Note: This post describes my first week at Amazon, but it is important to note I am a single intern describing my personal experiences. Thus, the views presented here are my own and do not represent Amazon as a whole.
Hi, my name is Jacob Shiohira, and I am interning at Amazon in Seattle, WA as a Software Development Engineer Intern in Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cryptography. One of my main goals this summer is to do a better job around documenting the process and my experiences ? both for myself to reflect upon and prospective Amazon interns to learn what interning at Amazon is like. I have not decided on the frequency of my posts (weekly updates versus updates for major milestones), but I will figure that out as we go. Without further ado, let?s get started!
Week One: Arriving in Seattle & First Days at Amazon
Comparable to internship programs at other companies, Amazon groups intern start dates based on when the students finish school. My May 7th start date was the earliest start date of the summer, so there were only about 100 other interns that started on the same day. There will therefore be many more waves of interns starting throughout the summer.
My early start date meant that I finished finals week just 2 days before flying out to Seattle (May 5th). The transition was both quick and exciting. I drove home after I finished my last final, had a day to pack, and flew out at 6:30 AM the following morning. I was welcomed to Seattle by clear, blue skies and unobtrusive shadows cast by golden rays of sun.
Flight to Seattle
As soon as I landed, I took a Lyft to my apartment for the summer in downtown Seattle. Companies allow interns to choose between corporate housing and a stipend. There are pros and cons to both options, but I took the stipend, allowing me to choose where I wanted to stay for the summer. I am living with a friend and my freshman year roommate from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Jacob. He is working for Microsoft this summer. It is interesting because we are both double computer science and mathematics majors, so we often refer to ourselves as Jacob-Squared, or ?the other Jacob?. Anyways, we chose to live in the Mill at First Hill. It is a short 10-minute walk from Pike?s Place with beautiful views during my walk to work.
My Apartment Building for the Summer!
The not-so-luxurious part about this option is that our apartment came completely unfurnished. So, our apartment still looks pretty sad, but it is slowly coming along ? thanks to Amazon Prime! Naturally, as college students, my roommate and I opted for some cheaper furniture options from Amazon, and had some fun while furnishing our apartment.
Compensating for our lack of chairs
Starting at Amazon: Truly Day One
View from my Office at Amazon
My first day at Amazon (although it is famously always Day One)
I am incredibly lucky to be a part of this large team of outstanding missionaries who value our customers as much as I do and who demonstrate that every day with their hard work. As always, I attach a copy of our original 1997 letter. Our approach remains the same, and it?s still Day 1. ? Jeff Bezos
mainly consisted of new hire orientation (NHO) ? breakfast, presentations about Amazon?s leadership principles, expectations for the internship, and lunch. I enjoyed Amazon?s very organized processes before my first day because I spent no time filling out paperwork. NHO was a great opportunity to meet some of the other interns and a few Amazon employees. The opportunity is one of the best part of internships. There are students from all over the country that come to a single place for 3 months, and it is a great way to converse about a variety of topics. Additionally, it can be surprisingly fun to hear other peoples? stories ? yes, even the software engineer interns talk to each other 😉 After finishing NHO by early afternoon, I picked up my laptop (you already know I am #TeamMac), backpack, and accompanying cables. Fortunately, the IT Services team at Amazon had already delivered and setup my monitors. All I had to do was show up at my desk and plug in my laptop! Since I?m in the AWS organization, I was placed in the building named Port 99. Amazon is famous for giving all of their buildings unique names that tie into the company history. I was escorted to my building by a recruiter where I then met my team, manager, and mentor; and learned more about what the team and my project for the summer.
Intern Swag from Day One
Settling In: The Rest of Week One
On Tuesday, I spent most of the day setting up my MacBook and desktop for the development I will be doing this summer. The process was a little confusing but overall cool. I was even able to learn about quite a few of Amazon?s internal tools and technological infrastructure along the way. I then had SDE bootcamp on Wednesday and Thursday to help with the transition of new developers to Amazon. We learned what it means to be a SDE along with many of the tools and processes we will encounter. The speakers and instructors were all Amazonian veterans, so it was fun and quite insightful to hear them speak about their experiences. When I wasn?t in bootcamp, I rounded out the week by meeting with all of the members of my team because I wanted to get to know them a little better and also learn more about what the team has worked on, is working on, and plans to work on in the near future. All of my team members are so nice, incredibly smart (like, reeeeeally smart), and have interesting backgrounds. It is not always possible to do this sort of thing, but I definitely recommend doing something similiar for anyone starting an internship. Interns usually only spend 3 months at a company, so the sooner you can dive in, the better. After all, your team members will be the ones that you will be asking for help when you need it ? notice I did not say if. 😉
Tips for Week One of an Internship
The start of an internship can be exciting, overwhelming, and busy. However, it is really important to establish a solid foundation that you (as an intern) can build on the rest of your internship. So, here are a few things to consider doing during the first week:
- Complete all suggested (or required) onboarding
- Fill out W4s and payment information ? getting paid for your work is always good
- Become familiar with some of the general development environments, infrastructure, and build tools. You will use them throughout the summer, so the sooner you can understand them, the better.
- Definitely talk with your manager about setting up weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, ask questions, etc.
- Work with your manager or mentor (if you have one) to define project goals, expectations, and timelines. It is beneficial for all parties involved to develop a shared understanding of these things to help you be successful and hopefully receive a return offer at the end of the summer if that is your goal.
- HAVE FUN! It is not everyday that you have the opportunity to start an internship, so it is important to enjoy the experience, meet other interns and full time employees, and just take everything in.
Outside of Work ? Exploring Seattle
Throughout the week, my roommate and I had some time to explore Seattle. One of our mandatory stops (per my request) was to stop by Amazon Go because who doesn?t want to try shopping at a store without cashiers!? We tried our best to trick the system, but Amazon correctly identified our purchases despite how many items I picked up, added to my bag, and later put back on the shelf.
Throughout the week, my roommate and I spent some time just walking around downtown Seattle since it is so close to our apartment. One of my favorite things to do in the city is just start walking. There is so much to do and see in this city that having a planned outing can interfere with some of the most unique aspects of the city. So, we would often just left our apartment with no idea where we were going.
View from the Apartment Rooftop Deck and the Seattle Waterfront
Friday finally came, and we spent some time just walking around Seattle. We started in South Lake Union (SLU) near Amazon?s campus and made our way all the way up to Gas Works Park just in time for sunset. Here are some of the fun photos along the way.
Wow! You?ve made it to the end of week one with me. Thanks for reading ? I hope you enjoyed seeing and hearing about what it is like to start an internship at Amazon in Seattle. I look forward to sharing more my summer experiences.