September is the start of the academic year for many students across the U.S., but they aren’t the only ones nervously anticipating their first day in the classroom. Every year, thousands of Amazon employees also go back to school—either on their own or through the company’s continuing education program—to earn degrees and certificates that will help them advance their careers. Here are five ways Amazon supports employees who choose to continue their education.
1.Prepaid tuition programs
Amazon is committed to helping employees learn and grow. One way we do that is through Amazon Career Choice, Amazon’s education and skills training benefit for eligible employees, including hourly operations and corporate employees.
Through the Career Choice program, Amazon prepays tuition for employees pursuing associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and professional certificates. The program also supports employees who want to earn their high school and GED diplomas, or take foundational training, such as English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. As long as employees work at Amazon, they can continue to participate in the Career Choice program—there is no lifetime limit to the amount of financial support they can receive.AWS brings in-person, interactive learning to Cape Town with the first international AWS Skills CenterAWS Skills Center Cape Town provides fun, interactive exhibits in the cloud discovery space, and offers free foundational cloud training for anyone curious about cloud computing.
Since Amazon launched Career Choice in 2012, more than 150,000 employees around the world have participated in the program, continuing their education or receiving training for high-demand occupations, such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided designers, commercial truck drivers, medical assistants, and more.
Haileigh Johnson joined Amazon in 2020 as a seasonal tier one associate while attending Arizona State University to cover her tuition out-of-pocket. “For a lot of people, the financial aspect of college is a really big setback and barrier. The tuition assistance I received through Career Choice changed this for me,” said Johnson. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership through the Career Choice, she moved into a new role as an Area Manager. Through Career Choice, Johnson graduated early with no student loan debt last December.
2.Work, school, and home-life balance
Most adults juggle competing priorities. One of the most common concerns expressed by employees who are considering going back to school is how to balance their coursework with other responsibilities, such as work and childcare.
To help employees achieve balance, Amazon introduced a temporary school schedule adjustment policy, which allows employees who are enrolled in formal education and training programs to request adjustments to their shift schedule as school-related needs arise.
The Career Choice program also offers career coaching to help employees explore different career paths and identify the program or school that will help them meet their professional goals. This benefit is available beginning on the first day of employment with Amazon. Conversations can be scheduled around an employee’s schedule and are conducted via phone.
Michael Paniagua started with Amazon in November 2020 as a warehouse safety specialist and is currently studying for a business degree with a minor in psychology at the University of Maryland Global Campus.More than 1 million Amazon employees worldwide now have access to virtual support for in vitro fertilization, adoption, egg freezing, and other family-building benefitsAmazon employees and their partners can get virtual support from Maven Clinic for everything from preconception to surrogacy, in 50 countries around the world.
“I was never planning on going back to school, but I had a goal for my career and didn’t want to risk being passed up for promotions because I didn’t have a degree,” said Paniagua. “I love helping people. While I was showing an associate where to learn more about Career Choice, I decided to sign up and schedule a call for myself with a career coach. The coach was able to help me think more about what my end goal was, figure out the best path to take, and decide what school I wanted to attend.”
Amazon also offers resources to support employees, including employee students. Programs such as our 13 affinity groups, the Amazon Mentoring Program, informal mentoring circles, and other employee resource groups can help employees connect with their peers or leaders who might have similar experiences. These types of resources offer opportunities for internal and external networking, peer-to-peer connection, and support. Amazon is also piloting a new community group specifically for employee students.
In addition to career coaching, Amazon offers free mental health counseling through its Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Resources for Living. Employees can use the EAP to get support with any issues they’re grappling with—including navigating career pivots and balancing competing priorities.
The EAP provides employees and members of their household five free counseling sessions per issue per year, 24/7 mental health support through Twill, and community-based family and peer support via National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It also provides free financial counseling to help with debt management, budget creation, savings plans, and overall financial wellness and education.
Regardless of where employees are in their careers or what their career goals may be, Amazon encourages all eligible employees to use these programs and benefits, including Career Choice, the Amazon Mentoring Program, and the EAP. Business is changing more rapidly than ever, and it’s critical that we all continue to learn, grow, and prepare for what the future holds.