Interning at Amazon this summer as an operations manager, Neha Moolchandani developed skills in data visualization, statistical modeling and project management, while collaborating with cross-functional teams.
University of Alabama at Birmingham. Guided by these values, Moolchandani was selected for Amazon’s prestigious summer internship program.Curiosity, resilience and perseverance are the words that guide the life of Neha Moolchandani, a senior at the
“At Amazon, I was fortunate to be in an environment with endless learning possibilities that expanded my knowledge and skills,” said Moolchandani, a Nashville, Tenn., native. “It was truly fulfilling to cultivate my knowledge in alignment with my aspirations.”
According to her, the best thing about working at Amazon was “whatever I craved for, I could learn,” she said.
“For example, if one day I wanted to learn about machine learning, I could just go, network and learn about it,” said Moolchandani, who is majoring in computer science in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “If I was curious about robotics and the systems, I could go tour a robotics facility and chat with the developers about them. Amazon actively fosters integration among diverse groups of people — an aspect I truly appreciated.”
Moolchandani, an Honors College student, came to UAB on the pre-medical track. Soon she discovered she was passionate about technology, robotics, machine learning and AI, and she switched her major to computer science. To further feed her curiosity and love for learning, she is minoring in mathematics and Collat School of Business’ information systems.
Out of enthusiasm for the tech industry, Moolchandani was dedicated to finding the best computer science internship to grow as a leader and professional. She applied to many internships and received an offer from Amazon, among four other big tech companies. After going through five interviews at Amazon, she was selected for their prestigious summer internship program.
“I enjoy challenges, going out of my comfort zone and developing my professional skills,” Moolchandani said. “I knew I had to be resilient to ensure I found the right fit for me at this critical time in my career, so I submitted dozens of applications. When I received the offer from Amazon, I was deeply grateful.”
Moolchandani was an operations manager for a given facility, analyzing data, managing projects, formulating business development strategies, and programming applications to ensure efficiency and long-term success. Her main project was implementing electronic automation. In just 10 weeks, she not only developed and implemented the project, but also took initiatives on five other projects, saving $100,000 in total for the facility.
Throughout the internship, she focused on evaluating Delivery Estimation Accuracy metrics and ensuring each week orders were making it to the customer on time with few to no hiccups.
“Amazon is very customer-obsessed,” she said. “If the customer says they want the package tomorrow, we will do everything to make sure they get it. The most important thing for Amazon is its delivery-estimate accuracy, which I tracked using hundreds of metrics to ensure packages were delivered on the promised date and time.”
Her internship concluded with a final presentation with the senior leadership, who applauded Moolchandani’s curiosity, resilience and diligence.
“I was honored to hear remarks about how I have set the bar high for interns at Amazon and have accomplished their goals in my brief time with them,” Moolchandani said. “I fit well into the Amazon culture and would love to work with them full time after graduation.”
Moolchandani advises students to build relationships with people, be humble and kind, and most importantly, come to work each day with a positive attitude.
“I love getting to know people in all sorts of fields. These relationships are the reason I was able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. Communication and going above and beyond the expectations established me as a trustworthy professional,” she said.
Previously, Moolchandani worked at Nashville’s HCA Healthcare as a corporate data architect intern, at Microsoft as a program coach and at Birmingham’s NaphCare as a software development intern, contributing to her selection as an Amazon intern.
Moolchandani says she chose UAB because of its diversity, which includes skills and education disciplines. “You can think about UAB through any lens, and it is diverse,” she said.
Despite her transition from pre-med to computer science in her freshman year, she stayed at UAB because of the warmth and community she felt.
“I think what is special about UAB is the faculty who care about students and our success,” Moolchandani said. “There is a certain warmth you feel when you walk on campus knowing that people care about you.”
Moolchandani was also driven by the forward-thinking strategies of UAB as an institution, she says.
“It’s exciting to watch UAB on the horizon of becoming the STEM school of the South, proving its potential beyond health and medicine,” she said. “With a new Altec/Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building and the Science and Engineering Complex, I am inspired by UAB’s commitment to STEM development in our region, and that’s why I stayed at UAB.”
Moolchandani is a leader on UAB’s campus — her most notable roles include president of the Society for Women Engineers at the School of Engineering, co-founder of Association for Computing Machinery, student adviser for computer science, and Honors and CAS ambassador. In the fall, she will be a teacher’s assistant for Computer Science Data Structures and Algorithms and a Data Science intern at the Magic City Data Collective.
As a proud member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), my wife has been on strike for over three months. If you think that means she’s not working, think again. Picketing in a hot labor summer is harder than regular work. So much so that, to get out of picketing, she prefers to do things like drive two hours to show up at a board meeting of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and explain why, as shareholders in Netflix NFLX , Amazon AMZN , and Disney, CalSTRS should pressure companies to get back to the bargaining table.
Unfortunately, studios have taken a more belligerent approach. During the second week of the strike in May, NBCUniversal commenced sidewalk-obstructing construction on the west side of its Universal Studios lot, forcing picketers to dodge traffic on busy Lankershim Blvd. Then a few weeks ago, just after 11,000 striking writers were joined by 160,000 better-looking actors, a dozen bushy Ficus trees that had provided NBCUniversal picketers with much-needed shade were pruned to the point of oblivion. Oddly, no other trees around the lot were trimmed. And as many tree experts pointed out, given the risk of permanent damage, only an idiot or villain prunes trees at the height of summer. Noted one tree lover, “they might as well have pulled them from the ground and burned them in forges beneath Isengard.”
In response to Tree-gate, NBCUniversal issued a statement saying that although they “support the WGA and SAG’s right to demonstrate,” they had always cut back the trees at this time of year – a contention easily refuted by Google GOOG -Earth-facile WGA members. Moreover, per NBCUniversal, the tree trimming was for “safety” reasons and conducted “in partnership with licensed arborists.”
Professional licensure is supposed to be an argument-ender. The tree killers were licensed? Okey dokey, no more questions! Licensed professionals mean highly skilled and putting consumer protection and safety first. For most of us, licensure is ironclad, bulletproof, unmitigated good. It’s your birthday, Christmas, and every holiday all rolled up into one (although in this case, probably not Arbor Day). One striking scribe mocked NBCUniversal’s attempt at playing the licensure card by predicting the studio’s next announcement: “in partnership with licensed alligator breeders, we let loose 400 gators along Lankershim (as we do every year!) and apologize for the unintended challenges this caused.”
But defer to licensure at your peril; it’s far from infallible. Because while licensure can end arguments, it may be doing the same for skill development.
For many professional associations that set licensing requirements, it’s one-and-done: no continuing education required. Once you’re licensed, you know everything you’ll ever need to know to do your job. Although the professions where this doesn’t raise eyebrows are those where the purpose of licensure is questionable in the first place e.g., notaries, hairstylists, and – of course – eyebrow technicians. In contrast, white-collar professions like medicine, psychology, accounting, teaching, and engineering have continuing education requirements. At a time when losing one’s license is nearly synonymous with lawyers who once worked for former President Trump, let’s take a look at skill development in the legal profession.
The last time so many lawyers surrounding a president got in hot water was the original Tree-gate: Watergate. How did the profession respond? With a little number called continuing legal education (CLE). Today, 46 states mandate CLE so that lawyers can be “competent regarding the law, legal and practice-oriented skills” and hopefully avoid destroying public confidence in the profession by breaking into the offices of political opponents or conspiring to defraud the United States. Most states require 12-15 hours per year. One researcher estimated that in 2017, nearly 1M lawyers dropped $345M on 11.5M hours of CLE.
How are lawyers continuing to educate themselves? As you’d expect, there’s lots of ethics on offer. But also a flotsam and jetsam of courses on adult entertainment, yoga, drinking, and how to leave a bequest for your pet demonstrating little connection between CLE and practical skills. With a handful of exceptions – trial lawyers in Georgia, lawyers who are also notaries in Puerto Rico – lawyers can take twelve hours of whatever strikes their fancy, prompting critics to deride CLE as THOA: Twelve Hours of Anything.
Equally troubling, no state – or legal employer that I’m aware of – has any system or process for verifying whether CLE leads to any learning or skill development. Georgetown Law’s Rima Sirota points out that none of the studies on CLE “provide any reason to believe that the current mandatory CLE system results in better lawyering than would be the case without CLE requirements.” Furthermore, there’s no evidence that CLE requirements reduce complaints against lawyers. Willamette University College of Law professor David Friedman is more succinct in his view of CLE: “It started off as a cause. Then it became a business. Then it became a scam.”
Why has CLE become a joke? One reason is that it’s mandatory. So lawyers view it as a box to be checked rather than valuable skill and professional development. Second, the moat created by licensure – the legal profession has a wide moat: a bar exam that spans 12 hours over 2 days – provides an excuse for not taking skill development seriously i.e., we passed the difficult exam, so we must know everything we need to practice. Sirota cites one study that found a curious correlation: states with no CLE requirements had lower rates of complaints against lawyers.
While continuing education in other professions may not be as silly or scandalous as law, most are similar: mandatory hours, unlimited choice, no connection to practice or validation of professional development. But if licensure and its kissing cousin, mandatory continuing education, have little, no, or a negative connection to skills – if licensure is where skill development goes to die – it raises a bunch of questions. First, if licensing exams are supposed to test whether professionals are fit for practice, why are they only administered once rather than repeatedly? Willamette’s Friedman made this point last year in a UC Irvine Law Review article titled Do We Need a Bar Exam… For Experienced Lawyers, highlighting data showing that lawyers are more likely to face disciplinary problems later in their career. Per Friedman: “lawyers can practice indefinitely without any independent entity overseeing their competence.” Friedman cites the example of Dennis Hawver, a Kansas defense attorney who told a jury that his client was “a professional drug dealer” and a “shooter of people” and, after his client had been found guilty, that “the killer should be executed.” (Hawver continued to practice for another nine years until his disbarment hearing at which he dressed up as Thomas Jefferson, wig and all, shouting “I am incompetent!”) Why does the licensing-industrial complex only focus on quality assurance at the entry level? As Friedman notes, “the screening function of a standardized test may Strengthen over time, as lawyers confront more problems in the operation of their businesses, their lives, and their well-being.” A big reason: the comforting fiction that mandatory continuing education leads to skill development or maintenance.
Not surprisingly, lawyers don’t thrill to the idea of continually retaking the bar exam. Friedman postulates this indicates not merely lassitude, but a fundamental lack of confidence in the connection between the licensing exam and readiness to practice. If so, are we going about professional licensure all wrong?
In most developed countries, governments retain control of licensing standards. As a result, fewer professions are deemed to require licensure. In Europe most entry-level healthcare positions aren’t licensed and therefore provide an accessible point of entry to health professions. Meanwhile, in the U.S., lazy states delegate the gatekeeper role to professional associations or guilds. Associations are more than glad to do it because digging a moat around a profession invariably results in double-digit percentage increases in practitioner income. As one commentator recognized, the way states run occupational licensure is “roughly akin to requiring the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to be run by active options traders.” This is the primary reason 21 states require a license to work as a travel guide and you need a license to be an interior designer in Florida. Today, nearly 30% of U.S. jobs now require licensure compared to 10-20% in most European countries.
Meanwhile, licensure has been making a hash of America’s workforce. Professional associations typically require career launchers to not only complete a licensing exam, but also a degree. Florida interior decorators must pass the National Council of Interior Designer Qualifications (NCIDQ) exam, but not before they earn an interior design degree approved by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Physical therapy assistants must pass the National Physical Therapy (NPTE) exam, but not before earning a degree approved by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, including coursework not dissimilar to the first year of medical school (despite the fact that physical therapy assistants aren’t permitted to help patients do much more than stretch). The time, tuition, and foregone income required to take (and re-take) licensing exams and attempt (and hopefully complete) multi-year degree programs have resulted in talent gaps and barriers to career launch for diverse populations. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, 75% of white candidates eventually pass the Praxis exam to become a K-12 teacher while success rates for Black and Hispanic candidates are only 38% and 57% respectively. Licensure also keeps the formerly incarcerated out of good jobs that could help them get their lives back on track. Finally, licensing degree requirements form an insurmountable barrier to building apprenticeship programs in these professions as employers aren’t willing to hire and pay apprentices for the duration of a multi-year degree program i.e., until apprentices are licensed and able to contribute in full.
If the combination of entry-level exams that are usually “far too distant to serve the function of protecting… client[s]” plus Twelve Hours of Anything fails to certain that professionals are highly skilled, is licensure worth the penny? For a shocking number of professions, the answer is no. States would be doing their populations a service by ceasing to delegate licensing authority to greedy professional associations and, instead, starting to govern in the best interests of their workforces and the people those workforces serve.
If associations and guilds want to short-circuit the burgeoning de-licensure movement, they’d be well advised to get serious about skills. While mandatory continuing education in most licensed professions is skills theater, it doesn’t have to be that way. Every six months, airline pilots must complete 3-hour proficiency checks in aircraft or simulators. And the associated continuing education – coursework and simulator time – is directly related to the skills required to safely operate commercial aircraft. (Pilots are also required to pass medical exams to ensure they’re physically fit to fly.) Continuing medical education shares some similarities with CLE: doctors are required to take a certain number of hours each year and many select barely-relevant amenities-rich courses paid for by pharma companies. But 82% of doctors are board certified in a specialty area. And with this status (linked to hospital staff privileges and insurance reimbursement) comes the responsibility of practice-specific continuing medical education. Practice-specific CME involves individualized learning plans, simulations, and assessments, not just online courses. Sirota believes practice-specific CME charts a path for other professions. Friedman suggests “mandatory specialty testing… would serve notice to clients that a lawyer is strongly qualified to practice in a certain area.”
Between keeping planes in the air and patients healthy, we seem to be doing better with licensure when lives are on the line (although apparently not – as the example of Dennis Hawver shows – criminal defendants facing the death penalty). Other licensed professions should take note because skills-based learning and skills-based hiring are likely to be followed hard upon by skills-based licensing.
Far too often, licensure results in a one-night stand when what’s warranted is a lifelong relationship. Professions that wish to maintain the privilege and benefits of licensure should be required to assume responsibility for skills over the entire career trajectory – not just at entry. This means a fundamental transformation of continuing education. Although, at least for the legal profession, it’s possible that any time spent on CLE is positive from an ethical standpoint i.e., time not spent lying and cheating clients, let alone advising studios that it’s OK to cut down leafy, shade-giving trees during a strike as long as they employ licensed arborists.
Colleagues from Laranjal do Jari, a municipality on the Jari River, which is a tributary of the Amazon.
Extreme floods and severe droughts on the Amazon River have occurred more frequently in the last 40 years. Eight of the 12 most extreme floods in the 121-year streamflow record at Manaus, located on the Negro River, a tributary of the Amazon River, have occurred in just the last 14 years.
Natural climate variations, deforestation and anthropogenic climate change are all likely contributors to the latest Amazon River level extremes. Despite the rapid increase in severe flooding, a new paper by researchers from the U of A indicates latest floods and droughts in the Amazon River Basin may have not yet exceeded the range of natural hydroclimatic variability.
The American Meteorological Society published these latest findings by Daniela Granato-Souza, a post-doctoral student in geosciences, and David Stahle, a Distinguished Professor of geosciences, in a new paper titled, “Drought and flood extremes on the Amazon River and in northeast Brazil, 1790-1900.”
Using tree-ring analysis to reconstruct rainfall totals in the eastern Amazon, along with historical documentary accounts of extreme flooding in Manaus and Santarem, Granato-Souza and Stahle found evidence indicating that Amazon River floods in 1859 and 1892 may have equaled or exceeded latest flooding.
The biggest difference between then and now, though, is the size of the population now living in the flood plain.
“There are millions of people residing in Manaus, the most populous city in northern Brazil, so there is a socioeconomic concern in these regions,” noted Granato-Souza. “Usually, poorer people are seen living in risk areas, and with each flood they suffer the consequences of loss and illness. There is a ‘normal’ for the maximum level that the river reaches, but the most extreme floods exceed this threshold, and studies have shown that this is intensifying.”
Granato-Souza added that while they found the latest extreme floods weren’t unprecedented, examining the scale of past flooding provides a framework for imagining and anticipating the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of future floods.
And they would likely be devastating for a population living in high-risk areas.
The tree-ring collections used in this research came from the Rio Paru, a tributary of the Amazon near the latest discovery site of the tallest trees in the Brazilian Amazon. Descriptions of the giant trees in the remote and unspoiled Rio Paru drainage has captivated public interest in Brazil and abroad. Stahle and Granato-Souza are working with environmental scientists in Brazil, including Diego da Silva with the Federal Institute of Amapa, Robson Borges with Amapa State University and Eric Gorgens with the Federal University of the Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys, to help answer often-asked questions concerning the age, growth rate, disturbance history and the climate sensitivity of these tropical hardwoods.
About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research and Economic Development News.
School districts around the country have struggled to keep the wheels on their buses going round and round as potential drivers take jobs delivering packages instead.
“The ‘Amazon Effect’ really grew during the pandemic,” said Molly McGee-Hewitt, executive director of the National Association for Pupil Transportation. “Amazon pays more than most school districts do. If a driver can get more hours and better benefits, that is appealing to them.”
Increasing competition in the labor market—from delivery and rideshare jobs—is just one factor fueling a problem that has challenged districts for years: a struggle to hire enough bus drivers to handle complicated student transportation plans.
That problem led to national headlines over the last week when Jefferson County schools, Kentucky’s largest district, shut down for six days after a transportation meltdown resulted in some students arriving home as late as 10 p.m. on the first day of school Aug. 9. Short on drivers, the district had used a software platform to reduce and reconfigure its routes, leading to confusion and inefficiencies when they put the new plan into practice.
But most districts have managed to keep buses running, even as they struggle to recruit drivers, McGee-Hewitt said. Here’s how they’ve handled the shortage.
Bus drivers typically work split shifts, taking a route in the morning and another in the afternoon with a lengthy, unpaid break in between. In the past, such a schedule appealed to farmers in rural areas, semi-retired people, and even parents seeking to bring in extra income.
But that split in the work day seems to be less appealing to new recruits, said McGee-Hewitt. So some districts have given drivers additional duties between their route shifts, employing them as paraprofessionals during the school day to round out their schedule, she said.
During COVID-related school closures, districts also kept bus drivers on the payroll by putting them to work delivering meals or driving buses that served as mobile hotspots to help students connect to the internet for remote school work.
Some school transportation directors have adopted “stay interviews” as a strategy to retain current drivers and to inform their efforts to recruit new ones.
Human resources experts have more commonly lauded stay interviews—in which supervisors talk to employees about what motivates them and keeps them on the job— as a way to retain teachers and boost morale.
Similarly, Shaker Heights, Ohio, administrators have surveyed bus drivers about why they like the job, their scheduling preferences, and why they’ve returned for another year of work, Superintendent David Glasner told Education Week last year.
Want to try stay interviews in your district? Take a look at this toolkitdeveloped by the Maricopa County, Ariz., superintendent’s office as part of a pilot project.
One appeal of driving those Amazon trucks: The driver is typically the only person on board. That’s not the case for school buses, where the person behind the wheel—typically the only adult present—is responsible for monitoring both the safety and behavior of dozens of students.
“You’re trying to keep everybody safe and you’re watching the road, but also to have 30 to 60 kids on your bus that you are watching to try to take care of,” McGee-Hewitt said. “That is a huge assignment.”
That’s why some districts have provided additional training for drivers in addressing students’ misbehavior, she said. Some have also invited drivers to more general staff professional development on the issue, and some have incorporated bus drivers and other non-instructional staff into their social-emotional learning plans.
Sometimes potential drivers have to see the experience for themselves. That’s why some districts have invited applicants to ride beside drivers to demystify things like how to navigate a route and how to respond to student misbehavior, McGee-Hewitt said.
Some driver candidates may be intimidated by the size of a yellow bus, district transportation directors said.
That’s why some districts set up driver recruitment events in large parking lots, giving candidates a chance to drive an empty school bus around cones and obstacles to see how it handles.
Districts have raised bus driver salaries to try to be more competitive in a tight labor market.
Others have offered bonuses in an effort to retain drivers or to limit absences. The Moore County, N.C., district, for example, voted in February to offer its drivers $50 monthly bonuses for not missing a shift, the Sand Hills Sentinel reported.
Running out of ways to do more with less, some school boards have opted to reduce the number of students who ride the bus by changing their transportation policies.
Often, that means increasing the minimum distance a student must live from school to qualify for bus rides.
It’s not uncommon for transportation directors to redraw transportation plans to make them more efficient, McGee-Hewitt said. For example, some districts have ended door-to-door service in favor of community bus stops, some have reduced the number of community stops by moving them farther away from students’ homes, and some have used software to redesign routes around changing enrollment patterns and neighborhood densities.
That was the case in Jefferson County, Ky., where new transportation plans caused frustration last week. Superintendent Marty Pollio told reporters Monday that the new plans failed in part because employees added extra stops without accounting for the time they would add to each route.
Some districts have encouraged parents to find alternatives to voluntarily reduce the number of riders.
“While we are doing everything we can to make routes as efficient as possible to serve the maximum number of students, the driver shortage will cause delays in service during the upcoming school year,” the Wake County, N.C., district wrote in a letter to parents in July. “Sometimes, no bus will be available and students will have to find alternative transportation to and from school.”
The school system’s 560 bus drivers can’t cover its 577 routes without making some adjustments, including doubling up routes for some drivers and running some buses late, the district said this week.
Some have also sought to make bus alternatives fun, calling on parent groups to organize efforts like walking school buses, in which groups of children walk to school together with adult volunteers, picking up classmates at “stops” along the way. Learn more in this resource from the national Safe Routes to School program.
“A League of Their Own” will not be getting a second and final season at Amazon’s Prime Video after all, Variety has learned from sources.
The show was renewed for what was meant to be a shortened final season back in April. The first season consisted of eight episodes, while the second season was meant to consist of just four.
More from Variety
Variety has reached out to Amazon for comment and will update should they respond.
According to sources, the show was another casualty of Hollywood’s ongoing strikes. With Hollywood’s writers and actors still on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), there was no hope of production beginning on Season 2 any time soon. That would likely mean the second season would not debut before 2025, while Season 1 aired in August 2022.
This is the second Prime Video series to be scrapped today. It was previously reported that “The Peripheral” would also not be moving forward with its second season due to the strikes.
“A League of Their Own” was based on the classic film of the same name directed by Penny Marshall and starred Abbi Jacobson, D’Arcy Carden, Chante Adams, Melanie Field and Kate Berlant. The official description of the show says that it told “the story of an entire generation of women who dreamed of playing professional baseball. The show takes a deeper look at race and sexuality, following the journey of a whole new ensemble of characters as they carve their own paths towards the field, both in the league and outside of it.”
Will Graham and Jacobson served as executive producers on the series in addition to co-creating it. Field Trip’s Hailey Wierengo and Desta Tedros Reff also served as executive producers. Jamie Babbit also served as executive producer. All-American Girls Baseball player (AAGBPL) consultant, Maybelle Blair, served as a consultant.
Best of Variety
Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Click here to read the full article.