(Updated at 5:25 p.m) Amazon drew an overflow crowd to its Crystal City career fair this morning as people vied for the 30,000 jobs Amazon recently announced it’s hiring nationwide, including at its new HQ2 in Arlington.
At last minute, the company tacked on extra hours to the event, which was one of six job fairs Amazon held as it looks to fill 30,000 jobs nationally — including 1,600 jobs in Virginia and 400 in Arlington. The fair was held at The Grounds at S. Eads Street and 12th Street S. today (Tuesday), leading applicants toting resumes to line up along 12th Street almost to the Route 1 overpass.
“I would say that we are incredibly pleased, and humbled, by the response from the community, ” said Amazon’s Vice President of People Operations, Ardine Williams. “I’m not sure what we expected but it’s what we hoped for. This is just amazing.”
Around noon Williams offered tips about interviewing for the company’s jobs (show leadership), writing resumes (be specific), and what the company culture was like (permits failure) in an on-stage conversation with Linda Thomas, a former Seattle journalist who now leads in-house content creation for Amazon.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about what we’re doing to ensure that there is a pipeline of talent. We came to Arlington because of the talent,” Williams said.
The head of hiring noted that the D.C. area’s universities were a big part of that pool and the company’s strategy for thinking of the 25,000 people it plans to hire for its new headquarters over the course of the next 10 years.
Thomas touted promotional videos throughout the event, which showcased Amazon’s decision to raise its minimum hourly wage to $15 last year for all workers, after facing criticism for the conditions in its warehouses.
Some job seekers at the Crystal City fair today wore fitted suits with ties knotted four in hand, while others chose more casual attire — with one job seeker wearing cargo shorts and a Nirvana t-shirt.
Vindyashree Kadolkoor, 29, is a student from Southern India now living and studying computer science at Georgia Tech. She said she hopes to find a job at Amazon that will allow her to follow her passion for machine learning and artificial intelligence — skills that other universities are keen to provide a pipeline to the company for.
“My dream job would be a full stack engineer, I want to own the product,” said Kadolkoor, adding that living in the D.C. area would also be ideal. “I actually love this area. This weather is awesome!”
Once inside the company tent, some people took selfies in front of branded backdrops. Others lined up at two dozen booths with recruiters specializing in careers in Amazon’s divisions for Prime, Kindle, and Web Services while DJs blared lyrics from Benny Blanco and Calvin Harris’s song: “Now my world is never changing/There’s anything I can do/’Cause I found you.”
Kumar Saket, 24, is from Kolkata, India, studies information systems at University of Maryland, and wants to work as a data scientist for Amazon. He said he didn’t expect to see such long lines at the job fair when he came in what he thought were “off peak” hours just before lunchtime, but he wasn’t deterred by the competition.
“I am getting more excited to just work hard and get into it,” he said.
Rocco Esposito, 25, a 2018 Business Master’s graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, wasn’t sure exactly what job he wanted at Amazon, but thought his skills would be a good fit for a business analyst position.
Espito, who grew up in Pittsburgh and said he travelled to visit friends in the D.C. area often, said that another reason he wanted to work at the company’s new headquarters in Crystal City was to help “figure out a way to help with the advancement of [Arlington] so that it’s not just a better place for myself and the companies — but also everyone else who’s living here at the same time.”
Not everyone was happy about the way the event was organized. One local questioned the heavy security around the event. Another would-be attendee said the line was excessively long this afternoon.
“They told us to register, and then when we got here, the line was ridiculous crazy, several blocks long,” the tipster wrote. “Minimum wait time is 1.5 hours. My thoughts — if you didn’t get here this morning, don’t bother! If you come, bring a lawn chair!”
In all, several thousand people attended today’s event as of 5 p.m.
— Tim Barber (@ABC7TimBarber) September 17, 2019
Since starting up in April, Amazon has so far hired 70 employees in Arlington, Williams told ARLnow.
She said the company was still on track to hire 400 people for its new Arlington headquarters this year as its ramps up construction on its temporary headquarters in Crystal City and seeks final approval for its permanent HQ2 in Pentagon City.
Jay Westcott contributed to this report