My Summer Internship at Amazon
Ross Boomer -
I had no idea where I’d land after my first year at business school. Coming from the energy sector, I was optimistic about what seemed like the endless internship possibilities Fuqua could give me. But if you told me that by summer I’d be doing in-depth market research on how moms and dads choose strollers and cribs, I’d probably ask if you had the wrong person. Needless to say, that’s exactly what happened, and I couldn’t be more thankful for my summer experience at Amazon.
While Amazon offers a wide assortment of MBA programs (after all, it’s Fuqua’s top non-consulting employer), Amazon’s Retail Leadership Development Program interested me the most. Housed within Amazon’s retail business, the full-time, three-year programs allows you to explore and rotate through two different job functions in two different retail business units. At the same time, the program comes with more formalized training, career development, and exposure to senior leadership. Ultimately, the program builds general managers that are comfortable with ambiguity and excited to solve new problems in a wildly changing industry. Given the size of Amazon’s presence and the level of innovation it already brought to the retail space, I knew the scope and breadth of learning opportunities would likely be staggering, so it was a no-brainer to apply to the internship as a trial-run.
One application and four interviews later, I saw the word every MBA loves to see starting an email—“Congratulations!”—and by mid-May, I found myself touching down in Seattle for a 12-week internship. While you don’t rotate during the summer, you are promised real work, solving real business problems, at the level of a full-time participant. In my case, I was put on Amazon’s Baby Registry team and given a broad work prompt: figure out how we can evolve the Baby Registry customer experience through product curation and personalization.
I had no experience with baby products, professionally or otherwise, and I didn’t quite know what the words “curation” and “personalization” actually meant. But that’s what makes Amazon a potentially exciting employer; the company trusts you to make real business decisions, but how you make those decisions is largely up to you.
Despite the ambiguity of my work and the pressure to deliver something tangible by the end of 12 weeks, I was amazed at how much formal and informal support I was given. My manager, an MBA grad and a former intern himself, knew what my experience entailed and was always willing to answer my dumbest questions and gave me constant feedback on my progress. At the same time, I was given a senior manager as a formal mentor to help me better understand my progress, as well as a recent Fuqua alumna as a ‘buddy’ to provide support on a more informal level. I was also impressed by how easy it was to receive help from others; whether it was the coworker sitting next to me or a stranger in a separate building that was working on something I deemed relevant, I found that most people in the company were willing to give me at least 30 minutes of their time because they likely needed the same from someone else given the speed Amazon grows.
From a work standpoint, every day was largely driven by my own decisions on what tasks to prioritize. While the first half of my project focused more on combing through customer data and market research and scoping out my project’s vision, the second half of my internship was tailored to execution—what can Amazon do immediately to test and implement my final recommendations (even before I leave), and what are the requirements and next steps to see my vision get implemented long-term? At the end of my internship, I had to present to key stakeholders a six-page white paper that outlined everything I had studied over the summer, as well as detailed next steps to ensure my work kept momentum when I left.
Did I work a lot? Yes. But was I also in a super cosmopolitan city with a stunning mountain backdrop and a surprising amount of sun and bars and restaurants? YES. Seattle made the summer that much more enjoyable, and it also made it easy to later accept a full-time offer from Amazon.
Amazon’s headquarters are in central South Lake Union, with most of the city’s most desirable destinations like Capitol Hill, Pike’s Place, and Fremont only 10 to 15 minutes away by walking or car (or even public transit) and the Pacific Northwest’s lush playground for all things outdoors less than an hour away. With planned Amazon intern events and plenty of current Fuquans and alumni in the city, I had no problem finding opportunities to step away from work and recharge.
To learn more about my recruitment journey, and why I ultimately made the career decisions I made, read my other blog post. Amazon is not for everyone, and it’s important to keep an open mind when you start your MBA. Despite the cliché, it really is about the journey and not the destination. But if you find yourself up for a challenge and fascinated by the act of shopping (not just by what you’re buying), Amazon may be for you!
Daytime MBA, Class of 2017
I was living in L.A. working in energy before coming to Durham for my MBA. Fuqua Admissions' LGBT weekend showed me how this school was the place where I could have a transformative MBA experience.
Learn more about Ross|View all of Ross's Posts
My Internship experience at Amazon and Hotstar
My life so far…
So I still have a year to complete my graduation (Expected June 2018). But even though I am from a tier 3 college I was lucky enough to intern with 2 great companies.
Amazon and Hotstar.
Getting an internship at one of the BIG4 (Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft ) or any hot-startups in India, if you are not from one of the IITs, NITs, BITS is very difficult for students at Mumbai University. It will take another post to see what’s wrong with Mumbai University ;).
Let’s keep it for another post on how I landed internship at Amazon.
The Experience at Amazon…
Let’s see what I enjoyed and learned during my internship.
So I started with interning as a Solution Architect at Amazon’s Cloud Computing Business (AWS). Clearly they are the leader in what they do. You won’t find a single startup who doesn’t use Amazon Cloud for their purposes like hosting, storage, building APIs etc.
Also being able to use AWS Cloud is one of the most demanded skill in market that also pays a lot because there are not many engineers who know how to use AWS.
Being an intern at AWS I got to experiment with almost all of the AWS services for free. My job at AWS was to build applications that demonstrated end-to-end use cases of AWS services or AWS APIs. This applications showed which service of AWS can fit in which layer of end-to-end stack of the application.
Some applications that I worked on included transferring Terabytes of data from one S3 bucket to another S3 bucket in same or different AWS region. The analysis that I did in this project were related to transfer speeds that we get if we follow unconventional method to transfer data. The catch was to use hadoop’s Map and Reduce on AWS EMR. So the result, I got speed of 500 MB/s which took around 17 mins to transfer a total of 1 TB of data.
A lot of other interesting projects I was working on. Can’t discuss all of them (NDA) here. But it was really cool to work on AWS platform that too for free ;).
An event to be remembered..
During my internship period, I got a chance to present for AWS DevDay held in Delhi during sometime around November 2016. I presented on AWS Kinesis. The audience were from some hot-startups like Yatra.com . It was a day to be remembered.
One fun fact about my visit to AWS DevDay —
I had my 5th end semester exams going on in my college during the AWS DevDay. I presented on Nov 14 and returned to Mumbai for appearing in exam on Nov 16. Due to exams I could not attend the event in Pune and Bangalore. Luckily I cleared my semester exams :)
So this was my journey from Aug 2016 to Feb 2017. A 6 month long internship which completely changed my career which in turn changed my life. And as per the rules in India a MNC can’t extend internship beyond 6 months, so I had to move on. But the team wanted an intern so I ended up referring my friend from Sardar Patel college.
Along with the million dollar experience and lifetime of learning AWS. I made enough money as stipend to buy out a OnePlus 3 and PS4 for myself ❤ and gift a Moto G4 Plus to my Dad on his birthday. ❤ Also free Sodexo Coupons worth Rs: 1100 every month thus saving money whenever I want to eat out :)
Travelling on a road to become a star with Hotstar —
After resting for 15 days in March, I got an opportunity to intern at Hotstar from March 23. I had requested a referral from one of my seniors at AWS for this internship (this is how I landed there).
This internship clearly proved me that if you have worked on AWS, nobody can stop from working with any hot-shot startup that solves problems for millions of viewers on a scale that you can’t imagine.
We all agree to the fact that whenever there is a cricket match of team India, Hotstar is the only solution for those who are travelling, for those who have no control on their TV’s remote at home. And don’t forget Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai which exclusively streams on Hotstar. But what goes into bringing that content to you is full of Software Engineering Problems that are solved by very smart people who know what they do.
I feel blessed to work with some of the smartest brains in the country, learn from them and work on nuts and bolts of bigger problems.
The Experience at Hotstar..
I got an opportunity to work on Machine Learning. With lots of data coming in about user’s watch time, it makes sense to make predictions about the user so that he has a wonderful experience. Be it recommendations, personalisation or tailored content, Machine Learning is the only solution that helps solve this problem.
So after 4 months time of working with Machine Learning team (March 2017- June 2017) I found some interesting stuff going on with the Backend Microservices team. Hence, I switched the team and now I am into helping solve those problems. And the fun fact, I get to work on AWS Cloud as well.
A day to be remembered —
Remember the India-Pakistan final match on Sunday ? Well, I was at my office with my seniors, monitoring systems health as match progressed and witnessed the sudden spike in viewers when Pandya hit his sixes. Watched the match along with free supply of Pizzas ❤.
A billion dollar worth experience, new technologies to learn, interesting problems to solve. Along with stipend, enough to pay my college fees and be financially independent (yet to graduate).
So this was my journey so far, waiting for more surprises in life since I have 2 more semesters to go and be an Engineer officially with a degree.
I maintain my LinkedIn profile. So if you want to know what I did prior to my Amazon Internship head over here . Hint: Launched 2 startups in first 2 years of college, out of which one startup had 1000 users and served 7000+ user requests ❤.
Thank you for your time. :) Wish you all the best.