Amazon.com Reviews

Updated July 3, 2015
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Amazon.com Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
1,186 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

1,726 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (496)

    Can be amazing for some people, horrible for others

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

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

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

    Pros

    Amazon is doing lot's of cool stuff...but lots of boring stuff too. There are really well run teams...and very badly run teams. The experience for software managers and engineers is all over the board, from really run low operational load teams to teams where people burn out after a year.

     - Amazon is built, quite deliberately, to be Darwinian. You can generally expect that anyone who's been here for more than 2 years is competent and motivated or they wouldn't have survived. You can count on them as long as your priorities are aligned. There aren't many slackers here, and they don't survive long.
      - We work on so much stuff that there's always an opportunity to find amazing cool stuff to work on (note that it's an 'opportunity', one that you have to pursue)
      - A chance to make a huge difference
      - A place where you can learn a lot about all kinds of things, both technical and about yourself
      - Amazon encourages high mobility - even your manager can't prevent you from moving to another team within 6 weeks (normally, more than a few months under unusual conditions).
      - Your friends and family have actually heard of the place you work and have at least a vague notion of what Amazon does without you having to explain

    Cons

    - You're responsible for your own career progression and finding the places and teams that are doing the stuff you want to do. No one is going to take you by the hand and help you with that.
    - Amazon is built, quite deliberately, to be Darwinian. The strong survive and the weak perish (metaphorically speaking) and the 'bar' is constantly increasing. The level of performance that would have been acceptable five years ago will get you canned today. It's a kind of crucible that'll help you develop a harder edge, if you can survive, that can serve you well in your career and in life, but it's often not a pleasant experience.

    I wouldn't recommend it as a place to work for just anyone.

    Advice to Management

    Stack ranking is a horrible practice since it's rife with favoritism. It's also not Amazonian in that it's not data based (arbitrarily designating a certain percentage of employees that must be put on performance management isn't a data driven criterion) and it's not frugal (effectively forcing an individual out of the company in one division who would make the grade in another is either retaining someone who doesn't meet the bar or a waste of talent). The goal is to force managers to actually make the hard decisions about how their team members compare with each other (not everyone can be exceptional), but it has more defects than virtues. Replace it with a common comparison of each person against the bar for their position, based on data. The percentages that are assigned to each performance category will turn out how they turn out, but there will be an evaluation mechanism that's fair and frugal.


  2. Helpful (183)

    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.


  3. Helpful (14)

    Survival of the fittest!

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

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

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

    Pros

    Pace, Challenges, Learning - One has to deliver work at a rapid pace. Fail fast is a mantra here and there is no space for slackers!

    Cons

    Normalization - Bottom 10% performers have to be identified at every level each year. It gets tiring after few years as one has to be a survivor every year.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Not that bad

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Warehouse Worker
    Current Employee - Warehouse Worker

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

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

    Pros

    Good starting pay ($12.50 for night shift), benefits, LOTS of time off (also paid time off) you can earn if you come in on your scheduled days, lots of giveaways, 3 breaks throughout the day (two 15 minutes paid breaks and one 30 minute unpaid break). Also, if you have mandatory overtime, they'll pay $19/hr for one day of the week you had overtime.

    Cons

    If you're not talkative, you're most likely not favorited. Have a rate you should hit. They never tell us how exact our rate is calculated, so it's hard to improve on the areas you need improving.

    Advice to Management

    Educate us more on how our rate works and how to improve it. Also need better training.


  6. Helpful (1)

    Good place to work for short term period!!!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chattanooga, TN
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chattanooga, TN

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    good place yo work temporarily while you`re in school, just graduating or going back to school. Also if you have no good work experience you will definitely get it here, learning various jobs and putting them to use ten hours a day. Also you have to work honestly hard in the first couple of months to be converted to a blue badge. Once you`re a blue badge they start you off with 40 hours PTO, 60 hours UPT, 20-30 vacation . Like I said hard work pays off you also get stock in the company one hired on and after your first year they pay 95% of you to go to school. Pretty cool huh!!!!!

    Cons

    managers are constantly changing just like the work and it takes a long time for them to be replaced with someone that qualifies........ That sucks cause everybody is not a leader

    Advice to Management

    learn how to predict accurately when it comes to having enough labor to get the job done!!!


  7. good place to the work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Assistant Supervisor in Lebanon, TN
    Current Employee - Assistant Supervisor in Lebanon, TN

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

    Pros

    Good place to work, opportunities for advancement

    Cons

    too much management change over. A lot of overtime


  8. Helpful (5)

    Still some corporate red tape, but getting better quickly

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

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

    Pros

    I feel like I should write this review over things the company has been working on changing over the past year or so. Notable positives:

    - Removal of an "ask first" open-source/outisde-work policy, and replacing it with a "notify-after" policy.
    - Gradually moving to better technology (desktop/laptop) standards.
    - Emphasis on "Operational Excellence" to push for lower on-call burden.
    - Removing some red tape on internal activities, such as security certification.
    - Unification of the promotion process between some levels (SDEI -> SDEII) to make it more transparent.
    - More open debate about company culture on mailing lists.

    Cons

    The company can still be stupid (as a whole) with some business decisions. Some teams can still be terribly-managed, and if you're joining Amazon from the outside, it's hard to pick those out. In some areas, the company can still be really cheap. But, when you yell loud enough (and perhaps embarrass the right people) things *will* get done.

    Advice to Management

    Keep focusing on the employee. *Listen* to your employees, and not just the L7+es.


  9. Break Neck Growth - Diluted Culture

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program Manager II in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Program Manager II in Seattle, WA

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

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

    Pros

    Great place to get things done!
    Solid compensation!
    Motivated people!
    Growing business.
    Entrepreneurial environment.
    Jeff B. and Jeff W. provide great leadership by articulating and modeling the values.

    Cons

    Culture becoming diluted by hiring managers instead of promoting them.
    Work-life balance can be a challenge.
    Lots of smart people, fewer wise.
    Newer managers don't do a good job of walking the talk.

    Advice to Management

    Spend more time developing people. Many people like working at Amazon, but aren't helped to grow. Mentors are available, but a number of mentors just want another phone tool icon. Be available. People have value even if they need some support to succeed.


  10. Pit crew for a race car that doesn

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

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

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    1. It's in Seattle.
    2. You get to support the O.G. Cloud.
    3. Ultimate mobility - if you see a team you want to join, just start hanging out with them. If you're invaluable to your present team, it just takes a little longer.

    If you've been around, you've got a great shot at getting on one of the S3 ops teams -- only dev teams get resumes from recent grads. It's really hard, but it's all there, simply a matter of reading. Nothing at all off the shelf any more beside the hardware, all either open source or Amazon proprietary. Best integration of incident management and knowledge sharing, ever -- just read old tickets, all are heavily annotated. I strongly recommend this to cuspy olde UNIX admins, especially self-taught. Most important skill of all == log diving. Enormous and entertaining library of videos from principal engineers to teach the unique architecture. New model to scale to the always-increasing size of the cloud every few years -- you'll know when probability equations start showing up on the whiteboards in the hallway.

    Nothing wrong with developing or doing ops for other teams - my experience is limited to the S3 team.

    Cons

    Not just a time-sucker, can be a life-sucker. No one will force or even suggest putting in more time, it just happens because it's completely and utterly fascinating.

    Advice to Management

    Stop trying to turn committed technical personnel into managers. Some managers need formal management training, although Amazon values do define the ideal manager.


  11. Helpful (1)

    Ownership is key

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Money is good, there are mentors available for SDE1s and managers have incentive to get you promoted. There are also tech talks every week and a strong engineering culture. If you want to learn, you have infinite opportunities to do so.

    Cons

    Oncall - getting woken up at 3am to work is the worst feeling ever, and depending on the team you join, it might happen way too often. It can also be hard to find senior engineers to learn from, or to have as a mentor - the company is very young and the turnover is high. I've been there 3 years and my tenure is longer than 66% of the employees in Seattle.

    Advice to Management

    Do more to attract experienced talent and get them to mentor, do talks, maybe even give classes. There are not enough experienced engineers to learn from, and the ones who are there don't have time to help others learn and grow.



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