George Mason University

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No tech degree? No problem. He still gets to work at Amazon

September 7, 2019   /   by Damian Cristodero

Cameron Isaac said the skills he learned as a conflict analysis and resolution major at Mason transferred perfectly to his job at Amazon. Photo provided.

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.

Cameron Isaac, BS conflict analysis and resolution ’11, is an executive design recruiter 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; Taylor Cacciotti, information technology '19; 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 Rajitha Devabhaktuni, a cloud security engineer, MS computer engineering ’16.

The thing about working at Amazon, Isaac says, is you don’t necessarily need a tech degree or tech background to land a position with the tech giant. There are plenty of job opportunities in design, product and program management, public policy, communications, and instructional system design that do not require experience in that space.

“It’s really more about someone who will always work to better our customers’ lives, is scrappy, and who can bring ideas to life,” Isaac says.

Take Isaac, who uses his degree in conflict analysis and resolution to help him succeed in a position in which he recruits, interviews, and evaluates those who wish to join Amazon’s senior design leadership. Isaac says the analysis and negotiating techniques he learned at Mason, as well as the art of how to break down and understand complicated and hot-button issues, are the foundations for his work.

For example, while his favorite part of the job is hunting for prospects and exploring through interviews whether they will be the right fit for the company, he also enjoys picking the brains of the senior leaders who are looking to hire and learning through their experiences.

“It’s understanding how to go more in-depth with people right off the bat,” Isaac says. “Once you can go in-depth and understand a leader’s vision, their roadmap to goals and product launch, and understanding what their skill gaps are, you are going to be able to bring in people who are going to be a better fit than just a body.”

Isaac came to Mason from Northern Virginia Community College. And though he diverted from his original goal of working for the U.S. State Department as a foreign service officer, he says his Mason experience is invaluable.

“I use what I learned at Mason every day at work,” says Isaac, who works out of his home in Richmond, Virginia. “For conflict analysis and resolution, the biggest takeaways I had from those courses is your approach with people. What I learned was seeking to understand as much as you can in a short period of time, how to analyze data, and using it to drive toward a solution.”

Topics: Amazon