We recently connected with mothers across Amazon who are pivoting into new careers, pursuing higher education, or taking on other challenges with help from our free upskilling programs. Like Ana Rojos, a 51-year-old mom of three who wanted to pursue a technology degree, but wanted to get her high school diploma first, or Kerri-Leigh Grady an apprentice who hopes to help other military parents and spouses continue their careers. We wanted to learn what inspired them to enroll in the programs and where they are now.
In addition to offering competitive benefits and paid parental leave, Amazon supports working parents and other employees with free upskilling benefits like Career Choice. The program offers employees access to prepaid college tuition and high school diploma and GED programs, English language courses, and industry certifications. Amazon also offers paid apprenticeships and free skills-training courses through other upskilling programs.
Here are five mothers who recently took part in one of these programs—and their advice for fellow moms in the workforce.
1.It’s never too late to earn a degree
Ana Rojas, who works at a fulfillment center in Nevada, wanted to finish her education after raising her three kids and pursue a degree in technology—but she wasn’t sure where to begin. Then she found Amazon’s Career Choice program and our partnership with Career Online High School.
Rojas enrolled in April 2022, earned her high school diploma in less than a year, and plans to enroll in college programs to study information technology. She also completed a career certificate in professional skills development.
Her advice to other working moms: “Anyone can accomplish anything they put their mind to—it doesn’t matter how old you are.”
2.You can juggle multiple schedules while pursuing your passions
Kay Cee has limited time between raising her 5-year-old daughter, working as a teacher’s assistant, and working full-time at an Amazon fulfillment center in New York. But she always knew she wanted to finish her college degree.
She is currently enrolled at Onondaga Community College and taking classes in early childhood development, in a degree program through Career Choice. She credits her time as a teacher’s assistant with finding her passion.
"After I had my daughter and was working for the school district for some time, I realized working with children was my calling. It was right in front of me," she said.
“The advice I have for other moms juggling multiple jobs or going to school is to keep going. There will be days where it gets extremely hard, and there will be self-doubt, but you need to remember to focus on where you’re going—your babies are watching,” she said. “There will be hard work and plenty of tears but also success, growth, and plenty of smiles on your journey.”
3.Look for job opportunities that will be in demand in the future
After serving in the U.S. Navy, Maria Cross joined Amazon five years ago and worked at a sort center in Ohio. She is now enrolled in Amazon’s Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship program and focused on completing her on-the-job learning and training. She’s looking forward to becoming a full-time mechatronics junior technician at a robotics facility in Virginia.
“I was inspired to pursue the apprenticeship program because I wanted to find an area of work that will be in demand in the future. As a young girl, I always enjoyed taking things apart to see if I could put them back together and get them to work correctly, so this program was a great fit,” Cross said.
As a mom of a blended family with seven children, Cross said she prioritized having a stable income and quality benefits—two things she appreciated having the first day she started at Amazon. After finishing her apprenticeship, Cross hopes to become a trainer on Amazon’s Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering team to train other apprentices.
Cross said her advice for other moms is to “look for a career change or opportunity that will take you into the future.”
4.Accelerate your language skills
Originally from Haiti, Guerda Garner moved to the U.S. in 2003 after meeting her now-husband, a Pennsylvania native. She began working at Amazon as a seasonal associate in 2016, then left to raise her kids. She returned to Amazon last year as a full-time associate at a fulfillment center in Pennsylvania.
She recently completed the English language proficiency classes offered through Career Choice, with education partner EnGen. Garner said her confidence has grown since finishing the program.
“People may be shy to talk because they don’t want to make a mistake, but we learn from our mistakes. Don’t be shy. Open up your mouth and you will get there,” she said. “And if somebody doesn’t pat your back, pat your own back. We have goals to achieve.”
A mom to three children, including twins, Garner plans to continue using Career Choice’s “limitless learning” benefit to earn her high school diploma. Ultimately, she wants to earn a certificate to teach other language learners, specifically children and young people.
5.Support other military spouses and parents
Kerri-Leigh Grady joined the Amazon Technical Apprenticeship Program in 2021 as a software development engineer apprentice in Seattle. She applied to the program, which is certified by the U.S. Department of Labor and offers paid and intensive classroom training along with apprenticeships, after a friend told her that Amazon Web Services was a great place to work for military spouses.
A military spouse for over 26 years, Grady was looking for a way to reenter the workforce after raising her children. She wasn’t finding roles that fit her previous experiences and multiple military relocations.
“The apprenticeship program has been a godsend, offering a path into a career that will extend past my husband’s military career and the obligations of being the primary caregiver to my kids while my husband is deployed,” Grady said.
After experiencing the challenges of getting back into the workforce, Grady hopes to help others in similar situations.
“I want to continue to help military spouses find portable, flexible careers in technology,” she said. “It’s my goal to be part of the tide that lifts all ships, so I’ll always focus on ensuring others have the opportunities they need to have the careers they want.”