Between navigating stimulus checks and rising unemployment levels, many students were able to find employment through jobs at Amazon warehouses.
In March, Amazon announced IT would hire over 175,000 temporary full- and part-time employees across North America, 125,000 of which would have the potential for staying with the company. In June, officials at Chattanooga’s Amazon distribution center said the site has doubled its workforce to over 3,000 employees since January and is still hiring.
“Amazon pays a minimum of $15 per hour across the U.S.,” said Noah Collins, a sophomore biology major who worked at an Amazon warehouse this summer in San Bernardino, CA. “During my first month of work, it was actually $17 an hour because of COVID before going down to $15. They also gave me a $300 bonus this summer for being employed during COVID, so they paid well.”
Job responsibilities include, but are not limited to, scanning packages to be sorted to their respectable locations, as well as unloading, sorting and reloading packages.
“I worked as a picker,” said Alex Thompson, a junior computer science major who currently works at the Amazon Warehouse in Chattanooga. “The job is fast-paced by nature and includes a significant amount of walking. So before the day, I like to make sure I’ve eaten well, gotten enough sleep and have mentally prepared myself. The job can be tough, but I have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.”
Something that stuck out to Collins was the diversity within the workplace.
“The variety of people really shocked me,” said Collins. “There were people like myself working as students, single mothers, people in their 40s and 50s and some in their 70s and 80s. It truly was the most diverse community that I have seen.”
Additionally, students felt the community at Amazon was generally kind.
“People were really nice,” said Alyssa Wolf, a sophomore social work major who worked with Collins in San Bernardino. “We bonded over how difficult the work was.”
“Almost everyone was very kind, making conversation and going out of their way to befriend me,” Collins said.
While students recognized the benefits of working at Amazon and expressed their appreciation of the wages and consistency, the job had its downfalls.
“The work was hard,” Wolf said. “But mainly because it was so monotonous and there was not much encouragement. They didn’t train us really well. I had to learn on the spot and a lot of people felt like they couldn’t approach some of the bosses.”
Byron Montenegro, a junior nursing major who worked at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Inman, SC, said that after a month, despite enjoying the job as a whole, the monotony “physically and emotionally drained” him.
“I would do it again for the summertime,” Montenegro said, “but not as my full-time job.”
At the end of the day, while Collins said working at Amazon can be labor intensive and monotonous, it also upholds the benefits of a relatively high hourly wage, a good amount of hours and a consistent schedule.
“While it isn’t my ideal job, the pay, the hours and the schedule are worth it,” Collins said. “I would not hesitate to work there again in the future.”