At our weekly New Hire Orientation, everybody gets exactly the same kind of identification badge. The photo ID badge is edged in blue, and Amazonians keep their "blue badge" for years – until they get yellow, red, purple, or silver badges to celebrate their 5th, 10th, 15th, and even 20th "Amaversaries," as work anniversaries are called inside the company.
In 1994, when we started with only three people in Jeff Bezos' garage, everyone was brand new. This year, with hundreds of thousands of Amazonians around the world, we reached a hiring milestone in our hometown, surpassing 45,000 Seattle-based employees.
We sat down with five of those Amazonians. Read on to learn what drew them to Amazon in the first place and why they've chosen to stay and build their careers.
20+ yearsSilver badge
Greg Hart: During my interview loop, I was struck by the intelligence, passion, and energy of the people I met, and by their conviction — which I shared — that Amazon had the opportunity to change the world. As Jeff has described it, we were a team of missionaries, not mercenaries, and that creates an exciting atmosphere. Of course, we didn't know if we were going to be successful in capitalizing on that opportunity, but it became clear very quickly in the interview discussions that no matter what, I was going to learn a lot, get stretched in new ways, and have a great time doing it. And even if it didn't work out, and the company went bust like a lot of other startups did, I would have benefited from the experience.
What's always kept me here is that the things that brought me to Amazon in the first place have remained true: I continue to be fortunate to work on things that I believe make a difference and have a big impact for our customers and for the company — and I get to do that with people who are smart, passionate and fun, and want to deliver. And I'm still learning, every day.
Also, I think the company is pretty unique in that you can reinvent your career as many times as you want. I've worked in our retail business in a range of different roles and segments, I've worked in our devices business, and now I'm working in our digital media business. The opportunity to shift roles and shift industries creates incredible scope for personal growth and career growth.
15-20 yearsPurple badge
Janice Dearlove: When people offer their opinions, you're not likely to hear someone say, "Well that came from a purple badge. So that must be really important." You can be here two months, and you might have an amazing insight, and we'll listen to you.
Having said that, I've been in meetings where we've had a number of purple and red badges, and you can feel that there's a lot of experience in the room. I like having that, especially when we have big, thorny issues to work through. Just hearing how other people have invented especially Amazonian ways of getting around difficult roadblocks is extremely helpful.
A couple years ago, I took a leave of absence to care for my mom who was ill. I used that time to think: what do I want to do, where do I want to go next, do I want to stay?
I narrowed it down to a few things that were very important to me. I want to work in a space where I can innovate and grow a business. I want to work for a great manager. I want to work on something customer-facing. I want a role where I can work hard, but I can also have a good life outside of work. I chose to stay at Amazon because the opportunities I found here matched those criteria.
10-15 yearsRed badge
Muge Erdirik Dogan: I was a research scientist. I have a Ph.D. in optimization. I really liked my field, and I'd invested so much in it already. So I was a little skeptical coming into my Amazon interviews. But I fell in love with the company, with everyone who interviewed me that day.
One great thing about working here is that I still feel like I'm a scientist. We work on these very hard but fascinating problems that have not been solved before. We run a bunch of experiments. We use data and intuition. And the best thing, compared to another research environment, is that you get your feedback much faster. Because customers will tell you. They'll tell you if they like something, and they'll tell you if they don't.
These experiences we end up launching for customers, none of it is a one-person effort. It's a collaboration, sometimes across many, many teams. So getting a new badge color is a great moment to pause and kind of reflect back and celebrate it with all those teams, all those amazing people. I'm super proud to be an Amazonian.
5-10 yearsYellow badge
Jenna Powers: I was not a runner when I started at Amazon. At all. I ran my first marathon four years ago. It was a bucket-list item. I was going to check it off and move along, but it became one of my biggest passions. Since 2014, I’ve run 43 races of marathon distance or longer.
People often wonder how I fit long runs into my schedule. I prioritize it.
You can't have eight passions or hobbies and make time for all of them, so it’s necessary to pick the one or two things that are really important to your wellbeing and not compromise on them. For me, it's running.
Having a great group of colleagues who support your passions outside of work is crucial. And I do – sometimes we have early morning meetings for international projects that interfere with my morning run. So I ask myself: "Can I delegate this meeting to someone on my team?" Other times I say: "I will be on the phone but will not able to contribute. I'll circle back after." Because I'm on mile four.
My background is in law. I left law because I felt like I was a lot more creative than I had the opportunity to be. Coming to Amazon, I got to use all that creativity. I would have ideas, and I could just go do them, in ways I can't imagine you can do at another company — because of bureaucracy, because of "Well, that's not your job." I love that Amazon isn’t that way.
0-5 yearsBlue badge
Michael Fong: I have always strived for a career where I'm doing something positive, where I'm making some type of change. I started out in customer service and then finished up my schooling, and then I took on teaching roles. When I transitioned to the corporate world, I needed to gauge how I would be able to continue to give back. Then, I realized that The Spheres are a large-scale version of what I was doing in the classroom, trying to get my students fascinated with the world of plants. Amazon offers a larger platform where the team can reach out to help people understand what plants are and what it is we do.
The gravity of this project continues to draw me in, but it's also the people. It makes work something to look forward to. Nobody on the team feels that there's only one way to do things. We're always eager to hear each other's ideas. Things are dynamic but fluid. I constantly find myself engaged and wanting to do my best.
Some of my friends just literally say, "You have the best job in the world."