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Friday, December 12, 2014

Amazon: Exploring Internships


Although Amazon is usually thought of as an online book retailer, they have been branching out into the publishing world, including offering paid publishing internships to college students. ♦

Over its twenty-year history Amazon has grown from a mere online retailer of books into a powerhouse whose impact touches all aspects of publishing and the larger literary marketplace, from bookselling to editing, publishing, sales, and promotion of literary works. This has famously put them in direct competition not (just) with other booksellers but with publishing houses themselves, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Amazon has branched out into internship programs more closely aligned, historically, with Big Five publishing and a summer in New York than working for a bookseller. Currently Amazon offers a number of intern programs focused on technical writing, copywriting, publishing, content management, materials coordination, and digital editing . . . in other words, offering internship possibilities which cover the full range of literary production, giving college students eager to enter the world of publishing a number of attractive opportunities to do so.
       It’s no secret that internships have become a recognized (some might say necessary) tool in offering college-aged students valuable experience and skills for a future career; in fact a recent study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that there is a direct correlation between internship experience and being able to quickly acquire a job position and maintain it. According to a recent Tech Crunch article looking at the NACE’s findings. “The report reveals that sixty-three percent of paid interns received 'at least one job offer upon graduation' in 2012, compared to the thirty-six percent of grads who had no internship experience. In turn, seventy-five percent of employees that were hired out of internships were retained after a year, compared to sixty percent for those who didn’t.” The report describes a list of twenty companies that are known for the outstanding way their employees are treated and showing a direct correlation between those twenty companies, known to have a discerning and high-level interview difficulty, and those companies who compensated their employees with high wages and excellent experience. Google was rated the best place to intern . . . with Amazon ranked fifteenth.
       Part of what the report highlights is that it’s an intern’s market; the onus is increasingly on companies to fashion an internship experience that will woo the best and brightest into its ranks. The biggest companies—including Cisco, Google, Microsoft, and Earnest and Young, to name a few—are all competing for the top students, trying to win them over by offering competitive wages and benefits, and by fashioning programs that will ease students’ practical and logistical concerns about spending a summer interning. For its part, Amazon tries to account for any worries or difficulties the students may have and to resolve the issues so that it’s easy for a student to intern, including the major concern of geographical relocation. To counter the stress of relocating for an internship, Amazon pays for all travel fees, including food, baggage and transportation, and offers furnished housing and even biweekly housekeeping once the student has settled in. On its University Recruiting page, Amazon states that interns are further offered mentoring, presentation series and resources, and experiences that will ensure a positive work environment. The company also tries to get its interns to stay on with their company after completion of the program, and manages to do this at a high rate (though its success rate might also speak to how Amazon makes its offers, which are good for a specific time, giving the interns two weeks to accept.)
       The website Quora offers a place where previous or current Amazon interns can post about their experiences with the company, including discussing Amazon’s mentorship program and quality of the assigned projects. According to Quora website, the average salary for an Amazon intern is about $5,000 per month along with the benefits; some posters also point to the many perks Amazon offer in the internship such as stipends, discounts, food and meal coupons, events, merchandise, and a 24/7 cab service.
       Beyond the financial perks, many Quora users discuss the general atmosphere and work environment at the company . . . from a both positive and negative viewpoint. “Amazon is filled with smart engineers,” former intern Vishnu Jayvel writes, “and anytime you roam around the office you could find a group of super talented people brainstorming about some interesting challenges. I was highly motivated by my co-workers every day.” Former intern James Wong, on the other hand, describes some of the negative aspects of his experience with Amazon: “As far as the facilities go, I found them lacking. Perhaps it’s because the building is brand new, but we were missing quite a bit of tools here.” Others had a similarly mixed experience, describing their disappointment in the lack of challenging projects, for instance, or lamenting the fact that Amazon’s internships require a lot of work and time, and that it was difficult to find a balance.
       Nevertheless, Amazon’s internship program is marked not only by the sheer number of possibilities for working in fields related to publishing but by the amount of information out there about the experience, and whether the program specifics and perks meet a potential intern’s needs across the board. If one is interested in obtaining an internship at Amazon, the Quora website would a very helpful place to start looking at what Amazon offers, in order to determine if the programs would be a good fit. Not to mention, to get a sense of the biggest takeaway: that these internships can be a valuable asset to students’ futures as a result of the skills gained from the experience, making them eminently marketable for future employers.
  • About the Author
    Shannon LaGassa is a Political Science and English: Professional Writing student at Miami University. She is currently trying to finish the book Cien Años de Soledad and study for the LSAT. She is also a College of Arts and Science Communication Intern at Miami University where one of her tasks is to attend lectures and write summary articles about them.

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