Our Tech Zone at the 16th annual NW Youth Careers Expo will once again feature some of the most vibrant and innovative technology firms in the Northwest. One of those firms is Amazon Web Services. AWS joined forces in 2015 with Portland-based Elemental Technologies, a company that makes software that allows videos to stream online. (The late Sam Blackman, Elemental’s co-founder and CEO, was a former Portland Public Schools student.) AWS clients include ESPN, Comcast, HBO, the BBC and many others. Amazon Web Services is a Diamond sponsor for the 2020 Expo.

Emily Barrett, Community Ambassador at AWS, engages with students at the 2019 PWA Career Day with AWS.

In preparation for the 2020 Expo, we spoke to Emily Barrett, Community Ambassador for AWS, about the work done by AWS and how high school students can prepare to work in the tech industry.

What can high school students do now to prepare for working somewhere like AWS?

Computer science and software development are certainly primary roles, but there are opportunities across just about every skill and job you can imagine. An interest in technology and a desire to build new things and obsessing about customers are the biggest prerequisites to work at AWS! Most roles do require a college degree or equivalent experience in a professional setting – which is how many folks join after military service, after college, or after a career.


Amazon Web Services Logo AWSTell us about how AWS supports its community. What work is being done here?

At Amazon, we are focused on helping more children and young adults have access to the resources and skills they need to build their best future. STEM and computer science are a big piece of that. Our Amazon Future Engineer program supports hundreds of thousands of students each year across the country, with access to computer science education, with a focus on students and schools in underserved and underrepresented communities. Here in Portland, Amazon and Amazon employees donate to volunteer with more than 30 nonprofits, such as ORTOP, AKA Science at Impact NW, Free Geek, OMSI, and the STEM Program at the Community Cycling Center.

What happens when high school students visit AWS in Portland?

The Portland team loves to host high school students, and we most commonly hear from them surprise at the diversity of roles (it’s not all coding.) My colleagues is love their jobs – and they’re willing to talk extensively about them and to share how others can being their professional journeys. We build out the day with hands-on activities, and bring a couple of the activities to the Career Expo. These activities give students an opportunity to learn first-hand what AWS Elemental does specifically, and how its video processing solutions help customers. They’re fun, and they provide a chance for students to chat with us about the varied ways of getting to work here!

Who is the tech sector best for?

Everyone! The best thing about the tech sector is how excited people are to have and build new things, to share and develop big ideas. We need everyone, because everyone loves to solve problems!

Tell us about the work done by AWS and AWS Elemental.

For 14 years, Amazon Web services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. AWS offers over 175 fully featured services from data centers globally. AWS Elemental, an Amazon Web Services company, combines deep video expertise with the power of the AWS cloud. Solutions from AWS Elemental allow broadcast TV and multiscreen video to be customized, originated and monetized at global scale, and give global media franchises, pay TV operators, content programmers, broadcasters, government agencies and enterprise customers the ability to deliver highly differentiated viewing experiences. This gives customers the freedom to focus on what matters: transforming ideas into compelling content that captivates viewers.

2020 Expo Exhibitor Highlight: Amazon Web Services
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