What It Is Like Working In An Amazon Fulfillment Center

William Mashburn

wmashburn@lc.edu

 

Starting any new job can be difficult and confusing. Many of us know the worries and anxiety at a new workplace. It is a new system, new managers, new everything. This is how I felt starting at Amazon a couple of weeks ago. This is my way of explaining how I felt, and maybe it can bring some comfort to others who are starting up a new job. 

The first thing I had to do was apply, and just like any other job these days, the process was done online. One problem I struggled with was navigating the menus and pop ups. It was a bit difficult to find where I had to go and get confirmation on what I selected. Once I learned the main screens of the website, I was able to apply for what I wanted and needed. One thing I did like was an option to opt-in on text message updates for new shifts if you did not find the one you wanted. 

After the application process you will take a drug test and do a background check. These are usually taken at a building that will not be your primary work building. For me, personally, I went to St. Louis, Mo. and ended up working in Granite City, Ill. After those two things have come back you are possibly left with two choices. If everything comes back smooth, you will start on your original start date. However, if you are unfortunate enough to end up like me,  you will have to pick a new shift and start date. This can put you out of work for three days to over a week depending on when you put your two weeks in if you have another job. If this is your first job then you do not have that to worry about. 

Once all that is done you will start. On your day one, much like mine, you will go through a proper orientation. I got a safety walk, some training videos and of course a lecture about attendance and the notorious six-foot rule because of COVID. The best part about it is that you get paid for pre-day one orientation as well, which is just going over Amazon’s background and thanking you for choosing their company. Nothing too big. On your day one, you will be put to work on your assigned tasks. For me this was stowing and picking. I learned the routine pretty quickly and, overall, it is not a difficult job to do. 

Stowing is essentially taking items or packages off of the shelves and placing them into containers. That is all it is. The items and packages are placed on the shelves by people called buffers. They walk up and down the moving belts and take off the packages. This whole process goes on for hours. After that we move on to picking. 

Picking is just how it sounds. After stowing is done, all the containers should be sealed and ready to be taken off the shelves. To start the picking process you grab any cart in any section, use the handheld that hangs on your wrist, and choose a pick-list. You match the information on your handheld to the dry erase paper on both sides of the cart. Once you do that, the handheld takes you to an aisle and you find the section inside the aisle. Once there, you go in, take the sealed containers it needs and drag them back to the cart. You scan the containers onto the cart. One thing about it is the handheld will confirm or deny anything the whole time. This is very helpful to make sure you are doing the job right and putting the right containers in the cart. If your cart gets full or reaches the asked limit you hit “cart is full” and take it to the area it asked for. If you need a new cart for the same order, or a new order, you repeat the process for both. 

With me only working there three weeks, that is all I have been doing so far. I am super excited to learn to do other tasks such as the water spider position, delivery (to warehouse) tagger, etc. I am very happy to say that Amazon deserves that number two spot on the “Best Places to Work in 2020” list.

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