What are you doing this summer? We asked rising second-year MBA students to check in from their summer internships, where they’re applying the lessons of their first year at Yale SOM.
Mitchell Lang ’22
Internship: Amazon Prime Video, Seattle, Washington
Hometown: Perth, Australia
Clubs and Affiliations: Future of Mobility Club, Yale Grad Crew
Favorite SOM Class: YCCI Discovery Project
Favorite SOM Professor: Nils Rudi
Favorite New Haven eatery: One6Three—especially the sweet salami!
During the summer of 2021, I drove across the country to Seattle, where I interned at Amazon Prime. In the lottery of Amazon placements, I was excited to work on a product that I spent a lot of time on as a customer. Working in person at Amazon allowed me to take advantage of the free Seattle coffees and community banana stand, meet interns from other schools, hear whispers of the new shows and sports coming to Prime Video, and enjoy the 90 days of the year that it doesn’t rain in Seattle.
I spent my time at Prime Video working within the Personalization and Discovery team, which owns the recommendation algorithms that choose which videos to show you on your homepage. The goal of my project was to determine how Amazon can show the right videos, to the right people, at the right time.
The Yale Center for Customer Insights (YCCI) Discovery course at Yale SOM helped me to develop the skills I needed to put the customer first, which is one of the key principles of the Amazon culture. I put into practice the YCCI hypothesis-led approach at Prime Video, diving deep into the customer experience to generate insights and then to quantitatively test each insight. During the YCCI project I also learned the power of combining data with customer anecdotes to tell a compelling story about user needs. A quote from a customer describing their experience, backed up by data, resonates more deeply with stakeholders than data alone. Using this methodology, I presented core customer problems to the leadership team at Prime Video and outlined the experimentation roadmap for 2022. The internship was an incredible experience to learn more about how recommendation algorithms work and how streaming platforms balance the short-term and long-term needs of customers.
P.S. If at any point your Prime Video went down for a couple of hours during the summer, I promise it wasn’t me!