Back in my sophomore year in undergrad, I got obsessed with doing Software projects unrelated to my coursework. It all started when I was selected to build the website for my college’s business and management festival called Consortium’s website. Here is the Wayback machine’s snapshot of what is looked like. C and Data Structure coursework in my freshman years had completely put me off and got me disinterested in learning programming (blame the super theoretical teaching methods?). Learning to build websites with JS, PHP, MySQL in a team gave me the much needed confidence and exposed me to several Software development lifecycle approaches and problems of collaborating in team projects. I still chuckle imagining how we used to share code among ourselves as zip files (we didn’t know what Git was).

Finally in Oct 2020, I was awarded the coveted “Just Do It” award by Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon in the company-wide All Hands meeting. Every year this award recognizes select few employees who exemplify two of our core values: innovation and bias for action by creating an impact on their own outside of their day job.

My intrapreneurship effort over the last 3 years in creating the platform “Amazon Gather” has been incredibly useful to several thousand Amazonians for exploring interesting virtual events and meet like minded people. In the wake of COVID-19, this has helped people connect virtually and feel secure. It is humbling to see my brainchild, which I started as a side-project materialize into a global team of engineers taking it to the next level.

Joining a huge corporation like Amazon as a fresh grad could be overwhelming at times but I followed by personal mantra of “don’t wait, just innovate” and identified a key area where I can make an impact. Amazon’s culture provided me with the wings and the resources to shape this idea into the product it is today. Based on my personal experience, I encourage new grads to keep innovating and with perseverance I’m sure it will be a rewarding journey.

Rajat Shah receiving the Just Do It award