Anthony Vaillette was straight out of high school when he joined the Army in 1999. He says five years in the infantry taught him some great life lessons about resilience and perseverance. Those are skills he immediately put into practice when he left the military in 2004.
“As a security guard making $6 an hour at a ski lodge and having to deal with teenagers all day, the ability to ‘push through’ is critical,” joked Vaillette.
Over the next few years, Vaillette took on a series of odd jobs until he came upon a new Amazon facility in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania. He joined Amazon in October 2010 as a temporary warehouse associate.
An Amazon employee wears a yellow safety vest and pajamas celebrating Amazon Goes Gold.
“Initially, it was just another paycheck,” recalled Vaillette. “But that all changed when I got a new role on the shipping dock. It was a real turning point for me. I met my future wife on the dock, but I also worked with managers who truly inspired me.”
Within a couple of months, Vaillette took on critical roles on the dock and credits his new leaders with opening his eyes to possibility of a long-term career at Amazon.
“They motivated me to look at my options,” said Vaillette. “I also had a child on the way, so that was extra motivation for me to grow my career.”
As luck would have it, the impending birth of his daughter coincided with Vaillette’s discovery of the Career Choice program.
Amazon’s Career Choice is an education benefit program designed to help hourly employees grow their skills for career success. In January 2022, Career Choice expanded to include prepaid college tuition, new industry certifications, courses to improve English-language proficiency, and high school completion programs.
Vaillette signed up for a three-month computer course, which he said was challenging on a number of fronts. In addition to tough coursework, he was balancing his full-time job and fatherhood. Vaillette admitted that it was difficult, but he said that the Career Choice program was incredibly flexible.
“My daughter was born on the day of a test,” said Vaillette. “I wasn’t going to miss her birth. Needless to say, they let me take a makeup test.”
His daughter, Victoria, is now eight, and Vaillette said she is growing up fast. Vaillette’s career has grown as well. He has been promoted five times since he began working at Amazon and is now a site safety manager. Vaillette says Career Choice was instrumental to his career growth and not just because of the skills he gained.
“The program connected me with leaders who paved the way for my career,” said Vaillette. “Amazon has made career advancement attainable and affordable.”
Vaillette is a big advocate for Career Choice with his own team and says he hopes more people at Amazon take advantage of the benefit. He points to a Career Choice job board in his facility as proof that the program wants to provide more options for Amazon employees—whether that be inside or outside Amazon.
“That job board is full of roles outside Amazon,” said Vaillette. “Career Choice is not about helping Amazon … it’s about Amazon helping its employees improve and grow, and that is awesome.”