Amazon: Delivering expertise at the Haworth College of Business

When Kalin Currie, B.B.A.’20, began her career at Amazon, she knew her background in management and data analytics would prepare her to tackle the challenges before her. Did she envision a pandemic that would result in skyrocketing demand for home delivery of consumer goods? No. Did she navigate that challenge, along with her colleagues at Amazon? Yes. And her WMU education helped her to be successful while working in the most fluid of situations.

“My WMU business education and experience definitely provided me the knowledge and skills to hit the ground running at Amazon,” says Currie. “That foundation serves me well as I continue to learn and grow as a leader.”

When Currie began thinking about how she could give back to her alma mater in her role as an area manager, she saw an opportunity for a win-win for WMU Haworth and Amazon. She contacted the Department of Management to see how Amazon might engage with students to build a stronger recruiting relationship and forge an overall connection with the college.

She, along with two other colleagues from the company, visited the college in October to provide students in the Business Enterprise course an overview of Amazon distribution operations, the value of a business education, and opportunities at Amazon, highlighting the need to study hard and seek internships and other experiences to help build their resumes. Currie was joined by Medina Alic, B.B.A.’18, operations manager, and Andrew Johnson, assistant general manager for the Amazon Grand Rapids Fulfillment Center.

The course in which Currie, Alic and Johnson spoke—primarily composed of first-year students—uses hands-on activities such as simulations and company analysis projects to teach business operations, and students found the Amazon visit a prime opportunity to get greater insight into what they have been learning.

Student in front of class giving presentationEmma Harris, a student in the Business Enterprise course, enjoyed the visit. “Having former WMU students come back to a class that they once sat in to tell us about their journeys at Amazon was very encouraging and exciting. Some of the connections my classmates and I were able to make from their presentation included how the work we are putting in now is going to apply to our future career paths and how the resources we have on campus make a difference.”

Presenters spoke on specific examples, relating class content to their current roles at Amazon, and the alumni shared experiences they had during their time at the Haworth College of Business.

Harris notes, “A big lesson of the day was how taking advantage of the resources here at WMU can really set you apart in the job search and your career in general.”

Corporate culture was also a central point in the discussion with students. “What really resonated with me was finding the right fit with a company’s culture and mission,” says Megan Klein, another student in the course. “Right now, I'm looking to find a company to intern with this upcoming summer, and I know that a lot of other students in my classes are as well. Finding an internship with a company that reflects your personal values is so important because it really should be a company that you can see yourself with long-term, so Amazon's emphasis on that during the visit here was really interesting to me.”

In the future, representatives from Amazon and leaders in the college plan to explore increased recruitment through the Zhang Career Center, more guest speakers in courses, and other engagement activities for students.

“We really appreciate our graduates maintaining connections with WMU, sharing their successes with students and opening up opportunities for continued collaboration and growth, says Decker Hains, chair of the Department of Management.  “We really appreciate Andrew, Kalin, and Medina taking the time to engage with our students and look forward to a continued partnership with Amazon.”

Learn more about programs in the Department of Management.