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Left to right: Gerald McAlister, Jaimee Purcell, Adam Fendley

Working at Amazon: Students Get Tips from Three Alumni

As tech giant expands in Virginia, a wealth of opportunities emerges.


As Amazon is expanding its Virginia footprint, it is quickly becoming one of the region’s largest employers and is extremely attractive to tech-savvy Christopher Newport students as they consider potential career options.

Amazon employees Gerald McAlister (‘14), Adam Fendley (‘18) and Jaimee Purcell (‘18), all recently returned to campus to talk about the company, encourage applications and network with current students. They participated in a number of events organized by the Department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering (PCSE) and held in conjunction with Homecoming weekend.

“Amazon is one of the Big Four tech companies and obviously highly sought-after by graduates from around the world,” said PCSE Chair Dr. Anton Riedl. “Having Gerald, Adam and Jaimee provide insights into the company and, in particular, the application process is extremely helpful. It gives our students a leg up as they prepare for a career as software developers. We are lucky and very grateful to have such wonderful alumni!”

At “Amazon Coast to Coast,” the three alumni shared their experiences and career tips with PCSE students. They discussed what it is like to work at Amazon and how to best prepare for the application process, then spent time networking with students and answering individual questions.

“Amazon looks for new hires who are great at what they do and love to innovate and question the status quo,” Fendley said. “Of equal importance is that they are also good citizens who are thoughtful about the purpose and outcome of their work and have the communication skills necessary to share their thoughts and ideas with others. Christopher Newport students naturally have a leg up thanks to the University’s focus on curating well-rounded students who can excel not only in a classroom setting, but who are also engaged in their communities, vocal about their beliefs and eager to use their talents to make a difference.”

McAlister, who had come from Seattle for Homecoming, also attended the PCSE honor society induction ceremonies. Echoing his years as a student deeply involved with campus activities, he mingled with PCSE faculty, students and their parents at a reception after the ceremony.

McAlister said he was inspired by his conversations and saw it as a way to pay forward the benefits that he had received as a student at Christopher Newport. McAlister also made a generous donation to PCSE in support of its student clubs.

"Working at Amazon has been a rewarding experience,” McAlister said. “I've had the opportunity to meet and work with amazing people, broaden my skills as an engineer and work on amazing products. It's been an incredible opportunity out in Seattle, and I'm glad to have been able to take it."

Fendley, McAlister and Purcell completed Homecoming with a stop by PCSE’s football tailgate where they reconnected with faculty, friends and other alumni. “It was such a great experience to come back to campus and meet with the students and faculty,” Purcell said. “As a recruiter and a recent graduate, it was a pleasure connecting with the students and providing insight into future career opportunities, especially since I was in their position not too long ago.”


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