Amazon offers a number of skills-training, networking, and development programs to help employees advance their careers. We spoke to five Amazon employees about their experiences with these programs, and asked them to share their top tips for finding your path, developing your skills, and building connections.
Talk to a career coach
When Robelynn Suarez wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her career, she signed up to meet with a career coach through the Amazon Career Choice program. The new benefit, which was introduced last year, allows eligible employees in the U.S. to connect with a coach starting on their first day of employment.
“It was hard for me to decide what program I wanted to go into, so I talked to a career coach to get advice on the next steps to take,” she said. “The coach I’ve been working with has helped me research schools and realize that I’m passionate about human resources.”
Robelynn is currently an associate on the Workforce Staffing team based in Seattle, WA, and hopes to pursue a certification in human resource management.
Hone your leadership skills
There are many ways for employees to hone their leadership skills inside and outside the workplace—including formal development programs. Leadership Liftoff, a seven-week onboarding program, is available to new operations managers at Amazon, which provides training in giving and receiving feedback, supporting employee development, and much more.
Cedric Harris, an area manager at the Amazon Air Hub in Lakeland, Florida, wanted to pursue a leadership role after being hired as an entry-level associate. After being promoted, he attended Leadership Liftoff to enhance his skills.
“I learned about empathy and built lifelong connections with other area managers,” he said. “This program has also showed me the investment Amazon makes to develop great leaders and inspire confidence, competence, and connectedness.”
Connect with your manager
Maintaining open lines of communication with your manager can work wonders for your career, particularly if you’re eager to move up the ladder. Many Amazon employees use a tool called Ingenii to have more productive and guided career conversations with their managers. Ingenii can be customized to employees’ needs, whether their goal is to get promoted, learn new skills, change roles, or grow within their current role. Managers can also help identify stretch assignments or new teams to work with to expand or develop your skills.
“Before Amazon, I was looking to transition into a career in tech, and I had heard great things about Amazon’s apprenticeship program,” said Annie Pineda, an Amazon employee based in Seattle. “My managers encouraged and supported me throughout the program. When I was ready to move on, they helped me pursue a new role in program management. Today, I’m a program manager on the Inclusive eXperiences and Technology Communities team.”
Build mentor and mentee relationships
A mentor is a great resource to better understand company culture and learn from someone else in the same field—or an entirely different field.
Amazon's Mentoring Program helps employees build trusted relationships, expand their network at Amazon, and learn about other parts of the business. The program offers more than 100 mentorship pathways in various formats, including 1:1 mentoring, as well as group mentoring with peers, which we call mentoring circles. For employees who aren’t looking for a formal mentor, Amazon’s 13 Affinity Groups offer opportunities to connect with others from similar backgrounds or circumstances.
The right mentor should be able to meet their mentee where they are, which could mean offering encouragement, helping the mentee navigate manager or stakeholder relationships, or introduce them to helpful contacts, depending on what the mentee needs.
“There are several great takeaways from running a mentoring circle and being a mentor,” said Ernan De La Rosa, loss prevention site lead in Wisconsin. “I have made it a point to keep the lines of communication open as I strive to teach mentees how to build their leadership skills, coupled with their personal and professional growth, through networking, sharing information, and asking questions.”
Explore growth opportunities
As part of our peculiar culture, Amazon encourages internal transfers as a way for employees to continue challenging themselves, while exploring new parts of the business—or even new types of jobs. Internal transfers are a great way to continue learning, develop new skills, and grow in new ways. They’re also a great way for you to build your resume.
Andy Parra started at Amazon as an intern in Tennessee, and over the past 10 years, has had eight different jobs in various Amazon operations sites in the Puget Sound area. When asked how he was able to grow and find new opportunities, Parra credits Amazon’s internal transfer system.
“Transferring internally allows you to learn something new, and take on a different challenge. Being exposed to different levels of expertise, job families, and projects outside of my comfort zone has been incredibly important for my career,” he said. “Transferring has helped me understand my own knowledge gaps when it comes to other areas of the company, and be better prepared with development plans to close those gaps.”
At Amazon, we are committed to hiring and developing the best talent, and have programs and systems in place to develop a network of leaders throughout the company. At the same time, we encourage employees to take ownership of their careers, as Robelynn, Cedric, Annie, Ernan, Andy—and many others—have done.