Amazon.com software engineer Reviews

Updated September 16, 2014
Updated September 16, 2014
3,498 Reviews
3.3
3,498 Reviews
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Amazon.com Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
2,424 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Good opportunity to learn a lot in a particular area of software development (in 101 reviews)

  • Density of talent: Some really smart people spoiling their careers here (in 306 reviews)


Cons
  • Company is not at all sorry to screw people's work-life balance for itself to excel (in 540 reviews)

  • There is literally no work life balance inside this company (in 125 reviews)

More Highlights

747 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Amazon.com: great company to work for or GREATEST company to work for? ;)

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

    I worked at Amazon.com

    Pros

    It's an extremely open environment where communication is easy and people are very helpful. You know that you're surrounded by really smart and talented people, and everyone is very supportive and competent. The managers are technical and dependable. They do so many things that it's easy to find your niche, and the office environment itself is nice. At one of the office building you can bring pets with you to work. There's free tea and coffee, too. The layout is a mix of high walls, cubicles, and offices, which I think is neat. Breaks are encouraged for playing foosball and dodgeball and such. The best part is probably knowing that Amazon has so many great businesses that are executed with precise management. They really aren't evil, and are just a great competitive policy. Jeff B even has a policy of not talking publicly about competitors.

    Cons

    I would've liked more recreational errors. I know that's a Google-y thing to say, but I understand that they're trying to stick to a core value of frugality and I really dig that.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    More foosball tables and dart boards and maybe video game areas for lunch breaks? =D Maybe some snacks in the kitchen, like fruits or granola bars. There are other companies who offer a couple of free meals each week so that would be really cool, too. And I wish I could buy corporate gear, because I really am proud to be a part of Amazon.com.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    About what you'd expect when you sell your soul. You get a good price for it though.

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

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Pros

    Money, Money, Money, Money, Money

    Cons

    Working conditions (small cubes), tools available (one-size-fits-all computers don't really fit all sizes), competence of project managers (disorganized, no formal requirements setting), the need to maintain your own systems (nighttime and weekend calls/pages), lack of testers, lack of support staff. Basically, engineers are highly skilled web developers and system administrators. The compensation scheme also doesn't put much emphasis on performance, so the compensation is pretty similar if you did a good job or a bad. And people who are jerks, who don't get along with anyone and disrupt teams, aren't handled. They stick around forever.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Faster turnaround on evaluations, and put more emphasis on performance when determining compensation -- maybe move to larger bonuses (immediate bonuses -- 2-year-away stock doesn't count). Realize that a significant percentage of the best developers in the industry change jobs every 2-3 years. Make Amazon a place they want to stop in.
    Give developers more freedom to get more tools. You spend over 150K/year on them, but won't give them another gig of RAM? or a third monitor?
    Invest in TPMs. They need to be technical and understand requirements.
    Make it easier to get rid of people.
    Why can't we have more webdev's to do html?
    Why do most of us have pagers and not support staff who aren't developers?
    Why don't we have more testers?

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Can be a great place to work, depending on what team you're on.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • 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

    Teams tend to be very small and they work fairly independently from each other, which helps keep things moving along quickly. Teams also own their business, which means individual members can have a large impact on what the team produces and how their business grows. Most of the people you work with are very smart and produce quality work.

    Amazon's business and scale provides has a huge variety of problems to solve (it ranges from building cool web applications, to optimizing order fulfillment and shipping, to personalization, to web services). If you are unhappy with your current team, odds are there is a team elsewhere in the company doing something you find interesting. Internal transfers are fairly easy and happen all the time.

    Cons

    The model of having many small independent teams has several downsides:
    - There is often duplication of effort because you can't convince a team you depend on to prioritize work you need, so you might end up doing it yourself.
    - Most teams do not have dedicated a support or operations team. This means SDEs are responsible for deployments, operational issues, selecting hardware, etc. Most SDEs are part of an on-call rotation.. when they are on-call they have to carry a pager and need to be able to respond to pages within 15min. The frequency and intensity of oncall varies greatly by team.
    - There is a huge variance in quality of life depending on what team you're on. If you work on a team that has a heavy ops burden or owns a lot of bad legacy code, you will probably hate it.

    In terms of culture, Amazon is a very frugal company. No extravagant benefits, fairly cheap office equipment, etc.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I think management needs to work on being more open with their employees. Amazon tends to keep decisions secret until they need to be shared. While this makes sense for new product launches and such, it's a little ridiculous when it comes to root causes for outages, employee feedback, and organizational changes.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Totally worth the experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • 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

    The engineers are generally motivated and talented. Incompetent people get fired (that sounds scary, but the opposite is true). There are interesting problems to solve. The pay is good to very good. Engineers, generally speaking, get more respect at Amazon than other companies for which I have worked.

    Cons

    Like everywhere I have worked, some groups are better than others. Also, the overall quality of managers seems poor compared to other companies. I think that is because they get burned out and quit.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If Jeff Bezos ever quits I trust your abilities so little that I will be next out the door. Start to add some value or leave!

    Approves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Passionate people makes everything easy

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

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Pros

    Salaries, freedom of action, responsabilities

    Cons

    Slowness in managerial decision making

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get to the point and when questions are raised, converse with the expert employees you are paying to tackle those situation instead of believing in top down management

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Fairly Satisfying Position

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

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Pros

    The great things about amazon are definitely the salary that the company pays its employees and the fact that the company is still young and has lots of market it can still capture. Another huge bonus is that they have a downtown office that's right off the I-90 corridor (but that's going to change soon)

    Cons

    I think that Amazon.com hires many amateurs, so it's tough to find experts/mentors, unless you're in one of few technically innovative groups. These isolated areas tend to also be the only areas of true technical innovation. The company also has a preference hiring talent instead of developing internal talent.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus more on quality rather than quantity of features.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Amazing

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

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Pros

    Great culture. Smart people. Customer focus.

    Cons

    Operational burden. Benefits and career development.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep up the customer focus

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  9. 3 people found this helpful  

    Replacing you is cheaper than paying you more

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

    I have been working at Amazon.com

    Pros

    You get to 'own' what you work on - no one will come rescue you. So you'd better be on top of things

    Cons

    Chaotic, last-minute changes, endless bickering over details, extreme lack of long-term vision planning and communication, little understanding at upper levels of efficient ways to work better, management requires working demos (requiring enormous amounts of throwaway work), management forgets previous decisions at every design review meeting, extremely poor benefits package (they're just cheap!), offices and furniture are often shabby and worn, reviews are simply random facts, managers are not accountable for bad decisions, bad people skills get you ahead, "good" managers are those that avoid work and foist off their responsibilities to others, hard work is *not* rewarded or even recommended, but endless meetings about what should be done are the way to succeed.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop requiring working wireframes - learn how to conceptualize! Stop changing your minds because you think you have all this "free" labor that will work weekends endlessly trying to figure out a solution that meets your unclear dreams. Learn that "rewards" such as "top employee of the cube farm" are not the same as cold hard cash: Show Me the Money, Baby!

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    Great place to learn, schedule is a strain.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • 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

    Learn the workings of a large distributed system and huge world-class website; learn technologies and software development ideas from coworkers. Good money.

    Cons

    The on-call load and pager duty is onerous for Software Engineers maintaining servers. Promotions are rare. There are many non-technical managers leading technical teams. Frequent re-orgs are confusing and disruptive. Java-obsession in some parts.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Expand the software development platform and hire more software system engineers and specialist web developers; enable software engineers to write software more; and to set up, configure, and maintain servers less.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Office Space

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • 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

    Pros

    The office space is amazing. Lots of cubes: rows and rows of cubes. Some windows, some chairs, etc. Some kitchens and sinks if you know where to look.

    Cons

    The office space isn't that great. Lots of cubes: rows and rows of cubes. Not enough windows or chairs.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Put more energy into improving the office space. I would prefer more windows and chairs in the offices, if that's possible.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

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