Amazon.com Reviews

Updated July 30, 2015
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Amazon.com Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
685 Ratings

Pros
  • You will learn a lot that will help with the rest of your career (in 118 reviews)

  • The company is full of very smart people (in 352 reviews)

Cons
  • Not the best at work-life balance (in 636 reviews)

  • Absolutely no work life balance (in 145 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

957 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (190)

    A huge diverse high tech company with all sorts of stuff

    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time

    Pros

    Disclaimer: My opinions reflect that of an SDE in Amazon. Seems like some operational job functions are very tough. I have read through some of the other Amazon reviews and it seems to me that everyone has a very different experience! This is so true. Within the same team, you can have both workaholics and slackers coexisting and coworking together. I think I am more of the balanced type as I try to stay sane. The Amazon experience is basically the entire spectrum and it is what you make it out to be. Pros in Amazon certainly excludes great benefits, but compensation is competitive. Free food means average quality free coffee, once in a while free pizza for lunch where it is a working lunch, and free beer and finger food in special events. We get a free Orca card to take any bus in the Seattle area for free. $160 per month subsidy for office parking, which is better than nothing. Downtown monthly parking goes for about $200 per month. 401K contribution is 50% of what you put in, where you can put in max 4% of your salary. Not so great. Staff cafeteria food is average and not at all cheaper than outside food, or could be even more expensive. It is hard not to complain about the cafeteria. Vacation days are ok but note that there are no sick leaves. They count as part of your 5 personal days per year. Listing the benefits of Amazon is like listing the cons and not the pros. Work life balance seems to be ok for the most part, and seems to be individually-driven. No one will tell you that you have to come in at what time and stay till what time. I have team mates working every night and weekend, and others getting in at 10am and leaving at 5pm, all in the same team. Managers will focus on your project deliveries instead of how much time you spend working. If you work 40-hour weeks productively, you can definitely outperform someone who works 60-hour weeks but don't deliver stuff. Working less than 40 hours per week is somewhat common, but I can't say how many people are working how long. The view on work life balance is a bit skewed. All it comes down to are the managers and what they think. Projects are always never-ending but I have found that deadlines are very realistic and reasonable, without counting your nights and weekends. Getting some slack time once in a while is probably a sign of a healthy work environment. Everyone needs a break. On-call really really sucks. Basically all it comes down to is having SDEs double-duty as support operations engineers. Note that on-call does not improve the code quality of any team in any way. The on-call experience is particularly bad because you are using services from some other team, and their code is of low quality and fails for the wrong reasons. If the managers had given more time to up the quality, there would not be so many problems. Software is usually delivered with a tough deadline with code that meets the minimum quality bar and never gets improved for the next few years. The code review process does not seem to help improve the code but it really obstructs developers from making great changes as unconventional things will not pass code review in clumsy minds. Innovation and excellence are not the name of the game in Amazon. Searching through the Amazon code base is usually not going to turn up quality code that you can actually reuse. Integration is the name of the game in Amazon. You will need to spend a lot of time to figure out how to integrate your code with another team's services. Whether these other people are cooperative is a hit-or-miss. I have found that most people are responsive and helpful, but there are also quite a number of jerks who are out to make trouble for everybody. It is not easy to work across teams but the experience is mostly positive. Amazon is a huge behemoth and is hiring people like there is no tomorrow. This reflects well on a good growth momentum but also is worrying that the company is not turning much profit. If the company does not make money, where is our bonus going to come from? You can see new faces around the Amazon building almost everyday! Downside is that we are taking in a lot of average to above-average engineers and being an Amazonian SDE certainly does not share the same reputation as the top names. Amazon is a huge mixed bag of some very talented people and some very dumb people. I think the world is not turning up enough SDEs and the only way is for quality to go downhill. As an SDE, expect to spend most of your time talking, writing emails and documents, and maybe around 20-30% of your time coding. In most of the teams, you can work on interesting projects, but probably not revolutionary ones. Note that Amazon is a very down-to-earth company and the work is very down-to-earth as well. You will work on real things that people have actually requested for, and that people will start using as soon as you are done. Work is challenging but not to expect highly technically complex stuff. Most of the work has to do with solving everyday problems. To me, this seems to make sense because I have ever tried working on experimental projects before elsewhere and I did not feel it was a good use of my time. Internal mobility is a key strength of Amazon, and I am not sure which company has done better than Amazon in this aspect. Internal moves are easy. You only need to stay in your team for a year before moving to a different team. There is no easy way to tell which team is a good team to move to because they all have their different pros and cons and people and coming and leaving all the time! Seattle is by much rumour an easier place to live than the Bay area. Overall Amazon is a tough but yet sane place to work. The flexibility of this company is really its core strength. You have the freedom to excel as much as you want and also to slack as much as you want. Bummer. You shouldn't be slacking!

    Cons

    Beware of bad managers and horrible team mates. They are not specific to Amazon but they do exist in Amazon. I have to admit that Monday is usually a blue day at Amazon and it is very tough to look forward to getting into office. I don't know anyone in Amazon who looks forward to getting in on Mondays. Be realistic about SDE requirements. Coding skills are good to have but they are not the most important part of your job. I think we are hearing the same thing from every company. Medical coverage is average or below average. Expect to pay about $60 per month for singles and about $240 per month for families. $240 per month for families gives you $3000 in medical fees before you have to pay (more) anything out-of-pocket. SDE advancement is unreal difficult. They have about 6 levels total, SDE 1-4, then Senior Principal Engineer, and finally Distinguished Engineer. The number of SDE 1s and 2s are huge. Trying to get to SDE 3 seems to be all-of-a-sudden extremely difficult, but not impossible. So this essentially means that if you come to Amazon as a fresh grad SDE, expect to get about only one or two promotions in your entire career, which obviously is quite a lame expectation and reality. You will probably do much better in your career advancement anywhere else. Employee retention is horrible. I am not sure why the philosophy seems to be trying to undercut existing employees and then hire from external sources. Management all say that they are trying to retain people, but actions don't seem to suggest anything better. Rumour has it that annual pay raises are horrible. This basically mean that either you are a superstar in the company before they will try to retain you, or if you are smart you should not stay in Amazon for too long.

    Advice to Management

    The thing about thinking long-term is getting more and more worrying as the company has not turned a tidy profit and is trying to conquer the world with its lofty expansion strategies. I don't know what kind of secret recipe management is cooking but seeing the company not making much money never feels comfortable.


  2. Helpful (2)

    Hard place to start, but really rewarding

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Developing Engineer I in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Developing Engineer I in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    * Given big responsibility from the start, which is great. There is a lot of trust towards developers. * You won't be given useless projects. Everything is used. * A lot of communication between the business side of a project and the tech side. * Unique, challenging, and interesting problems to solve (although this could vary depending on which part of Amazon) * Values aren't just posted on the walls, they're drilled into everything you do * Easy to transfer internally to a new job (requires at least a year between teams and a good performance review) * Relative transparency between manager and employees. Although it's only with your direct superior. There isn't much interaction with anyone higher than that. * Use of new and relevant technologies (i.e. they're not stuck using outdated languages/stacks). I'm sure this varies from team to team though * This sounds trivial, but the office chairs are amazing. They did not skimp on those. * It's generally easy to work remotely. Although it's not really encouraged, it is doable. * Being able to bring a dog is AWESOME. Seriously huge benefit.

    Cons

    * Frugality is the one value that you will end up hating. They abuse to the point of being cheap. Pretty much all the negatives about the company stem from this single value. * The development environment you get isn't that great (although they're *slowly* getting better). Laptops and desktops just don't have enough processing power to do what they need to do, and they JUST started issuing dual-monitors as standard. * Growing too fast. Some buildings are filled to the brim. They had to take down the interior walls in some buildings to make room for more people to fit. It literally can feel like a factory sometimes. * No parking on campus * The campus itself is honestly really boring. It's boring to look at, and it doesn't have anything to make it stand out. * Managers are hit and miss. They seem to only care about how they look and not how their employees are doing. * Really tough for those coming right out of college. No one is going to tell you to stop working, so it's incredibly easy to get burned out. The amount of pressure you can receive from your manager is scary. * Way too much bureaucracy (aka too many meetings). * Internal tools have a really high learning curve.

    Advice to Management

    Instead of being just a mouth-piece for the higher-ups, try learning more about the people who answer to you. Relationships build trust. Repeating Amazon's values at me isn't going to make me better at my job.


  3. Depends on the team

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    First if all, as with most big companies, your experience at Amazon will vary greatly with your business unit, and your team. Mine are great. I work in the Kindle org, and overall it's a great place to work. The work is definitely interesting, I've worked in backend systems where the challenge is reliability and dealing with big data. The work-life balance is great, and I almost never spend more than 9 hours at work. When I do it's almost always because I'm working on something that's really interesting to me and I just want to get more done that day. I really buy in to the whole customer centric thing. We really do make choices that we thing would be better for the user (than the alternatives) even though it may be more painful for us in the short run.

    Cons

    The requirements still change very often and you'll find your sprints often interrupted with something that just HAS to happen. The company of so huge that there is often overlap between what different teams are doing. It can help to just get things done quickly, but often it seems like a waste when one of the solutions is eventually discarded.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the company culture alive. Recently I've been noticing more politicking going on - don't let yourselves turn into a bureaucracy.


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  5. Helpful (4)

    lots of experience but very competitive

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Developer Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Developer Engineer in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    you will get lots of experience working with technology built with scalability in mind. In stills good working values like Customer Obsession.

    Cons

    Even after you get hired your are always evaluated ageist the ever rising 'bar'. 'The bar' is the aver technical and leadership of your peers in the company. Basically if you are deemed to be worse off then 50% of your peers across the company you are in danger.

    Advice to Management

    its hard to give general advice here because every group is managed mostly independently but I would said that focusing on the development of your engineers is important even if they are not sure of what direction they want to go. You lose a lot of good people simply because they are lost is the sea without the tools to navigate.


  6. Mixed, but positive

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - very smart people - doing interesting work

    Cons

    - some crappy internal tools - still a tech company; women and PoC have to work harder, promotion-wise

    Advice to Management

    Seattle's job market is heating up, and Amazon's reputation and low-middle pay grade will bite you.


  7. Helpful (6)

    The fun is gone and the operation burden keeps coming.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer II in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer II in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    - If you are a college hire, you will learn a lot, from discussing business requirements, writing tech specs, coding and testing, to deploying features to productions. You will learn them all. - Project is very cool sometimes, but get buried so much under processes and guidelines. Just let me build the thing already. - What else? What else is there? I don't know. Probably nothing else.

    Cons

    - Healthcare and Benefits: from what I hear from my friends working at other tech companies, Amazon pretty much has nothing. Just nothing. - Work Equipment: horrible. I am still using the Macbook from 2011 and not allowed to upgrade to newer machine until 2017. I would have to pay out of my pocket for memory upgrade and switch from normal hard drive to ssd. Of course, all in the name of "Frugality". I am just not sure how it can be frugal where I have to spend a lot of time waiting for things to run and process while on the clock. And once upon a time, we were so looking forward to acquire monitor from interns who are about to leave, because Amazon would refuse to give us two monitors of 22". Luckily, at least that's over. - Performance Review and Salary: I have had many reviews so far and it always seems subjective. Like April this year, I got exceed for engineer rating and solid for leader principle, and I got <2% pay raise. Total compensation, stock included, goes down from last year. In another word, I get a pay cut for a good performance review. Who does that? Talked to manager and HR, nothing they can do about it. And thanks to Glassdoor, I know that I am underpaid even comparing to other engineers at the same level at the SAME company. - Retention rate is very low. My department is considered one of the good one in term of work life balance and everybody is nice and such, But people keep leaving. Business keeps asking for projects to be built while we don't have enough resources and don't even care about operational support. They just want things to be done for their own promotion, then get promoted, and leave the burden behind. Engineers are quoted on their words about "rough/initial" estimation and got pressured onto that "promises" to get things done. Inexperienced engineers make that amateur mistakes all the times and burn themselves out. Engineers like me stay in the department because of promises about promotion, different and interesting project, but of course pay raise is kinda out of question but only for a very few people. (Perhaps I am not that good of an engineer. If so, why even bother rating me exceed in engineer performance many years in a row?) - Technical challenge: not much. Once you passed the first 1 or 2 years of learning as new hires, it pretty much dies down from there. - Pager (it especially sucks if your team has less than 5 people. That means you would be oncall once a month or more) - Mentor: hit and miss. I am fortunate to have some very great mentors. But my friends seem to have a complete opposite of spectrum. He has to learn everything, plays nice with his mentor although that mentor is not even helpful. - Managers and some engineers tend to present the Amazon's problem in a very engineer way: it is not perfect and very challenging but there will always be room for improvement and you can contribute to that. Sure, it's possible, if only you work their days and nights, weekend included to get your work done and achieve those goals. You probably ask why I am still working there after so many complaints I made above. Well, I love my teammates. They are some of the best engineers I have had a chance to work with. They are all moving on now. I am the last man standing. Prepping for the interviews now. If you are working for Amazon, move on, NOW. If you plan to work for Amazon, at least ask for the ton of money or a very special project. Last word, just get out.

    Advice to Management

    - Having so many diverse projects without any focus is not a GOOD thing. - Postponing tech mandates to deliver some milestones will bite everyone eventually. - Dealing with your teammates to make sure that everyone is happy is your JOB. That's what you get paid for. Not making everyone fight each other and gets paid. - Lack of communications and give out empty promises to keep engineers around might work in the short term but words will go around. Good luck moving to a new team or new company where your old engineers share their experiences with others. Tech community is pretty small. It will come back and be friend with you very soon.


  8. Helpful (2)

    Work hard. Learn lots. Make history.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Irvine, CA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Irvine, CA

    I worked at Amazon.com full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    There are a lot of smart, hard working people at Amazon. Connect with the right team and you can learn a lot.

    Cons

    The goal is delivering results, not work-life balance. You have to have the right attitude: focus on the customer and get stuff done.


  9. Helpful (1)

    Really depends on the team. Also really annoying corporate culture at times

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer Intern
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer Intern

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    1. You will learn a lot. You will both know good software development and operation skills (on call). Some people here are really smart and driven. 2. Depends on your team and your manager. Some team can be really fun to work with and social. Others, definitely not (I am currently in one of those teams) 3. Amazon is customer driven. So everything here is about customer experience than engineering feat.

    Cons

    1. Politics. Politics. Politics. Although Amazon advertise it as flat hierarchy, it's not uncommon to see in some teams that manager is the king. If you want to get promoted, you need to have a good relationship with the manager, who expects you to listen to him and work hard for him so that he can also get that additional bonus or even promoted. This is not to say that every manager is like this. But be prepared. 2. Work Life Balance. People here especially at AWS has no life (expect 60 hrs per week or 70~80 in Q4). Literally, few of them are happy (if they have a lucky and great manager). Others looks really boring and are workaholic. Basically my typical day is to go to office, have standup, work, lunch, work, go home, sleep. If you want to find a fun place to work, Amazon is not the place in general. Go to Facebook/Google or any other hot startups instead. 3. Finally, the most off-putting is the Amazon's internal culture. Basically in Amazon, everything is customer centric. You will hear people talk about customer all day. But as a result of this customer driven culture is that engineers are less valued (actually the least in the company). As an Engineer, it's really hard to get promoted. In addition, the entire company's attitude for new engineer is that you are expendable so don't expect the company to do anything good to you. As a result, you have to say something nice to seniority and make them like you in order to get promoted. Most people here are unhappy. Finally, if you are a person who enjoys startup, don't come to Amazon. It will literally kill your innovation and passion because as a new comer, you are expected to listen and succumb to whatever the seniority person's says. That means every argument you make if you don't agree with people in the company for a while, you will be seen as 'defiant'. People who stay here for a long time has no passion whatsoever for changing the world but securing his/her own place in the company while superficially saying that they care for the customer (but in fact it is the money)

    Advice to Management

    Innovation is not created by rejecting new ideas. Please listen to employees's new ideas that might sounds ridiculous. Also, if you want employee to stay, treat them better and be less selfish.


  10. Okay

    Former Employee - Software Engineer - Internship in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer - Internship in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Amazon.com (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Has a very nice facilities. Team members are really responsive.

    Cons

    A lot of work and fast pace.


  11. Helpful (1)

    Interesting problems, poor treatment of employees

    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    You'll get to work on a lot of cool and interesting problems

    Cons

    Work / life balance is usually crappy, particularly on the really interesting projects. Also stack ranking can be quite hindering to collaboration.



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