Ask Me Anything: A Real-Talk Conversation about Working at Amazon

hi everyone it's great to be here today my name is anthony cole i am a senior business developer for amazon business and as rob mentioned i'm president of the black employee network chapter here in seattle the black employee network also known as ben is one of amazon's 13 affinity groups we also have glamazon women's at indigenous act latinos at and several other groups and our mission is to champion inclusion diversity and equity and to create a support system for our amazon employees we also focus on professional development recruitment community involvement networking and of course amazon business growth i'd love to introduce you to our panel each of which who started their amazon careers in one of our fulfillment centers welcome all of you and thanks for being with us today we've compiled a list of questions that are often asked about our company and i think you are the perfect group to answer them first off amazon always talks about how you can grow your career here but there are a lot of people who want to understand what that really means i'd like to hear a bit more from each of you about your journey and how you've been able to easily transition teams at amazon so lydia let's start with you hi anthony thank you so much so i actually started out as a seasonal associate in a fulfillment center um in chattanooga tennessee i did get converted after only three months of being a seasonal employee i actually received my first promotion um in operations just under my one year anniversary i've worked with the learning team to train new leaders and new associates i also partnered with human resources on a lot of different retention projects for our for our associates and then that led me into where i am now being a human resources business partner in one of our amazon delivery stations wow that's awesome congratulations on your promotion thank you uh alyssa tell us about your journey yeah i started as a temporary associate right here in sumner washington um i we worked in our research and development site after about three months same as lydia i got um our my blue badge and you know i i wanted to stay with the company i loved it so much um ended up you know getting promoted to a tier three and i had a one-on-one with a really great mark recruiting manager up here in seattle and i came out of that meeting totally excited about recruiting but with zero experience so i had to basically convince the team that i could bring you know great operations experience and having multiple managers at the site i believe that i could you know affect who is hired into that next role and once i got in i actually ended up transferring to i-team internal transfers engagement and mobility team um and they you know they their focus is to help promote internal associates from within awesome i love that so jose you came to amazon after about 20 years experience and you made a big jump really quickly um and i have to ask something that's on a lot of people's minds right uh you know once you got your foot in the door is it easy to transition to other positions within the company yeah thank you anthony um yeah i found the journey to be very easy once i got to amazon and then the journey getting to amazon was a bit unique in my case so like you said i had 20 years i have 20 years experience before coming to amazon i in financial services industry i i left the industry to take time off to spend with my family and that was the initial thought i took about a year off from the workforce and focused on my family started having conversations with some of the major banks and and conversations were progressing and materializing you know the marketplace was something more of like who you know versus what you know and unfortunately in my network i didn't know anyone in amazon so i figured the best way to meet people was to join any which way i could so i went to the fulfillment center at the nearest fulfillment center which is about three minutes from my home went in there and started as a tier one level one warehouse associate and um use the tools that are provided by amazon like job finder to find opportunities and the phone tool to find out who different folks throughout the senior leadership team within finance to find the opportunity and like as you mentioned within about two months i started conversations interviewing and within four months i started my new role all right this one is for all of you we got a lot of questions on how tough the work environment is at amazon is that your experience so i'll start having the experience of working in the fulfillment center and in the corporate office environment i was in a unique opportunity in a unique position where i had 20 years of senior senior leadership experience and coming in with a managerial type of mindset you know to understand what this what the leadership team at the fulfillment center wanted to accomplish but also being humble enough obviously walking in their day one um loading drugs uh to be able to have kind of like those water cooler conversations and relationships with folks on the floor to understand what they wanted right we have an objective and something to get a goal to get to at the end of each day and we do it within a like a reasonable flow i think that's my personal perspective is it tough yes it's it's hard right i worked four day shifts 10 hour shifts and it's difficult but you know amazon's a well-oiled machine and and you go in there you start your shift managers are understanding you have your breaks plenty of breaks throughout the day there's mutual respect between managers and the employees regardless of the level um and and that was unique in and of itself it was a tough environment but you know it's doable and respect was the theme of the day to day there i mean i think it is a tough it is a tough environment but at the same time it's it's again only as tough as you make it right you you if you go in and you have a good work ethic and you you know try hard um it's it's easy to to make it yeah so i kind of have like a two-fold experience right so i was a picker 10 to 15 miles a night i called it my new my uh my my free workout plan is what i call it right so yeah exactly you know going in there every single day seeing a different part of the process and then you know learning how essential i actually was like whatever i was picking was maybe someone's birthday present an anniversary gift a one-of-a-kind find like you just you're you're a hero it's kind of you know that's the way i started kind of looking at it um and just making sure that whatever someone sees on the website it gets to them in the same way right um so i understood that so you know the the breaks um the you know the walking yes those things are tough but like i said the breaks give you that time to relax reset um you know if you had a question for your leader take and be able to talk to them um and then on the flip side of that um being in in hr it's a lot of information right like it's they equate it to drinking from a fire hose right like you have to learn about your process you have to learn about time-off options you have to learn about all these different things um we don't know everything it's a lot i still ask questions even if i've done something several times over i'm like hey just so i make sure i have this like walk me through it a little bit right but um and again with alyssa it's only as tough as you make it right like if you go in and you understand what you're actually doing is magic every single day um and just taking and understand that there is going to be there are going to be some tough times to where you are sore um making sure you're understanding what that soreness is coming from we have on-site safety um we have on-site you know um amcare right like you can take and go ask those questions to the safety professionals right um that are in there just being able to understand and make sure you're you're identifying things the the right way and getting the right resources we have accommodations resources we have leave of absence resources right so um there are a lot of tools and a lot of resources available for us one of the other things i hear about in in the news in the media a lot is like opportunity and growth right there's a lot of um there's a lot of negativity right but we're surrounding you know there's there's no way to promote or you know and and i i would i would urge you to look at us three right like there's there's always opportunity and even my team is we're i-team we promote internals i literally send out emails weekly about opportunities geared towards internal people right one of our new projects that's coming out is literally to allow associates to apply on their phone right so it's going to be like this awesome new opportunity and they're going to have it access you know they're going to access 24 7.

Absolutely love it so each of you um you know mentioned there's a level of it being tough but there's also a full fulfillment um in terms of a fulfilling feeling doing understanding the why behind why you're doing your role and also having fun while doing that so thank you for sharing yeah yeah so folks uh know a lot about amazon but what are some things folks don't know that you like to share so i definitely like to share something about the benefits right so um in january of 2016 um amazon actually started um to pay for maternity leave actually started to pay a hundred percent of your pay versus the 60 60 in years before um i did have my daughter in january of 2016 which was amazing um i actually was able to get um 14 weeks off with her initially she was a preemie so being able to have that time to just kind of like decompress and understand what that means to have have a preemie and be able to spend that time and kind of get life in order while also having my income coming was was perfect um i also got an additional two weeks that was was right there at the end that i was able to save until a little bit later in the year before my other children went back to school and it gave me a little bit more time to be with them before they went back to school and then also to spend some time with the baby um after she had gotten a little bit older so that's awesome so i love that you had all of that time with your newborn that's amazing oh yeah anybody else would like to share i think that you know yeah i can chime in there um so my my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 um and obviously i've been with amazon since 2011.

And then later when when my mom passed away in 2019 like right before that time she was on hospice care so my team encouraged me to take time off and the the amount of like one the amount of vacation and personal time that they give you here allowed me to like be very flexible with what i needed i was able to take fmla during that time as well which really allowed me to be there to help her with whatever she needed so part of that time you know i wanted to really be be in my job and work because it was a distraction but at the same time like my manager and my team pushed me to like take time off like you know have that have that moment and it helped a lot and having that that opportunity with fmla that amazon offers was really was really helpful and impactful for me also i really love that you had that team support and we're able to also take advantage of the benefits that we offer during that tough time yeah and i feel like that's something else that a lot of people don't realize it's like it's a huge family like honestly and truthfully i will tell my team like you are like my family and um i mean that right because just like what you said just all of that support um it means a lot um to come in you're not just going you're not just going into a workplace you're going into like your second home almost right so and getting to build like all these different relationships and meet all these new people that helps us get through a lot of different things too so i'm definitely glad that you had as much support as you did going through all of that with your mom me too yeah and i would add about the benefits right so again coming into the fulfillment center my motive was obviously to move and get an opportunity within the corporate function um but also to provide medical benefits for my family and that's something that amazon offers day one at level one right you go into the fulfillment center you start working and you have full-blown benefits healthcare 401k all that good stuff available to you day one and then going back to your original question and to move away from benefits is like something that folks may not be aware of about amazon for me what caught my attention at the warehouse was the amount of opportunity that amazon offers people in general from all walks of life and all backgrounds yeah right folks have an opportunity so if you want to work and you want to have an opportunity to get in the door somewhere amazon is a great place to start i love all of those answers and what a great way to end today's panel you know talking about our keys to personal success here at amazon i want to thank you again for all of you sharing your stories with us today and our career day audience giving us insight into those frequently asked questions [Music] [Applause] [Music] you

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