largely based upon their 14 leadership principles, which interns and senior leaders alike are expected to live and breathe. The paramount principle is "customer centricity", which essentially means that every product, service, and evolution of Amazon technology is done for the customers.
Each of the 14 principles will apply to your role, so it's important to know them all. However, be sure to pick a couple of favorites, both in terms of principle (i.e. what you like the most) and applicability to your career path. Learn about each of the principles here.
Another cultural element Amazon relishes is "peculiarity". They consider themselves a unique company with nontraditional processes, and they want to hire people who stand out. Therefore, be prepared to answer the question "What is peculiar about you?" In other words, what do you bring to the table that other people don't?
If you make it through the application, there are only a few more steps standing between you and an offer.
These are completed virtually and on a tight deadline. For some roles, the assessment is sent alongside the application. For others, it is the next step before you can speak to an Amazonian in real-time. According to Amazon, these are designed to "get to know you better" and "measure key characteristics required for success in a role." There are two types of assessments you may be asked to complete:
Work Style Assessment (10-20 mins): During this time, you will be expected to choose statements that represent your work style. Understand Amazon's culture and leadership principles before diving into these assessments, for these are the themes Amazon is looking for. On their website, Amazon gives the following sample question:
"For instance, we may ask you which of the two statements "I like for things to be clearly structured,” or “I look forward to the opportunity to learn new things," best describes you."
Work Sample Simulation (20-60 mins): These are specific tasks, related to the role for which you are applying. They may ask you to make business decisions or demonstrate skills that would be critical to your success at the company.
No advance preparation is required (or recommended) for most roles. There's only one exception listed: software development engineer interns should be familiar with this list of topics.
✔️ Next Steps: If you are selected for an interview, you will be notified via email. Whether you're selected or rejected, your status will appear in the application portal.
Some positions will only have one phone interview (typically with HR), while others will have two (one with HR, one with a member of their perspective team). Depending on the role, this interview may consist of behavioral, technical, and role-specific exercises (which you will be notified of pre-interview).
For those answering behavioral questions, be sure to follow the tips outlined in the interview prep section above.
For SDE interviewees, expect...
✔️ Next Steps: After this interview round, you should hear back relatively quickly-- Amazon tries to get back to candidates within 2 days.
On date of writing, Amazon's interview process is still digital due to Covid-19. Under normal circumstances, however, this final round would take place at one of Amazon's offices.
Depending on the position you're interviewing for, each experience will be structured a little differently. Every role will encounter some behavioral questions surrounding Amazon's leadership principles, your background and skillset, and growth potential within the organization.
Technical interviewees should be prepared for role-specific exercises, and will likely be asked to whiteboard during the in person interview. Refer to the software development topics (also applicable for other tech roles, like machine learning) or additional guides Amazon provides before the final round. If you'll be expected to complete a role-specific exercise, you will be notified before the interview.
Throughout the day, you may speak with potential teammates, managers, HR representatives and more. However, you will always speak with a "bar raiser". This Amazon employee is trained to be objective and very well-versed in the art of interviewing. They are instructed to determine whether you will stick to current best practices, or innovate and "raise the bar" on company performance.
Although you may not know who this interviewer is, they are typically one of the last people you speak to. They will focus heavily on Amazon's leadership principles and assess your user empathy, company passion, and capacity for big-picture thinking.
✔️ Next Steps: After the final round, Amazon hopes to reach out to candidates within 5 days regarding their application status.
Behind the scenes, a committee will decide your offer status. Interviewers have quite a bit of sway and each of them will be taking notes throughout your time together (so they can exchange thoughts later). If you impressed the interviewers, particularly the bar raiser, you're on the right track to an offer.
If you get one, you're in luck. Amazon has one of the highest paid internship programs in the country. According to a 2019 Glassdoor Report, Amazon interns are the second highest paid, with a median monthly salary of $7,725.
Interns are responsible for their projects from start to finish, and they will likely wrap up near the end of the summer. Intern projects vary by team and program, but the consensus is that they are meaningful overall and have a real impact on the organization. Amazon provides the following examples on their website:
"Our interns have been involved in projects like writing customer-facing content on the Echo devices, launching Prime pricing, creating real-time feedback systems for our hourly employees, identifying and implementing ways to improve our fulfillment process, and building new features on amazon.com."
Although your experience is largely unpredictable, there are a few things that tie interns together:
👉 Would you fit into Amazon's culture? Find out here.
In addition to a top-notch professional experience, all of your needs, from housing to food to transportation, will be met. However, don't expect the range of perks that other FAANG companies provide. For example, free meals won't be a staple of your day-to-day experience-- you'll only receive them at intern events. In office gyms, whirlwind trips around the world, and over-the-top outings are probably off the table too.
The perks that are offered are oriented around professional development. The aforementioned self service resources are always available, as well as a number of team meals, in-person socials, and networking events. One ex-intern cites "speed networking" and a "women's lunch" as excellent opportunities to meet other employees.
According to Amazon employees on TeamBlind, getting a return offer isn't all that difficult. Some say that 50-60% of interns are offered a full-time role, while others are certain that it's as high as 90%.
Despite this, many interns choose to follow their own path instead. Some go on to work for other tech giants, like Google or Facebook. Others may go the Fortune 500 route, pursue an elite startup, or opt to start their own company.
Regardless of what you choose, an internship at Amazon is an excellent jumping off point for many careers. This well-known company will provide plenty of chances for professional growth, and open doors to prestigious opportunities elsewhere.
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