MY CAREER AT AMAZON
Maja went from her home country Macedonia to Slovenia, further to Paris and ended up in London. When the world as we knew it started to fall apart in March 2020, she interviewed for an internship at Amazon and got it. Today she works as a Brand Specialist for Amazon in London and she told us all about her student period, how she got the internship and what her role at work entails today.
Please tell us more about your study experiences and how you ended up in London at Amazon.
My journey began with a bachelor degree in International Trade and Economics back at home in Skopje, Macedonia. Eager to continue my studies and try myself in a new field and environment, I decided to move to Slovenia in 2018 – a country I always deemed to be the perfect mix between home and the rest of Europe. The master’s degree in Marketing opened a path to a myriad of opportunities both professionally and personally. Along the way, I met extraordinary people, welcoming people coming from different countries and therefore understanding the struggles of a young person away from home. For the third semester of my studies, I was able to take part in an Erasmus exchange program at IESEG School of Management in Paris, France. Thanks to the exchange, I was able to wrap up my classes one semester earlier and use the opportunity to carry out an internship somewhere in Europe. The ‘task’ wasn’t easy as I had no prior experience and it involved rejections along the way. However, I kept being persistent and among the many applications, I was able to pass the online assessment to get an interview for an internship position at Amazon in Germany. In total, I passed 3 rounds of interviews, with the last one being in March 2020 (a turbulent period as we all know). After Amazon extended the offer, I unfortunately wasn’t able to travel and start off the internship in Munich, and even had to shorten it from 6 to 3 months. Luckily, I was able to negotiate and embark on a journey at Amazon Fashion, more specifically the Apparel (or clothing) department from my room in Paris back in July 2020. It was definitely a unique experience, and I was lucky enough to have a very supportive manager who taught me and gave me a lot of ownership. The internship ended with an offer for a full-time position at Amazon’s UK HQ in London, which I gladly accepted.
How would you describe Amazon to anyone who doesn’t know what it is?
Amazon is the online corner shop where you can find literally anything and everything. Wider than the retail side, it is also the place where a lot of innovation happens. We have for example “smart” super markets (Amazon Fresh), AI enabled products hubs (Alexa), streaming services (Prime Video), cloud web services (AWS) etc.
A good CV and motivation letter are the first two steps. Can you tell us more about the selection process?
The selection process at Amazon is somewhat unique. Unlike other companies, you’re actually not required to provide a motivational letter. It differs based on the roles but overall, there are 6 steps to it: 1) CV screening; 2) Online Assessments 3) Screening call 4) Video interviews 5) On-site behavioural interviews based on the 16 Leadership principles 6) Case study. Amazon is well-known for its 16 Leadership Principles which are essentially all the values that an Amazon employee, current and future, is expected to follow and live by. When doing the behavioural interviews, you’re expected to compare your past experiences against these principles in a very specific problem-action-result format, or also known as the STAR method.
And what exactly do you do at Amazon? What are your responsibilities?
I work within Amazon Fashion or more specifically the shoes department. As a brand specialist, my core role involves working closely with key brands on Amazon across Europe (9 marketplaces in total). This encompasses building a growth strategy and implementing tailor-made actions which would help drive further the brand’s multimillion-dollar business and delight the end-customer. I essentially manage the full range of the brand’s catalogue and how it is presented to the customer, carry out buys to ensure product availability all year-round, as well as provide support to resolve any logistical or operational issues when deliveries are made to our Fulfilment Centres.
Apart from my core role, at Amazon it’s very common to get involved into projects that help you further grow your skills. One of the projects where I am included is the planning of promotional activities on Amazon throughout the year e.g. Prime Day, Black Friday/ Cyber Monday etc. Myself and the team manage the retail side of deals and promotions across the EU for all shoe brands (+100 brands currently).
Would you tell us some fun facts about Amazon that nobody knows about?
It’s a tricky one as there are so many fun facts all over the internet – but here are my personal favourites:
- There is an Empty chair in every meeting room. The reason behind is that the chair belongs to the customer which is essentially the key person from which we need to start working backwards.
- We never use power points in our meetings. All our meetings are based on a document, written in an Amazon-specific way.
- Whenever you join a meeting, the first 10 to 15 minutes are left to read a document. This allows everyone to be prepared for the meeting and discuss the subject in detail.
- There are 12 hierarchical levels, but there is no level 9. This is still very much a mystery to every Amazon employee.
As a conclusion – what would be your advice for students who are just starting their careers?
I believe persistence is a key to every goal you’ve set, so try to make the most of every experience. There is something to learn in and from every situation, which will definitely be valuable at some point in your career. One thing I’ve learned at Amazon and I often tell myself is: It’s Always Day 1.