If you get an internship offer from Amazon.com, one thing you need to decide as part of your offering package is housing option. Essentially you are given two choices: one-time stipend or Amazon-provided housing. The former is quite obvious—Amazon pays you a fixed amount of money and you are on your own. However, if you are like me, it may not be clear at first what Amazon corporate housing is like. Not only that you don’t get the stipend with this option, part of your salary will also be deducted for rental payment. Is corporate housing option really worth it?
With corporate housing option, an apartment unit is rented for you. The apartment could be one of many standard apartments in Seattle. As you may already aware of what corporate housing offers, here are the quick summary:
- Choose to live alone, or with a roommate in two-bedroom apartment. Obviously you pay less on the latter option.
- If you choose to live with a roommate, Graebel does roommate matching with another Amazon intern for you.
- The apartment is fully furnished. There are TV, internet, couches, dining set, and kitchenwares. Just move in and fill the fridge. In addition, one parking spot is included if you will be driving.
- Housekeeping service is included.
Simply put, the corporate housing option is favorable for interns. Living there for just 3 months, you might not want to go through the hassles of finding the places, buying furnitures, and so forth. Nevertheless, if you’re comfortable with those stuffs, the stipend option gives you freedom. Folks who find their own places could make extra cash e.g. by renting a place in some farther areas.
Last summer, I lived at this place with a nice roommate. The apartment was 15 minute walk to Amazon office in International District where I worked. While the unit was pretty decent, feature-wise, it was no way like the pictures on its website. If you’ve ever shopped for apartments, you probably know what I’m talking about.
A few suggestions
Whichever option you take, here are some tips to avoid surprises:
Graebel may not be your friend
If my experience is any indication, communicating with Graebel could be frustrating. In my case, I couldn’t reach my contact person until 3 days before my start date. That means flight ticket, housing, and everything had to be rushed in the last minute.
Know where you will be working at
Amazon offices used to scattered around buildings throughout downtown areas, depending on what team you will be working with. However, they had been moving to their new campus at South Lake Union and I assume that they are all at SLU now. Check with your HR person so you have an idea how your daily commute will be. Personally I find public transportation in Seattle pretty convenient. If you want to learn about bus routes check out King County Metro Transit.
Different neighborhoods in Seattle have different vibes. You may want to research on areas that you prefer or areas that you want to avoid. Although Seattle is considered a safe city, some people felt a bit uneasy in some downtown areas especially at night.
Don’t be fooled by pretty photos
When you are offered with a place, look it up online. See how the area is like. Find some reviews on Google Maps. The apartment website itself doesn’t tell you much. If you don’t like the place, you could ask for a change. After all, you will be living there for 3 months.
I hope this information helps a bit. Feel free to post questions about Seattle or Amazon internship in the comment below. You can also get in touch with me in Twitter (@ejel) too.