Internship at Amazon in 'something different' yields new skills and experience
By Katherine Adams
One of Sonia Tom’s goals while at University of Houston-Clear Lake was to get an internship at a global company like Amazon. As a senior majoring in information technology, she thought it would be helpful to get experience in something different, just to see how non-technical areas worked.
“I got an internship as a recruiter intern. After I applied, they sent me emails twice, but I thought it was spam!” she said. “After you send your resume, they send you an assessment. I didn’t think they were real, so I ignored it until someone from Amazon Student Programs reached out to me and told me to complete it.”
She almost missed an opportunity of a lifetime. “I went through an interview process that was humbling,” she said. “It was with two interviewers, 90 minutes long. I got the internship and I learned so much.”
Tom moved to Seattle for 12 weeks this summer and worked at Amazon Headquarters on a project team that focused on social media marketing, branding, and recruitment marketing. “I worked on social media tools and created processes and templates to help Amazon reach out to candidates,” she said. “I created a sort of internal Wikipedia, with a social media tool kit to help build out more tools and processes to help brand the company more.”
Daily, she researched what competitors like Microsoft, Google, Meta, Facebook and Netflix were posting and how their recruiters were reaching out to candidates.
“The project was to create a social media toolkit ‘Wikipedia’ for the Softlines Recruiting team at Amazon Fashion,” she said. The toolkit Wiki helped recruiters and hiring managers to use templates, including graphics and other tools to brand Amazon culture, celebrate each occasion or success, and post on social media platforms like LinkedIn.
“Helping to create graphics for the templates was definitely one of my favorite parts. I learned so much about how to be better at researching, marketing and branding,” she said. “I was expected to take ownership of the whole project, and was evaluated on the 14 Amazon Leadership Principals, as well as how well the project had been implemented in our work.”
Even though the internship was not directly related to her course of study, she said she learned that every company needed marketing and proven methods to attract good candidates.
“I always thought you get the candidate right away, but it actually can take months to get the right person for a role,” she said. “We research every single person and evaluate every person who interviews. Learning this made me better at reading resumes and learning about people’s personality.”
When she started the onboarding process, she said she was taught about recruitment marketing and how best to use LinkedIn.
“We had a manager take a photo of us as a team as part of the onboarding, and we were all supposed to create a post with hashtags and apply what we’d learned about branding,” she explained. “We all posted the same picture, but my post blew up. I got 10,000 reactions and over a million impressions. The PR lead at Amazon Student Programs reached out to me and asked to feature it on Geekwire.”
She said the post was noticed by a lot of people in the recruiting market and used her work as an example in other presentations.
Applying for an internship in a global company might seem daunting, but she said to keep trying. “You think tech giants won’t hire you, but you’re wrong,” she said. “Just make sure your resume is updated and don’t put in filler. Be honest and add the things you can talk about when they ask. You are always being compared to someone else’s resume, so always have something to raise the bar.”
Tom said she had a great experience and learned several key lessons. “Always show you’re willing to learn, share your ideas and be open to constructive feedback,” she said. “It’s not just about your GPA. You need to like being around other people and ask a lot of questions. They know you are an intern and you don’t know much, but they want to see you asking questions and wanting to learn.”
UHCL’s Strategic Partnerships connects companies, organizations and community leaders to students. For more information about how to get an internship, go online.