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Amazon’s ‘career day’ expected to draw thousands to Crystal City

A residential housing complex under construction near Crystal City in Arlington. Housing prices in the area have surged since the announcement in November of Amazon’s arrival. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Thousands of job-seekers are expected to swarm the site of Amazon’s future headquarters at a “career day” in Crystal City on Tuesday, as the online retail giant begins to accelerate its hiring and presence in Northern Virginia.

The company, which chose the site in Arlington County from among 238 contenders across the country, will not hire anyone on the spot, an Amazon spokesman said, but with the intention of filling 400 jobs by year’s end, the event is an opportunity for candidates to learn about which departments will be hiring and the company’s culture, from its internal “university” to its many employee groups.

More than 60 new and transferred Amazon employees are already working in the company’s temporary headquarters at 2345 Crystal City Dr., filling jobs such as recruiting manager, project manager, software developer, account representative and technical business developer.

About 170 new jobs are open, and more openings are being added every day to reach Amazon’s goal of hiring 400 people in Arlington by the end of the year. The fastest-hiring divisions are Amazon Web Services, those that handle its devices such as Alexa, consumer retail sales and its human resources team.

(Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

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New hires will be working at a retrofitted 88,000-square-foot building at 241 18th St. South at the end of September, with room for more than 450 people. A building at 1800 Bell St. is expected to be ready for occupancy by the end of this year.

The company’s main headquarters buildings, in nearby Pentagon City, are undergoing the county’s site review process, and Amazon hopes to begin construction in the first quarter of 2020, barring delays. Renderings of those structures will be on display at Tuesday’s event.

The career day, under a tent at the Grounds in Crystal City, is the first of its kind for the company, Amazon said. Similar events are being held in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Nashville and Seattle.

The company has some 30,000 open positions across the United States, from warehouse jobs to top positions in software development. The Arlington event will be capped by “fireside chats” with several company vice presidents, who will discuss their internal businesses within Amazon.

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Amazon’s arrival in Arlington excited many economic analysts, government officials and business owners, as well as real estate agents and homeowners who expect higher property values thanks to their proximity to the new development. Amazon plans to hire 25,000 workers with annual salaries of $150,000 over the next decade, according to its deal with the state of Virginia. In exchange, Amazon will receive incentives worth $750 million.

Skeptics, however, worry that the arrival of so many highly paid workers will cause housing prices to skyrocket, pushing out low-income and working-class families. Housing prices have spiked since November’s announcement of Amazon’s plan to build its second headquarters, or HQ2, in the Washington region, although subsequent studies indicate that so far, speculators and existing residents are fueling the real estate frenzy.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is urging local governments to commit to increase the amount of low- and medium-cost housing in the region by 320,000 housing units between 2020 and 2030. Amazon has donated $3 million for affordable housing projects and has said it is not finished with its local philanthropic efforts.

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Amazon already has about 10,000 employees in Virginia, working in its fulfillment centers, Prime Now hubs, pop-up stores, solar farms and Whole Foods grocery stores.

The Amazon job fair runs 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Grounds in Crystal City, 1102 S. Eads St.

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