Amazon is hiring for its retail & services undergraduate programs! Login to CareerCat to apply. Learn more at Amazon’s information session next Thursday, Oct. 3 from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. in Tech, L251 (check CareerCat the day of the presentation to confirm time & location).
Describe your role with Amazon. How long have you worked with the company?
I’ve worked at Amazon for almost two months now as a Brand Specialist on the Tools & Home Improvement team. I manage Amazon’s relationship with two vendors, a top-tier power tools manufacturer and a top-tier ceiling fan company. With the goal of growing each company’s sales on the Amazon platform, I help enhance the customer experience by expanding each brand’s selection, optimizing the supply chain, and managing site content and promotions.
I was hired as part of the Retail Undergraduate Program along with 40 other amazing students from universities across the country. Most of these RUPs are also in Brand Specialist roles, covering vendors in categories such as consumer electronics or apparel.
What is your work and education background?
I just graduated in June with a major in economics, minor in business institutions, and a certificate in leadership. Outside of the classroom, I was heavily involved in the Associated Student Government, my fraternity, and Camp Kesem.
In terms of work experience, I previously interned at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a futures and options exchange, and Shore Capital Partners, a boutique private equity firm in Chicago. Private equity taught me that I most enjoy growing businesses, and that’s a big reason I ended up choosing Amazon.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
There’s never a shortage of issues that come up and different things to learn, especially when you’re starting off, so the cliché would be to say that no two days are the same.
At a high level, my workday usually involves a couple of meetings with various team members, a lot of email communication, and data analysis either in Excel or the large number of proprietary Amazon systems. I am in constant contact with my vendors and we also have weekly sales calls and operations calls.
What’s the best thing about working for Amazon?
What initially sold me on Amazon continues to reinforce itself in every conversation I’ve had at work—the people that I get to interact and work with are incredible. People on my team are extremely smart, hardworking, and passionate about their jobs. They’re also very approachable and eager to teach. For many people at Amazon, the product or category is important but still not as important as the people.
What professional advice do you have for job-seeking graduating students? For students who are early in their college careers?
For job-seeking students, my advice would be this: don’t wear a suit to an Amazon interview. Our most dressy days consist of jeans and button-down shirts, and suits stand out like a sore thumb. I also say this in a more philosophical sense—understand the culture of the company and accommodate accordingly. Much like how each of Northwestern’s student organizations has a distinct culture and students join groups based on their interests and fit, companies are the same way. The best way to gain this understanding is by doing your research; talk to as many employees (alumni are easy targets) and read as much as you can. Along the way, I’d also recommend reading Professor Bill White’s book: From Day One.
For students early in their college careers, the best thing you can do is seek out opportunities to learn, whether that is an unpaid internship or coffee chats with people in industries of interest. What’s important is exposing yourself to different experiences so that you can learn more about yourself—what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, what you like, and what you don’t like. A bad internship can be just as valuable for your future decision-making as a good internship.
What makes a candidate stand out to Amazon recruiters?
A candidate who can think well and articulate his or her thoughts clearly is one that stands out. We prize business judgment and instincts to a large degree because, generally, industry knowledge is teachable and technical skills are trainable. Balance is also important—Amazon values those who are comfortable both with diving deep into data and with extrapolating that data to tell a story.
What does your work space look like?
We work in open aisles grouped by teams. And as you can see on the top right, we have lots of samples lying around our workspaces. My standing desk comes in next week.
What gadget, office tool or program can’t you live without?
I would have to say Excel; Amazon is very data-driven and we use it all the time for everything from reports to project trackers. I’d highly recommend learning Excel without a mouse for any job that requires data analysis.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
If I had to pinpoint a specific piece of advice that I try to live by, it would probably be something along the lines of, shoot for the stars. I grew up in a family that cares deeply about education and learning, which I think is common among Northwestern students. We all embrace education as a transformational opportunity that lets us unlock our dreams and reach our stars, wherever they may be. We’ll never know what we’re fully capable of unless we continually test our limits and expand our horizons in every direction.