Summer Spotlight - Amazon

This week we are talking with Kennen and Jerry about their experiences so far at Amazon.

Amazon Summer Spotlight


For the Amazon summer spotlight, we will be focusing on two Amazon interns: Jerry Jiang and Kennen DeRenard.

Jerry is interning at Amazon Japan on the Amazon Points team and Kennen is interning at Amazon in Santa Monica, on the Amazon Studios / Prime Video Mixed Reality (VR) team.

The Interview Process

Jerry: I interviewed 3 times on Amazon Chime, which is a different process from the U.S. Amazon interview process.

Kennen: “The interview process was really quick compared to some other companies. There were 3 parts. The first part was an online assessment that tested code debugging skills, as well as logical reasoning (similar to an IQ test). The second part was another online assessment that focused on interview-style coding questions, with automated testing. The last part of my process was a phone interview with an SDE (software development engineer). It was 45 minutes, with 1 coding question and a few conceptual questions. My decision came back fairly quick as well, within a couple business days.”

Memorable Experiences

Jerry: “I walked outside and the sky was leaking. My mentor explained that this was ‘rain’.”

Kennen: “Definitely hard to have memorable experiences in a couple weeks, but the overall experience has been amazing. I already know that the time I’ve spent designing my project, playing VR games, and having interactions with my team members will be memories for years to come.”

Amazon’s Culture

Jerry: “The Amazon principles are actually real. They define the culture here and the mindsets of Amazonians very well.

Customer obsession, ownership, frugality, fun problems of massive scale, high standards, …[and] lots of cake”

Also the work-life balance is actually pretty alright, times are very flexible and you can work from home on a regular basis if you really wanted to do that.

Kennen: “The culture at Amazon, especially my team, seems really unique. The environment is really relaxed, yet everyone is always doing their best work. My team focuses a lot on independence, and we have a lot of freedom with when and how we work. But still, everyone trusts each other to get the work assigned to them done. The leadership principles are definitely also important, especially being customer oriented. Every design decision we make is focused on making things the best it can be for our customers.”


Jerry: “On top secret points team project, maybe two. Definitely not given useless throwaway projects here.”

Kennen: “Unfortunately my project is confidential outside of Amazon (at the moment), but I’m definitely using skills I’ve learned from many classes I’ve taken.”


Jerry: “The Japan branch is an extremely culturally diverse office - nobody on my team is from the same country, and we have a very sizable team. Almost all developers are foreigners here, so it’s interesting to talk about our home countries and backgrounds all the time.

We own most of two massive towers (less than Seattle), lots of whiteboards, not open floor, free employee vending machine with sparkling grape juice, coffee, tea, soup, soda, etc. Elevators are Amazon boxes, amazing view from office, and employee cafeteria with nice cheap Japanese food. There is also a rock climbing wall, a massage room, and a ton of great cheap lunch places (1250 yen lunch galbi + brisket yakiniku with salad, rice and soup buffet!) near the office.

Japan is great, get to work hard on weekdays and play hard on weekends. I am studying so I hopefully can speak Japanese by the end of this internship.”

Rock Climbing Wall

Kennen: “Santa Monica is a unique Amazon location. My team is located in the Water Garden (with a beautiful view of LA), which is a group of buildings with a few other companies (Hulu, Oracle, etc). There’s definitely many interactions between companies as we go to lunch and do other activities. Also, my team is located in Amazon Studios, so there’s always a few celebrities each week.”

Downtown Tokoyo

Member of the Month for April: Jack Kolb

Jack is being recognized for his involvement in the chapter!

Member of the Month for April: Jack Kolb

Jack Kolb The Member of the Month for November goes to Jack Kolb! Even though Jack isn't a computing related major, he's been incredibly involved with the ACM chapter!

Who are you?

My name is Jack Kolb and I am a second year Mechanical Engineer at UCR. My interests are in general artificial intelligence, wireless networks, and robotics. I love programming, am not a CS major, so I try to learn as much as possible through ACM, hackathons, projects, and sitting in on CS courses.

What got you interested in computer science?

I used to make games on my TI-83 calculator during my 2-hour High School commute. At the end of High School I finally explored Python, and was inspired by my first-year roommate to learn C++.

What's the best advice you have received?

Write down your goals and tape them to your bedroom door -- keeping them in mind will guide you to achieving them.

What's next?

Get an A on my Fluid Mechanics midterm! Beyond that I'll be starting a company; been playing with a few ideas.

See you next Fall!

Check out the awesome things our members are doing this summer.

John Pham

Aaroh Mankad

Aaroh will be a dragon slayer this summer at the castle of Facebook fighting the data trolls.

John Pham

John will be interning at AT&T working on their internal machine learning tooling.

Daniel Stinson-Diess

Daniel will be interning at Southern California Edison this summer working on their cyber security team.

Cameron Morin

Cameron will be interning at Southern California Edison this summer working on their cyber security team.

Harley Seizar

Harley will be working on the internal tooling team at Sears Holding.

Patrick Tumbucon

Patrick will be interning at Esri this summer. He will be working on the SEO team and collaborate with the web developers.

Member of the Month - November 2017: Marvin Cao

Marvin has been a tremendous ACM mentor, read to learn more about him!

John Pham


ACM's Member of the Month is supported by .Tech Domains. ACM members get discounts on all standard .tech domains. Head over to and use the promo code ACMUCR to get a domain starting at $0.99!

Member of the Month for November: Marvin Cao

Marvin Cao The Member of the Month for November goes to Marvin Cao! Marvin has been involved with ACM over the years and has taken a predominate role in ACM's Office Hours which provides peer-to-peer academic help for all students.

Who are you?

I am a junior Computer Science major at UCR. I am interested in artificial intelligence, graphics and parallel computing. I am a Vietnamese Eagle Scout. I like to spend my time either sleeping or watching random videos on the internet (a turtle eating a tomato). I love food in terms of cooking and eating.

What got you interested in computer science?

I got interested in computer science when I took a course in high school and it was one of the few classes where we made our own unique projects.

What made you want to be an ACM mentor?

I wanted to be an ACM mentor since I did not have one and I feel a mentor can be a good resource for their mentee.

What's the best advice you have received?

“You tend to be more productive when working with others.” because I don’t want to let others down, as opposed to personal work.

What's next?

Short term: I am looking for an internship for this upcoming summer. Long term: I am still unsure of what industry or jobs I want to pursue.

Member of the Month - October 2017: Jerry Jiang

Jerry is being recognized for his participating in UCR's ICPC team

John Pham

Starting now, ACM will be moving away from the Summer Member Spotlights to Member of the Month. This program is meant to recognize the achievements of our peers to inform and inspire others.

Our inaugural post goes to Jerry Jiang.

Who are you?

ACM ICPC My name is Jerry Jiang, I’m a 3rd year CS major and I’m an incoming Software Development Intern at Amazon Japan next summer. I’m the vice president and one of the founders of cyber@UCR (come to our meetings!). As you might have guessed from my internship choice, my limited free time is usually spent on anime, visual novels, and games.

What got you interested in ICPC?

ICPC Bootcamp I always enjoyed competing in things (previously was on our WRCCDC team) and I love programming. I felt like ICPC would be a really great combination of two things I really enjoyed, so here I am.

How was your trip to Barcelona?

It was fun but also surprisingly exhausting. Barcelona is a great city and my experience with the culture and the locals was great. I did not, however, get a carefree 2 week vacation - I spent every day except for one break day on 12-14 hour long bootcamp sessions. The day composed typically of taking the metro to the bootcamp, a full 5 hour competition, lunch, analysis, lectures and keynotes.

The bootcamp practice competitions were extremely brutal, as I would often find myself in the same pool of contestants as some former ICPC world final medalists. You definitely know which days were brutal when you’re 4 hours into the practice competition, 1/3rd of the competitors have not solved a single problem and those very top teams have barely solved half of the questions.

Lectures ranged from string processing algorithms by the founder of Codeforces (HackerRank but competitively ranked and VERY hard) to competitive programming specific data structures by coaches of multiple gold medal teams. It was a very unique educational experience that I wouldn’t have come across normally and provided me with valuable insight.

If anyone has been following the news, I also happened to be at Barcelona when Catalonia was voting to secede from Spain, so that was interesting. I did not expect to be in the middle of a possible political revolution, but I was too exhausted to care about the outside events most of the days. It didn’t seem quite real that hundreds were being injured in the square outside of my hostel room. It also didn’t seem quite real that humans were capable of solving some of those problems in a 5 hour span, so that was more immediately shocking.

What advice would you give to someone interested in ICPC?

Begin practicing now - a lot of teams practice for this competition year-round, as it really is the ultimate CS test. Anything in your classes (sets, maps, A* search, balanced binary trees, MSTs, nim games, recurrence relations, probability, turing machines, computational geometry, dynamic programming, traveling salesman, fermat's, lagrange multipliers and more) is fair game, and if you can do well in this competition you can probably do well anywhere. There are plenty of resources out there and a lot of opportunities to get practice, so please reach out to me and I can help get you started.

I would also like to say the most important thing in competitive programming is to put in the practice and not give up. It’s very easy to be intimidated and even more easy to feel like a complete idiot on these difficult problems, so the important part is to never stop trying to improve.

What's next?

Future I plan to hopefully support growth of competitive programming interest at UCR for ICPC, Code Jam and other well known programming competitions. It’s critical that we maintain a pool of interested contestants that will practice regularly to place well in these competitions. This can also be beneficial to students that want some solid interview practice that makes the average interview question look like 1+1. I want to help make UCR more relevant and help our school gain more notice in the world of computer science through these competitions.

For my career and academic goals, I plan to finish my bachelors and start making $$$. I hope Amazon Japan will be a great step towards that.