Everybody knows Amazon, the trillion-dollar website that can deliver your package in less than a day. But few understand it like Maurie Andino. A rising senior accounting and finance major, Andino recently finished an internship at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters working on the Statement of Cash Flows team. “It’s a little bit daunting working with people who have this level of experience in the field,” said Andino. But he found that the team was very supportive.
Like all business majors at Union College, Andino is required to complete an internship to graduate. “I’m a testimony to the power of just applying for what you really want,” Andino said. “I didn’t have a personal connection, just a Google search. I didn’t think I’d get the job, but it never hurts to try.”
From online informational sessions to résumé screening, nothing seemed out of the ordinary from a usual internship application. But next was something that only big corporations do: aptitude and cultural tests. Amazon’s aptitude test is designed to sift out 50-80 percent of candidates. After a series of interviews, including two with senior managers, Andino was one of the few to receive an offer to join Amazon’s headquarters this past summer.
“Working for Amazon is a bit different from most other companies,” Andino said. “The difference starts with the number of digits on our balance sheets.” The team documented and reported everything Amazon does from delivering packages to streaming video to telehealth sessions. “It’s easy to feel the importance of our work when it affects so many millions of customers and investors every day.”
The Cash Flow team at Amazon consisted of six full-time employees plus Andino as the intern. Andino explained that their work included overseeing and submitting the statement of cash flows for the entire company, domestically and globally, to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Most of the company’s accounting systems are fully automated, making compiling financial statements easy … in theory. Andino’s work at the beginning of the summer was focused on documenting the oddball transactions that the software isn’t coded for. Once the rules of those transactions are determined, they can be automated. The later part of the summer was devoted to comparing 17 entities owned by Amazon to document the differences between their accounting systems.
Andino said he learned some hard skills like database queries, but added that “the main thing I’ve learned, and I’m learning still, is that no matter how intimidating something might seem, if you approach it with energy and a willingness to learn, you can overcome whatever problem you have. And you can enjoy doing it…The next time something seems impossible or too big for me to handle, I’ll have the confidence to teach myself and overcome it.”
Gabriel Sanders is a sophomore English major at Union College.