Courtney Smethers’ path to success was 17 years in the making. She joined Amazon in February 2005 as a temporary associate at a fulfillment center in Fernley, Nevada. Fresh out of high school, she needed a job before leaving for college, and her parents suggested Amazon.
She didn’t understand why her parents thought she would want to work on a computer all day, which is what she thought everyone at Amazon did. She quickly learned that Amazon offered numerous roles that didn’t involve that kind of computer commitment.
Fast-forward to October 2005, Smethers returned to Amazon after her temporary work was complete, and met her future husband during orientation. This time, she would stay at Amazon. Her nearly two-decade career has included several roles and promotions, from picking and packing customer orders to working as an ambassador, a process assistant, and eventually the general manager’s assistant.
“Amazon is part of who I am,” Smethers said. “I grew up here. I met my husband here. I had my babies here.”
In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she helped the Operations Internal Communications team share important information with employees. A few months later, she officially joined the team to support communications for customer fulfillment associates. Smethers, who is now finishing her degree in strategic communications and will graduate this spring, said her experience helps her connect with employees across Amazon operations.
“Starting out as an associate, I've walked plenty of miles in their shoes,” she said. “In every role that I've had, I've always been able to bring that voice to the table and advocate for my friends.”
Smethers also has advice for employees: “Don't limit yourself. If there's something that you're passionate about, I guarantee there's a role at Amazon that would meet that passion and help you grow. When I joined the internal comms team, I was like, ‘This is everything that I've ever loved about every previous role that I've had.’"
“Your path doesn’t have to be what everyone else’s is,” she added. “Just take that next step.”
From there, Amazon encourages employees to define their own path. “We always say, ‘You should own your career at Amazon,’ and that's really true,” said Smethers. “I don't think anyone's ever handed anything to me. I've always had to work for it. I think that everyone has that opportunity to put the work in, be vocal about what they want, and go to that next level.”