What It’s Like To Intern At Amazon

“I think the biggest thing that I’ll take away from this internship is that it’s opened my eyes to the working world. Because the internship was immersive, we got to see what it would be like to work here full time. There was lots of guidance concerning what I should expect after college.”


How He Got There:

Amazon Campus

Amazon Campus

Ofir Zigelman grew up in Israel, served in the Israel Defense Forces’ elite intelligence unit, and is now working on two degrees – an MBA at the Wharton School and an MPA at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is about to enter his third and final year of the combined program, and spent the summer interning in product management at Amazon.

“I chose Wharton because of its academic rigor, and Harvard Kennedy School because I wanted to learn more about globalization and economic development,” Zigelman said. “Amazon gives you a lot of ownership, even as an MBA intern, to solve big and interesting problems. I was given a project this summer to work on that will have a direct impact on the experience of hundreds of millions of customers and how they interact with Amazon.”

After deciding to apply, he says the hiring process was very efficient. “I met with a few Amazon people over a few days, and I had an offer shortly after. The hardest interview question was when I was asked to design a new digital product for Amazon. I was asked how I would manage it, and when I answered, it turned out that my interviewer was a product manager who was actually working on something very similar.”

Zigelman says that the purpose of questions like that were to see if he understood tech trends, and to find out if he had the appropriate combination of analytical and qualitative skills for product management.

After he accepted his offer, and after he finished the school year, Amazon helped him relocate, setting him up in company housing close to the Amazon campus.

Work Hard. Have Fun. Make History:

This summer, he interned as a product manager in Amazon’s Search and Discovery group, and he says he started each day by presenting what he was working on to the group. “It’s a good way to get feedback,” he says. “I’ve worked in a tech environment before, but this internship has still been different from a typical business environment. I got to work closely with developers and experts, and then go back to my desk and analyze how that affects the product.

“Amazon Search and Discovery helps hundreds of millions of shoppers – spending tens of billions of dollars annually – find what they want, get what they need, and discover what they’ll love. The group is obsessed with automation, leverage technologies, and massive amounts of data and machine-learning.
“I mostly worked with engineers and machine learning PhDs, so it was a very exciting environment to be in.”

Additionally, he says he got to work with teams in London, India, and China, and that it was very interesting seeing how product management works internationally.

“Wharton’s MBA is a very data-driven environment, so analytics and product management weren’t new to me. At the same time I definitely learned a lot about refining a product into something that customers will love. It’s been very interesting to see how Amazon thinks about what their customers will want. It will definitely be valuable to anything that I work on in the future.”

Zigelman says that Amazon’s motto “Work hard. Have fun. Make history” accurately depicts how things are at the company. “One of the highlights of this summer was that everyone I worked with was really smart. It’s a culture that encourages debate and getting to the bottom of things to find the right answer.”

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