2,500 job applications; 20 interviews; seven offers. And my current job at Amazon? It wasn’t even one of those applications. Graduating in April 2020, at the peak of the pandemic, was tough. Being on a tight timeframe due to my visa made it tougher. But what helped was my preparedness and my GRIT mindset; you could say my job search started as soon as I arrived at Hult.
On my third day on campus in Boston, in September 2018, I attended a careers fair and started to learn about the power of LinkedIn. Coming from India, where LinkedIn isn’t extensively used, I assumed applying for roles was just a numbers game. What I learned was that, here, recruiters are super active, and they use pretty much every space on your profile to work out your fit for a role. The next day I asked my advisor for help; that’s when I got started on my own personal brand. It didn’t come easy—it took many iterations. Once I understood the LinkedIn algorithms, I looked at my dream companies—Amazon, Google, McKinsey—and looked at my background, and asked myself, where would I fit? As a holistic candidate, as a brand, what was I trying to convey?
Once I tapped into my combined experience in chemical engineering, management consultancies, and energy companies, I optimized my profile and set myself up to target opportunities in the renewables and sustainability space. Suddenly all of these companies started reaching out to me about these roles, these new positions. I wasn’t even applying. What I learned was that, although a recruiter may look for keywords, a hiring manager is more interested in your story. Who are you? What do you do? Where do you come from? You need to understand what makes you special. So, dream companies started reaching out—but the process of securing my job was not easy. I had one interview in Boston and had just arrived from the west coast when the hiring manager called to say they’d moved the whole meeting online. That’s when I realized the magnitude of the pandemic. The most difficult part was the not knowing, the ambiguity of the future. Moving from in-person to completely online brought challenges—not being able to see the interviewer’s body language, or read those small tells that suggest what they might be thinking so you can adjust your answers—that was challenging. With Amazon, I had reached the deep-dive round which would be 6-7 hours straight, all virtual. During that time too in California, because of the COVID-19 situation, there were blackouts constantly in my area.
I called up the dean in San Francisco and told him the situation. I asked him, “Can I come to campus to give my interview?” He let me. My interview started at 8am and was scheduled to last until 5pm. It was just the dean and me. He was there to make sure that nobody else came on campus, so I could stay safely in one room the whole day. He was kind enough to make sure that my laptop was at face level—he suggested putting books under it to make sure the background was good enough for the interview. He was very helpful and gave me his feedback after each round. As soon it was over, he was like, “I think you got in”. [laughs] Once I got the job, the whole onboarding process was completely online. Till now, whenever someone got into a FAANG company, you’d hear about their experiences—how interesting it was to see those buildings, meet the teams, see how they function, and check out all their benefits and canteens and everything. I realized I wouldn’t be able to do that, at least for a while. Trying to figure out how I could earn the trust of my team, as someone just on a screen, took some time professionally.
My goal is to move the needle on climate change. I work as an energy data program manager. Amazon has a goal of being net carbon zero for all their operations by 2040. What I’m proud of over here is that my work affects one million Amazon employees. Who else can get one million people to move towards sustainability? Right now, even governments don’t care about it. The GRIT mindset I mentioned: it stands for generous, resilient, impactful, together. I realized that I’ve been following this without defining it—through my journey through Hult, and now at Amazon. I’m generous with the things I’ve learned; resilient in my approach toward my goals; impactful to anyone that asks for guidance or help; and always trying to build a network in which everyone supports each other.