Amazon.com Reviews

Updated March 26, 2015
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3.6
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Amazon.com Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
2,952 Ratings

890 Employee Reviews

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  1. 134 people found this helpful

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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. 1 person found this helpful

    Great place to work -- tons of responsibility on the shoulders of SDEs

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    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)

    Pros

    Amazon.com is a challenging, fun, and ultimately rewarding experience. You have a lot of potential for career growth, with SDEs able to get promoted to the VP level while remaining an individual contributor. If you can find a good team, with a supportive manager, you can definitely excel.

    You are given a lot of responsibility -- even SDE-1s own a part of the software stack and are responsible for delivering on it.

    With ownership comes responsibility. You are expected to be oncall and maintain your software end to end. Most teams have an oncall rotation, no dedicated QA staff, and full autonomous ownership of a subset of Amazon.com. I consider this a pro -- I love working in a place that trusts its engineers to make decisions, and gives us full responsibility from end-to-end. As a senior engineer at Amazon, you will come up with the business idea for what to do, help management prioritize it appropriately, design the architecture end-to-end, implement the code, test the code, deploy the code, and finally maintain the code if anything goes wrong. It's exhilarating, challenging, and a lot of fun. But it's not for everyone.

    Amazon.com's service oriented architecture ensures that most teams at Amazon own a subset of Amazon services, which means that they are responsible for defining the roadmaps for their service. As a senior engineer, you often spend part of your time as a product manager, helping define the roadmap for your services. It's a great opportunity to grow.

    Finally, the promotion process is fair and puts the power in the hands of the engineer up for promotion. You are given a clear document on what it takes to get to the next level (SDE1->SDE2, SDE2->SDE3, SDE3->Principal being the main ones.) Then you are given full power to seek out projects that get you to the next level. Amazon won't care about your years of experience -- it will promote you solely based on your merit, which is great if you can prove yourself.

    Cons

    As a large organization, Amazon is not without its politics. If you get a bad manager, this can be bad for your career; if this turns out to be the case, make sure to switch teams as soon as possible after joining (you're supposed to wait a year, but it can be done sooner if things are bad enough.) Luckily, this didn't happen to me, but I have seen it happen on occasion.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make the promotion process more transparent. Make stack racking more transparent. Own it. I think the process is great, but there is a lot of misinformation and mystique out there about how it works.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. Was harder initially but slowly it became easier.

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

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Pros

    Smart people , lot to learn

    Cons

    No work life balance, always competitive

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Care for employees

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. Technical

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

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Pros

    Good programming knowledge builds in Amazon

    Cons

    I dont know the cons.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    nothing

  6. Software Development Engineer Intern

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

    I worked at Amazon.com

    Pros

    Having three phone interviews and went to the local office. Four hour in-person interview. Phone interviews consisted of technical questions and in-person interview consisted of technical and personal questions.

    Cons

    Incredibly smart peers and huge career impact(would be vary on your team) My team was great. Whenever u asked a question to your mentor, they will gently answer to your question.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Need to learn. Sometimes they need you to learn new programming language even you have not had any experience.
    A little pressure of completing a project early.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. A great experience working on a lot of different technologies

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

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

    Pros

    It varies from team to team but I had the opportunity to work on some amazing stuff that made me learn a lot about scale and infrastructure that goes along with such a huge eco-system. Another thing that surprised me was how smart a lot of the folks working here actually are.

    Cons

    Work-life balance isn't that great. Managers are nice and friendly you do get peer pressure to work longer than usual in order to generate the same output as others. Again, working with smart and motivated people who work a lot is both a pro and a con I guess.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do a bit more to make your developers happy. Just giving them a paycheck is not enough.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. Good people, good workers, culture of poor engineering practice.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    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 (more than a year)

    Pros

    You get to build stuff. You have to support what you build, talk to customers, etc., but you get real ownership of components and subject matter expertise. If you're good, find a good team - or even better, a good manager - and you'll do okay.

    Cons

    Way too many terrible engineering choices being made by mid and senior engineers. There's this Big Software mentality that engenders inflexible, one-shot designs - and pressure from all around to ship results as quickly as humanly possible with or without defects. Over time I've seen this in multiple teams and have effected some change, but it is as a few small pebbles in an attempt to alter a river's course.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Plan extra time for design. Ask for some kind of diagram, some explanation of the component-level design of new features and systems. Coding first and designing later inevitably results in poor architecture, release delays, testing difficulties and heavier team-wide burden supporting software which should have waited a little longer. Don't go all waterfall, but for pity's sake - ask for a design, not just metrics!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. I got to learn lot of things working at Amazon and improve myself both technically and professionally as well.

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

    I worked at Amazon.com

    Pros

    Work culture is very comfortable. Focus is given on getting things done.

    Cons

    Sometimes work can be overloaded making it difficult to balance work and personal life.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Compensation

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 3 people found this helpful

    Sadistic work environment

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Contractor - Software Development Engineer I in Seattle, WA
    Former Contractor - Software Development Engineer I in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Amazon.com as a contractor (less than a year)

    Pros

    Challenging, Weekly principal talks are interesting. Nice to be so close to the cutting edge.

    Cons

    my gardener makes more than I did there. If you are H1B, you will be encouraged and coddled, mistakes forgiven, mentored, welcomed. If you are not, good luck, you'll need it (mistakes collected and eagerly searched for, used against you, you cannot win).

    They have a system where the managers sit at their terminal and watch everything you do. Whatever you are doing on the computers there, the managers are watching, literally. All departments do this. Also, many teams have the desks configured so you are literally staring at each other while working. It's very very very hard to concentrate there. Meanwhile, they are gathering up any and all mistakes real and imagined so they can get rid of you and hire an H1B instead.

    It is a sadistic workplace, it truly is. They are more interested in messing with your head than getting any real work done.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider American workers who are out of work instead of punting all jobs to H1-B people. Encourage people to adapt and learn, train them and encourage them to stay. Amazon burns people out and drives them away and seems to pride themselves on this.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 3 people found this helpful

    Hard work, unclear projects, unclear goals, good pay, little advice.

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

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Pros

    Pays well for an undergraduate intern. 6k per month plus housing. I was in a hotel. Lots of people I knew loved it. Totally depends on your team. Looks good on a resume.

    Cons

    again this all depends on your team. My experience was long hours with less than clear goals. I was given an absurdly difficult assignment. This was later cut down but only after I wasted 3 weeks trying to solve it. (Significant portion of 12 week internship). The assignment was not possible with the code base I was working with. I got off the project only after I showed my manager that it would require a total refactoring (think 5 people working for 6 months) to get it working.

    The assignment I was given to replace the previous one was vague. It was boring. I did it but I hated it.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Huge difference in quality of internships. Some sort of way to keep these balanced would be great.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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