Summer Spotlight - Amazon

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

Amazon Summer Spotlight

Amazon

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.

amazon.jobs/principles

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.”

Project

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.”

Location

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