Challenge the status quo: Why Amazon is trialling over 120 interns

s, and consumer. 

Amazon Australia’s student programs lead Theresa Dang said the program has grown exponentially in the last few years, and the business focuses on bringing in students that are the right fit for each department.

“Our internships are dedicated towards candidates that are in their penultimate year [at university], and they join us for a 12-week period between November-December and January-February,” Dang told Inside Retail

“We work with the university on timing so that it takes place when they’re on holidays, and we give them experiences working on real-life projects [and] networking with our staff.”

At the end of the process, the hiring managers discuss the performance of the interns and whether they will receive an offer for a graduate role. Most interns will still have a year of university to complete, however, so Amazon puts these candidates into a program it calls ‘Embark’. This is a three-to-six month onboarding process that trains staff up through self learning and classroom training, as well as access to a ‘buddy’ at the company that can help them get acquainted with the ins-and-outs of the business. 

New faces, new ideas

The key to these programs, Dang noted, is a culture of nurturing development within the business that helps to support Amazon’s workers, and allows for a workforce with diverse skill sets and experiences.

Many project leads are often surprised by how competent their interns are, and have lauded the quality of ideas coming from them.

“They really challenge the status quo within our business, so it’s really exciting for Amazon to grow and bring in this young talent,” Dang said.

“Our senior leaders really want to nurture and develop this talent, but they’re also learning new things from these students.”

According to Dang, new features have been developed for Amazon’s intranet or its customer-facing app based on ideas from interns. After all, the business wants to keep the lines of communication between team members as open as possible.

“For us, it means that if you’re coming in with less experience, you can still have a say; you can still think we can do better, talk to senior managers, and benefit the business.”

How to woo young workers

Many parts of the retail industry are still struggling to hire and retain talent, with the Great Resignation having segued into the Great Attrition, or the Great Renegotiation, according to McKinsey & Company.

“What we are seeing is a fundamental mismatch between companies’ demand for talent, and the number of workers willing to supply it,” McKinsey recently published in a joint paper.

“There is now a structural gap in the labour supply because there simply aren’t enough traditional employees to fill all the openings… to close the gap, employers should try to win back non-traditional workers.”

With fewer people looking for jobs, it falls to businesses to find new ways of reaching potential workers – be they seasoned or inexperienced. Younger workers have different needs than more experienced ones, however. 

Younger workers aren’t usually anchored down by mortgages, dependents, and other responsibilities, and so instead value flexibility, career development, and meaning in their work ahead of a big salary, according to McKinsey.

“An appealing value proposition for these workers would include pairing traditional tuition subsidies with flexible work schedules to accommodate classes, along with development programs that offer clear advancement trajectories,” McKinsey wrote.  

“Anchoring these measures in purpose and investing heavily in the day-to-day interactions that build a high-quality culture can help create an even more enticing recruitment package.”

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