Now enjoying extraordinary success as one of the world’s biggest companies, Amazon has sure come a long way since its humble beginnings. Founded in a garage in 1994, the tech conglomerate once served as an online bookseller under the name Cadabra — which Jeff Bezos apparently changed to Amazon because of its familiar ring with “cadaver”.
Not even three decades later, in 2022, some 15,000 students interned at Amazon in more than 40 countries. In the US, Amazon’s intern class consisted of students from 400 universities, including historically Black and Hispanic-serving institutions. In the same year, Amazon ranked 5th in Glassdoor’s highest-paid internships list, offering its interns a median monthly salary of $8,000.
If you’re determined to land a high-paying, highly educational internship in a diverse environment, then Amazon is without doubt the right place for you. By the end of this step-by-step guide, you’ll be ready to start the application process with confidence!
Step 1: Choose the right role
The first step in gaining work experience at Amazon is to look at the company’s internship opportunities. These are divided into two main types: business internships, and technical, engineering, and research internships.
To view them in detail, visit Amazon Jobs and filter the various intern projects by category, depending on your field of interest. Some of the categories currently available are:
- Machine learning science
- Software development
- Sales, advertising, and account management
- Business intelligence
- Hardware development
- Human resources
The intern job openings can also be filtered by region. Besides the US and Canada, intern projects are offered in multiple countries around the globe, including France, Spain, Germany, China, South Korea, and Australia, to list a few. Out of all these locations, the Amazon Seattle HQ typically offers the most positions.
To increase your chances of becoming an intern at Amazon, pick a job category that best aligns with your educational background and personal interests, and apply early. The more passionate you are about the subject, the better your chances of being selected.
Step 2: Perfect your résumé
The second step to landing an internship with Amazon entails tailoring your résumé to the position. This, of course, goes for every single role you’ll ever apply for.
If you’re fairly new to job hunting, you may not have heard the term “applicant tracking systems” before. An applicant tracking system, or ATS, is a software that weeds through the thousands of applications big corporations receive to select the most relevant ones. How does it do this? By looking out for particular keywords.
To get past the ATS and have your application read by human eyes, view the job description closely and pay attention to the language. For example, let’s say you’re looking at a summer internship in digital marketing. If the job listing mentions skills like “excellent communication” and “analytic tool proficiency”, you’ll want to add these to your internship résumé in a natural way. Flooding your résumé with keywords will only compromise its quality.
Step 3: Submit an application
When you’re done perfecting your résumé, you’ll have to revisit the Amazon Jobs website to submit your internship applications. Find the internship that interests you and hit the “Apply now” button. You’ll be asked to create an Amazon Jobs account.
Once you’re signed in, you’ll be able to submit your résumé (as either a digital file or a link to your LinkedIn profile), your contact details, and some additional information, you’re your educational background and work eligibility.
If you’re wondering why we haven’t mentioned cover letters yet, here’s the thing: Amazon doesn’t seem to want them.
“Being a peculiar company, we don't accept cover letters”, their website declares. “Just ensure your résumé is up to date and you're all set.”
Step 4: Complete the assessments
If your application passes the initial screening, you’ll find yourself one step before the interview(s). At this stage, you’ll need to complete the so-called “work style assessment” and “work sample simulation”. To prepare for the first assessment, read the Amazon interview guide and familiarize yourself with Amazon’s leadership principles. This should give you a good idea of the qualities they’re looking for in an applicant.
During the work sample simulation, you’ll be called to demonstrate skills relevant to the role you’ve applied for. You won’t need any special preparation for this one, unless you’re interested in a software development engineer internship. If you are, visit the technical topics page and find out how themes like data structures and algorithms relate to Amazon and its products.
Step 5: Prepare for an interview (or two, or three)
If you successfully pass the tests and get invited to an interview, you’ll likely experience a mix of nervousness and excitement. Thankfully, as in the case of the assessments, you’ll have the Amazon interview guide to help you prepare.
When you’re reading through it, make sure you give emphasis to Amazon’s leadership principles. Amazon employees and interns alike are expected to demonstrate their leadership skills using real-life examples during the interview.
One thing they also recommend you do is use the STAR format when answering behavioral interview questions. The STAR method looks like this:
- Situation: Describe the situation you were in and its complexities.
- Task: Describe what your goal was.
- Action: Go over the steps you took to address the situation, keeping your answer action-oriented.
- Result: Tell your interviewer what you managed to accomplish, providing metrics or data if applicable.
Keep in mind that you’ll most likely have to attend a phone interview initially and then a virtual or in-person interview afterwards.
Amazon brings in interview specialists called “bar raisers” to assist with the hiring process. Though you won’t know which of your interviewers the “bar raiser” is, they’ll likely be among the last people you speak with. Impressing them can make all the difference.
Here's a quick recap of Amazon's internship recruitment process:
When it comes to hiring interns, Amazon cares more about students’ character and way of thinking than their GPA or what university they’re attending. That’s why it’s important to be yourself in the interview, allowing your originality and personal qualities to shine through.
As you’re probably eager to start the application process for your Amazon internship, let’s go over the main points in this article one last time:
- As you won’t be able to submit a cover letter, ensure your résumé is up to date and tailored to the job listing
- Carefully read the resources on the Amazon Jobs website when preparing for the interview process and assessments
- Your hiring manager wants to see drive, passion, innovative thinking, and a growth mindset from your side
- Though there’s no official deadline for applications, Amazon encourages students to apply in late summer or early autumn
Whether you’re an undergrad, studying for a master’s degree, or pursuing a PhD, an internship with Amazon is bound to be an enriching, once-in-a-lifetime experience — unless, of course, you end up getting an offer for a full-time position in the process.
Have you applied for an Amazon internship before? Let us know what your experience was like in the comments section.
Originally published November 28, 2014.