Amazon.com Software engineer Reviews

Updated October 24, 2014
Updated October 24, 2014
3,697 Reviews
3.3
3,697 Reviews
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Recommend to a friend
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Amazon.com Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
2,534 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • You can definitely learn a lot in short spam in Amazon as they make you work a lot (in 115 reviews)

  • Density of talent: Some really smart people spoiling their careers here (in 336 reviews)


Cons
  • Company is not at all sorry to screw people's work-life balance for itself to excel (in 605 reviews)

  • There is literally no work life balance inside this company (in 139 reviews)

More Highlights

781 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 28 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. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great place to work for high-functioning, intelligent devs

    • 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 full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    - Never boring, always learning
    - In-city location means you aren't forced to live in the God-forsaken suburbs
    - Noone will find your path for you, emphasis on ownership and personal responsibility (this could be a con if you're lazy)
    - High hiring bar means you're surrounded by people smarter than you

    Cons

    - Shifting priorities mean some projects never make it to production.
    - Job satisfaction tied closely to team. Some are awesome, some not-so-much.
    - Minimal perks other than compensation. Middling health benefits. Amazon is proudly frugal.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Maintain the high hiring bar. 100% medical coverage should be standard for salaried employees. Larks like the Fire Phone are hurting our image.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Excellent place to be

    • 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 full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Working with newer technologies, working on products that are relevant to customers, good work and life balance, great area to live and have a family.

    Cons

    Dev-ops means carrying a pager from time to time, getting paged at 2 am to fix an issue with your team's software or services.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Very good work environment

    • 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 (less than an year)

    Pros

    Good co workers
    can learn a lot
    very good work environment
    good pay

    Cons

    number of hours per week is insane
    cant spend much time for other activities

    Approves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Amazing

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

    I worked at Amazon.com as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    You learn as much as never before. It teaches you how to be on your toes all the times. Great work culture.

    Cons

    Fast Paced. Bad work and life balance. Long work hours.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    None. Already the best.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Software Developemt Engineer Internship

    • 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 as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    I would say it was best experience of my life. Got to learn many good practices and technique for efficient coding.
    I was not exactly a java developer but learnt a lot about java in this internship.

    Cons

    Smart people around and you really have to prove yourself to get return offer.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Title of my review

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

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Work-life balance, personal growth, is a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a

    Cons

    I don't think amazon has any down sides to it. Excellent culture, good people. a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Great place to work, but average compensation.

    • 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 an year)

    Pros

    - Great quality of work (esp. within AWS)
    - Surrounded by very smart engineers
    - Management is very receptive to ideas and feedback
    - Super customer obsessed
    - Strong company culture. People really believe in company's core values which makes for an inspired work environment
    - Highly data driven company
    - No politics BS

    Cons

    - Average pay and benefits. Amazon is lagging behind other companies in it's class (Facebook, Google, MS, etc.)
    - Slow promotions in some parts of the company
    - On call rotation can be bad at times (although it depends on the team).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Improve employee pay and benefits. People are not happy within the company with their compensation. Amazon is lagging behind other companies

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    A generally good place with some specific organizations doing great work

    • 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 full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Amazon has a high variability in talent and the kind of stuff it works on. There are places which are working on old legacy and so-yesterday problems and either re-writing them or deprecating old stuff. Same time there are organizations within Amazon that work on really cutting edge technology. You get to choose where you want to work. The best organizations also attract the best talent and are the most challenging places to work. The other places are not so great in terms of talent, but it may be a good choice if one is interested in working on relatively safe things and/or interested in a career in management. You can get paid well either way you go

    Cons

    There is stiff competition and work pressure can sometimes get to you.
    Managing a career is not so easy and there is not enough transparency. You can find out though if you talk to folks who have been around a long time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Great learning experience. Real Software development that matters and you learn a lot from the smart people around you.

    • 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 as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Great culture, work hard and do things that matter. You will learn a lot as an intern

    Cons

    Don't get much time to do other things. I found it hard to keep up with my peers who all worked late and had a lot more experience.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The work hours are too long for my team. I know times vary between teams.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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