Allia Awad had never worked in a data center before joining Amazon.

She’s now a security specialist at an Amazon Web Services (AWS) data center in Virginia. Initially, Awad joined as an employee at an Amazon fulfillment center in the same area—a job she viewed as temporary while she figured out her next step.

While she was there, her manager asked if she wanted to learn process assistant responsibilities for a technical role.

“I was upfront that I’m not very technical, but I was willing to learn,” said Awad. “The hiring manager was super encouraging and welcoming. It gave me more confidence that I would be able to do it.”

After applying for the process assistant job and getting it, Awad decided she would like to pursue a longer-term career with Amazon.

She went on to become a security specialist after completing a month of fully paid training, both online and in person, as part of a newly announced work-based learning program called “AWS Grow Our Own Talent.”

AWS Grow Our Own Talent helps individuals with nontraditional experience and backgrounds develop skills in Amazon data center roles in the company through a combination of on-the-job training and placement opportunities. One of the program’s most unique aspects is that it’s open to people with little or no directly relevant work experience, and no college degree is required.

Grow Our Own Talent participants are hired for data center positions, such as data center technicians and data center engineering operations technicians, and they are provided with on-the-job training for up to six months.

Amazon’s more than 750,000 operations employees in the U.S. are eligible for fully funded college tuition, including cost of classes, books, and fees.

The program is hiring in North America, where it is part of Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 pledge to invest $1.2 billion to provide skills training and education to U.S. Amazon employees. The program is also hiring in Europe and Asia.

Cara Moore, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, had never worked in a data center before joining AWS. When the 26-year-old hospital device technician saw an advertisement for a three-month internship at Amazon, she applied.

Portrait of a woman who works for AWS
When people try to guess what Cara Moore does for a living, they rarely get it right. “Their jaw drops when I tell them I work in a data center,” said Moore.

“I didn’t really have a clue what it would entail,” she said. “I had touched on some IT basics in college, but the internship was much more in-depth. There were a lot of things I hadn’t seen before.”

Since joining AWS, Moore has quickly progressed, thanks to the Grow Our Own Talent program.

As part of her internship, Moore’s training involved shadowing a data center capacity technician. She was then offered a full-time role on the rack install team, a position that involves checking, installing, and testing new server racks.

“I was blown away the first time I went into a data center,” she said. “I’ve always been into technology and computers. I absolutely loved it."

Although she initially found the work challenging, Moore quickly ramped up with the support of her team and dedicated onboarding buddy. Now, she’s a buddy herself, helping other new employees find their feet.

Amazon’s new upskilling program is helping employees learn UX research and design skills to better their own career and boost the experience of Amazon customers.

“I suggested to my manager that I put together a guide to share all the things I’ve learned so far, as well as the things I’ve found hard,” she said. “I want to do it while the experience is still fresh in my mind.”

Moore said it’s hard to know what she wants to do in the future, because the field is so exciting and constantly changing.

“There are always new roles I haven’t heard of before. At the moment, I’m really interested in racks and other hardware. I’m taking online courses to further my knowledge,” said Moore.

“I’m always telling people that if they want a tech job, they should consider applying to Amazon, whether they have an IT background or not,” she added. “You can go down so many different avenues, and so many doors are open to you, which I think is amazing.”

AWS Grow Our Own Talent is hiring for roles in North America, Europe, and Asia. If you are interested in applying, visit the Grow Our Own Talent opportunities site.

Top image is of Allia Awad, a security specialist at an AWS data center.