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Ahead of HQ2 decision, Amazon recruits heavily from Triangle universities


UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School is home to a new health and business program. 

Even though Amazon may not choose Raleigh to house its new headquarters, the company continues to have strong ties with North Carolina.

The company is one of the biggest recruiters for graduates of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and has worked closely with the school over the last couple years.

“We have long cultivated a strong relationship with Amazon and their HR team,” said Leslie McDow, senior associate director of employer engagement and recruiting at Kenan-Flagler. 

McDow said a strong connection between Amazon and Kenan-Flagler started in 2015. The school hosts informal meet and greets with Amazon recruiters along with company presentations. They also interview the second-year Masters of Business Administration students in the fall to look for potential employees after graduation. Nine students in the current graduating cohort have already accepted a full-time job offer.

“The work environment here is fast-paced and continually evolving, and every Amazonian is passionate about ownership and delivering results for the company,” said a statement on Amazon’s university recruiting page on their website. 

McDow said students are generally drawn to the name brand appeal of working somewhere as large as Amazon and the atmosphere of Kenan-Flagler generally correlates to being a good fit at the company. 

“Our students are highly trained in leadership, and they’re really trained to work collaboratively, ” she said.

There are also a number of graduate and undergraduate students who will intern with Amazon while they are in school and then have a job ready for them at graduation. First-year MBA students are usually interviewed for the program in January. Out of the current first-year MBA cohort at Kenan-Flagler, 10 students plan on interning with Amazon this summer. 

“Amazon as a company is extremely fast-paced," said Karan Virani, a second-year MBA student who interned with Amazon last summer and who plans to work there after graduation. “It has young individuals working towards a common goal.”

Virani said Amazon had extremely high expectations for all during the time he worked there from the top executives to those in his position. He was looking for a goal-oriented environment, which he believed he found there. He also admired how Amazon has been able to grow in the last 15 years and dive into new markets that were previously thought to be unreachable, such as the movie industry. 

During his internship, Virani worked on an independent project to help increase profitability and customer selection. He said the curriculum at Kenan-Flagler helped him prepare for his internship, and he was able to connect with students who had already interned with Amazon about how to succeed with his interview. 

“I was given complete ownership to design the project goals,” he said.

Kenan-Flagler is not the only North Carolina school from which Amazon heavily recruits — the corporation looks for graduates from other local universities with strong programs, such as Duke’s business school. 

“It is real work that has impact, and that’s another draw for our students,” McDow said. 


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