More than 500 George Mason University alumni work for Amazon at various locations around the country and the world, many for Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary that offers cloud computing services and has a major hub in Northern Virginia.
Taylor Cacciotti, who will graduate in December and is majoring in information technology, is a data center technician and one of several Mason alumni we will feature in the coming weeks who work for the tech giant.
Those include Jason Paul Pate, a systems analyst, BS information technology ’20; Rajitha Devabhaktuni, a cloud security engineer, MS computer engineering ’16; Prinkle Lopes, a cloud support associate, MS information systems ’18; Brandon Mohabir, a network technician, BS applied information technology ’15; and Rao Ahmad Rahil, a cloud support associate, MS telecommunications ’18; and Cameon Isaac, an executive design recruiter, BS conflict analysis and resolution ’11.
Cacciotti got his job as a data center technician at Amazon through a friend of a friend who connected Cacciotti with a hiring manager. Hired first as a contractor, Cacciotti became what he calls “a real Amazon employee” in September 2018.
Thank goodness, he says, that Mason offers so many online courses.
“I’m not just trying but succeeding in only doing online courses,” Cacciotti says. “Once I got this job, I kind of delayed my graduation by taking fewer classes a semester because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself.”
Cacciotti has varied tasks at Amazon’s Ashburn, Virginia, office, including servicing and diagnosing hardware problems and determining and repairing faults in fiber paths. He says his classes at Mason were the perfect training ground.
“Most of my classes in the IT major touched on hardware and what it does. And I took a networking class that was almost exclusively on fiber,” he says. “I was able to demonstrate that knowledge in the interview [with Amazon] and in my work.”
That said, it was the totality of the Mason experience that Cacciotti believes set him up for success.
For example, his capstone project, which he led for a semester, implemented a paid-time-off and work-space reservation system for a local company and was a real-world endeavor that provided leadership and teamwork experience.
“Having the ability to take online classes has freed up so many opportunities for me,” he says. “Without that, I would be at a huge disadvantage. It would be, like, ‘Decide whether you want to stay in school or keep this job,’ and I don’t want to be in that position.”
Especially with Amazon’s new headquarters already under construction.
“I think it’s going to provide a lot of opportunities for current Amazon employees like myself,” Cacciotti says. “My dream job is somewhere in HQ2. I just have to keep working toward it.”