Amazon.com: Pratyush Nalam
In this edition of Insight’s summer blog, Pratyush Nalam talks about his internship at Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer.
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As you all are probably already aware, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer. It also produces consumer electronics and is a major producer of online cloud services. Naturally, getting selected to intern here was like a dream come true for me.
I got selected on campus through the PT Cell in what was a fairly straightforward selection procedure. There was a written round followed by two rounds of technical interviews. It was the usual set of standard algorithmic questions which decided whether you were hired or not. I was placed in the Hyderabad campus.
What sets Amazon apart?
Amazon lives and breathes frugality. It spends only on what is absolutely necessary, ruthlessly cutting away any extras. It might be hard for you to believe but even top executives at Amazon only travel economy class on business trips. In fact, it even gives awards to employees who demonstrate novel ways of cost-cutting – whether it is in the office, in the warehouses or in the transportation system.
The other thing which sets apart Amazon is its relentless focus on cutting down prices for the customer, immediately passing on any cost reductions it experiences to him / her. Here, the customer is truly king. Every decision taken is analysed on how it will benefit the customer. Only after joining did I understand why Amazon calls itself the “world’s most customer-centric company”. Everything revolves around the customer.
The Internship Experience
For the most part, interns are treated as employees. Every intern gets a laptop and desktop on the first day. You even get headphones and docking stations on request. It is really cool. Every new intern and employee go through what is called an SDE Bootcamp (where SDE stands for Software Development Engineer). The Bootcamp basically explains to you how code is written in Amazon – the various build systems, development environments, version control systems and so on. It also has some videos to explain why Amazon does whatever it does. By the way, I was in the Transportation team at Amazon Hyderabad.
Amazon doesn’t actually have an operational office of its own just yet. The office I worked in was in an IT park called Q-City. Amazon had a couple of floors to itself and frugality is demonstrated even in the way the office is laid out! Cubicles are pretty close to each other and the surroundings are mostly grey, orange and green. Spectacular in nothing but their dullness. Like I said, Amazon is the last place to expect fancy stuff!
So what was I working on?
My work was configuring the promotional content on Amazon’s shipping labels. It is a project with immediate impact. I have completed my internship and I must say it has been a fantastic experience. The employees are very helpful wherever they are. Well, that’s because I contacted guys in Bangalore, Seattle and London whenever I was stuck. Everybody is so helpful and it was really encouraging. You never feel stuck in no man’s land. The work atmosphere is also pretty nice and casual with no unnecessary rules, hierarchy and the like.
Hyderabad, the city
Technically, Hyderabad is my native place though I have never stayed here except for my internship last year as well (which was in Electronic Arts) and my summer vacations. This is a city almost overflowing with history. There are many historical places like the Golconda Fort, Charminar and Qutub Shahi Tombs. Even I haven’t been everywhere. Then there are water parks like Ocean Parks and Jalvihar. Water Kingdom (near Mumbai) is miles ahead in comparison, though. Then there is Snow World which is actually awesome, Hussain Sagar Lake with speedboats and a towering Buddha Statue and of course, the majestic Ramoji Film City. Then there are of course various malls, theatres and so on. I don’t find them so spectacular considering that the largest mall here (Inorbit Mall) dwarfs in front of R-City.
All in all, Amazon is a great place to work at. Of course it has its share of bureaucracy and office politics but that are to be expected from any big company. If you are a CS student, Amazon should definitely be on your radar (wishlist, even) as a company to work at. It will definitely be on my radar when I appear for placements this year! I hope this has been a helpful read for you and you can contact me via email at pratyushnalam[at]outlook.com for any questions you may have.