SEATTLE – Brittany Stanton spends her days working on environmental sustainability. Evenings are for coaching the Roosevelt High School girls lacrosse team. Weekends are for exploring the Cascades — "me, the fiancé and the dog in the mountains," she says.
Despite that very Seattle profile, Stanton has been in town less than a year. The 29-year-old moved here in June for a job at Amazon, one among thousands of people the retail giant added to its workforce in its hometown last year.
Stanton, who previously worked at Target in Minneapolis and had lived her entire life in Minnesota, manages Amazon's effort to place solar panels on the roofs of its warehouses. Her fiancé found a job at Starbucks' corporate headquarters.
"The basic Seattle couple," she said.
Amazon now employs more than 45,000 people in Seattle, up from about 40,000 last summer, the last time the company disclosed the size of its workforce in its hometown.
The company has added an average of more than 5,000 employees in Seattle each year since 2011, turning the South Lake Union neighborhood into a corporate office park and fueling a citywide real estate boom.
In the process, the company has symbolized something of a monolith, a single word of explanation that locals deploy to describe a range of phenomena, good and bad.
The cranes that dot the city. The party full of newcomers. The jump in home values and the number of people who are priced out of the housing market. The legions of 20-somethings crowding the neighborhood taprooms and buses.
Beyond the caricature of Amazon workers as coders from other countries focused on their high-stress, high-turnover jobs, the company is a collection of people that defy easy description.
They are a mix of software engineers and salespeople, business analysts and product designers, graduates of elite private schools, Midwestern land-grant universities, and Indian engineering centers. Some came to the area to work for Microsoft or Boeing first. Others had never set foot in Seattle, or the U.S., before a job offer from Amazon.
They're not all in software, it turns out — two-thirds of the company's employees here do something other than software engineering, Amazon says.
And though they come from diverse backgrounds, there is some commonality. Amazon, particularly in the past 10 years, has served as a magnet for ambitious people.
"We're all kind of drivers," Stanton said.
The company strives create tools "that can be reused as much as possible," said Mike Carr, a vice president who oversees teams working on the digital plumbing behind the scenes of Amazon's retail websites.
A year ago, Carr's team designed a training course to get new workers ramped up without an employee having to spend hours charting the unit's structure on a whiteboard. It was partly a response to Amazon's prodigious hiring, partly a classic Amazonian effort to engineer in some efficiency.
"It's often a frenzy around here," Carr said.