Analytics at Amazon

December 6, 2017

Last summer, Master of Science in Business Analytics student Hitesh Rana got a taste of analytics in action during his three-month internship at Amazon in Seattle, Washington.

A second-year student in Haslam’s MSBA program, Rana's job search revealed that Amazon was looking for data analytics personnel. After a successful interview, Rana accepted an internship offer and joined Amazon’s Featured Merchant Algorithm (FMA) team. FMA runs an experimental platform to validate the impact of its model on customers. Tracking millions of customer visits per day, the platform runs a statistical measurement to quantify the results.

“They asked me to set up an analysis layer on top of the existing platform,” says Rana. “I had to design and build a tool that allows for tracking of experimental results and metadata, generates results summaries and notification emails, enables tracking of model feature weights, and includes an experimental post-mortem tool to determine the drivers of experimental conclusions.”

A year of immersion in the MSBA curriculum helped prepare Rana for his internship project.

“I’d gained knowledge of statistics and learned how to build models, and I used those skills in my internship,” he says. “I had a good starting point of technical knowledge to build on.”

Amazon gave Rana a great deal of freedom in how he tackled the assignment.

“It was a very ambiguous project, and I was very autonomous,” he says. “They gave me a description of the project, provided me with all the resources available at Amazon, and wanted to see what I’d come up with. It was a really good learning experience using some tools I’d never used before and learning from the other data scientists.”

After the successful internship, Rana knew Amazon was in his future.

“They wanted me to come back, and I have the option to either return to the FMA team or go to a different team,” he says. “I’d like to go back to the same team, expand on what I was working on during my internship and continually build on my technical and business expertise within the domains of data science and business analytics.”

In addition to yielding a full-time job after graduation, Rana’s internship gave him invaluable real-world analytics experience.

“There were so many interns at Amazon, and we learned from each other every day,” he says. “They were using different tools and doing completely different things. The underlying principles are the same, but there’s no one right way of doing analytics. The bottom line is finding out how you can get more value for your customers and employers.”