Amazon.com Reviews

Updated August 28, 2015
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  1. Helpful (13)

    Still Day One - for better or worse

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    * Hard to beat the size and scale of the problems you can work on * Great products with focused approach to the business * Breadth of projects and size of company means if you move about you can try a lot of different things ( You'll have to make it through the first year first though ) * Lots of smart co-workers * Great for networking: Continuous hemorrhaging of high quality employees means you can quickly broaden and improve your network outside of the company Amazon is an industry leader. There is a huge variety of positions and products available. You can learn a lot both good and bad in a short time at Amazon. Constant employee churn means you will soon find you know more people outside of Amazon than in. This will help when you decide to jump ship as well. Amazon facilities continue to expand. They offer few amenities comparable with their peers, but they do offer a downtown campus in Seattle which may be appealing. They dominate the South Lake Union neighborhood north of downtown Seattle so you may find yourself in new construction in a growing neighborhood. There is, however, a lot of friction with existing non-Amazonian residents.

    Cons

    * Extremely high turn over of SDE's and dev managers. You are unlikely to see your third anniversary no matter your commitment. * Too risky for people with families * Performance management and stack ranking may be creating perverse incentives that are harming company culture * Pay is so-so in comparison to peers * Benefits are not comparable to peers * Frugality can make it hard to do your job * Oncall and operational load can be onerous depending on the team * Work/life balance can be bad A large proportion of new employees don't make it through the first two years and not simply because of burn out. My impression is, at this time, far more new employees are actively pushed out within one or two years than leave voluntarily. If you are young and single and can approach Amazon as a temporary gig, it's worth a try, but I would NOT recommend uprooting a family and moving to take a job at Amazon. It is far too risky. I've seen too many solid engineers who delivered well get booted unreasonably before two years are out. (For confirmation checkout the tenures listed in these Glassdoor reviews. Take those with less than three years tenure with a grain of salt.) The stack ranking and performance management system is not transparent and can at times be erratic in nature. Bad luck as much as under performance can end your career. To survive the stack ranking process you must have a manager who will go to bat for you. If you have a weak manager, or worse, no manager, you are at real risk. New employees are restricted from moving in their first year, so you'd best hope that you end up with a good manager on a solid team when you arrive. If you arrive to a managerless team, a troubled team or an org under new management that is seeking to clean house, you will have little means to improve your situation and may very well be swept out despite your best efforts. Manager turnover is a constant. Not only does the software engineering staff turn over or get pushed out at a phenomenal rate, but the dev manager staff also turns over quite quickly. I have been at the company for a very long time and generally have seen dev managers have tenure of under a year in any particular position on average. Not surprisingly, the quality of the dev managers I've seen over the years consequently has been quite variable. You can easily find yourself with a manager with little technical skill, poor ability to manage upward or little ability to coach employees toward growth. Even if you find a high quality manager, it is likely you will find them gone before you've built a solid relationship with them. I highly recommend sticking close to good managers if you can, and you will generally find when one moves within the company, all the savviest employees under them will stick with them and move too. If you are new, and find all the senior staff fleeing, take note, you may want to jump ship as well before it goes under. For many years what I appreciated about Amazon was that the business leadership was smart, open to being challenged on the fundamentals and tended largely to make correct business decisions. In the past few years, however, I've seen a notable uptick in bad behavior and employees optimizing for themselves over the best interests of the business as a whole. With a company of Amazon's size, it is difficult to extrapolate one's own experiences to the the wider company, so I'm not sure if this is a problem local to my group or reflective of a wider culture shift. I will note I have seen this as a pattern in most of the recent groups that I have worked with, and many of my friends who are senior SDE's in the other departments across the company have left in recent years citing a similar problems where they work - an increase in employees seeking their own advantage rather than doing what's right for the customer and the company. The general assumption I've seen others make has been that the performance management system is starting to create perverse incentives for employee behavior, and that either in many cases it is too risky to do the right thing for the business or that over time we've gradually weeded out employees to the point where we now have a disproportionate number who are adept at gaming the system by seeking their own advantage above all else. But all that is, of course, speculative. It is increasingly hard to operate outside of the narrow confines of the expectations for your role. These constraints can make it hard to step up and do the right thing when a need exists. In general, Amazon does pay well in comparison to small firms, but does not pay well in comparison to other companies of similar size and prominence. Given the rate at which I've seen new employees get fired recently, I wonder whether they aren't also gaming the compensation system by offering a significant chunk of compensation in stock options that l many employees will never see since they will not survive beyond two years. If you find yourself comparing an Amazon offer to another large employer's offer take under consideration the likelihood that you will not see the full value of your stock grant. The benefits are also notably shabby in comparison to other large corporations. And Amazon's ever present frugality can be wearing. The majority of the staff I work with bring in their own basic equipment, down to mice, keyboards, monitors and even CPU's, because they get sick of the low quality tools the company offers. Frankly, it's embarrassing. Most groups have some level of oncall commitment. I don't find this onerous, but I know many do, it generally varies in quality and load from group to group. Ask carefully about this if it is important to you before accepting a position. I've known many an employee get caught by surprise when they arrived and discovered they were going to be regularly oncall. Ask what the ticket count is of any group you might join. It will give you a good sense of how out of control their operational costs are. Numbers in the hundreds is a serious red flag. While, I think, Amazon still has a bad reputation for technical debt and heavy operational load, I do think that this has vastly improved across the company in recent years and the internal dev tools do seem to be getting significantly better. It is a big company, though, and an old company (relatively speaking), so you will find a lot of old code coupled with the high employee turnover which means there is a good chance you'll end up owning a lot of poorly understood and poorly written code. If this is something you want to avoid, try to join a new team without much product history.

    Advice to Management

    Inflexible use of stack ranking is starting to harm the business. The hidden costs of pointlessly churning through new employees is never adequately assessed. (Amazon has never been good at assessing these sort of hidden costs across many different domains.) Employees across the company are prioritizing their limited and temporary personal needs over the needs of the business. The culture of the company is changing in a way that is making it less flexible and adaptable as a consequence. Amazon has always had a bad reputation locally for employee retention and relations. This too has hidden costs that continue to rise for the company.


  2. Pretty nice place to work, great company philosophy

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Software Development Engineer I Intern in Cambridge, MA
    Current Intern - Software Development Engineer I Intern in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon.com as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The mindset that all employees are the owners of the company make them more productive and cooperative. The motto of "The world's most customer centric company" is aligned with my goal to develop technology that benefits wide public.

    Cons

    It could be discouraging for employees that the company does not put efforts on branding. They might feel the company is less attractive than it's competitors in job market. Lack of perks such as free food or branded souvenirs is part of their principle of frugality. This can also make employees feel small compared to friends that work for competitors.

    Advice to Management

    Amazon should put every effort to attract the world's brightest minds. Your hiring system is effective in finding the strongest candidates, but also need to work to retain those who choose to go to another company. Branding is not only for customers of consumer electronics but also for potential human resources.


  3. Helpful (1)

    SDE

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer I in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer I in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great culture, great people, interesting problems, demanding work. Lots of opportunities for learning.

    Cons

    Amazon has a leadership principle of frugality. This translates to people being cheap, corporate sponsored events being few and far between.


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  5. Amazon review

    • 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
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Smart people Develop stuff that actually goes places and affects lots of people Teams do a decent job of self organizing

    Cons

    Compensation could be better Getting stuck under a bad manager is really problematic Stressful Scale presents large and annoying problems

    Advice to Management

    Be more willing to negotiate compensation Take individual contributor reviews of managers more seriously Stop with the stack and rank Be more transparent about personnel changes


  6. Software QA Engineer

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software QA Engineer
    Current Employee - Software QA Engineer
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Nice company to work with.

    Cons

    I don't see any cons.


  7. Good Place to work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer Internship in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer Internship in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Location is very good and people there were very friendly

    Cons

    Employee get less benefit in terms of Amazon prime or free lunch.


  8. Helpful (7)

    Below Expectation

    • 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Huge platform and data to work with. Amazon challenges you on every aspect. Good knowledge sharing process.

    Cons

    Not at all employee centric, no perks at all. Way too frugal, esp for employees.


  9. Helpful (4)

    You'll enjoy it (if you're up for the challenge).

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

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

    Pros

    You will learn and grow at twice the pace compare to other companies. Plenty of training opportunities. Best engineers in the world. Very engaged and hard-working workforce. Amazon's 'Leadership Principles' make sense, are used every day, and are what makes the company tick.

    Cons

    Hard to achieve work-life balance. Not recommended if change of direction makes you dizzy. Getting promoted is harder than in other places. If a manager / executive - expect bigger responsibilities but smaller title compare to other companies.


  10. Helpful (7)

    No place for life!

    • 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Challenging assignments and good learning experience.

    Cons

    1) Unrealistic deadlines which mandates working over time on a regular basis and takes time away from life. 2) Not at all a company for families with kids. 3) Working long hours and taking sick days to cope up with the sickness and stress is a routine here.

    Advice to Management

    Be realistic about the deadlines. Give newbies time to breathe and adjust. Don't expect employees to be married to the job since their personal lives are hugely impacted. Believe in work life balance.


  11. Helpful (5)

    Great place to learn and fantastic coworkers, but a draining environment

    • 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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    - Incredibly smart coworkers. You will learn a lot in your time here because there's highly intelligent people to learn from. Your coworkers also tend to have your back - there's a "we're all in this together" sort of vibe. Amazonians are self starters and eager to learn inside and outside the office. It's the best part about working here, hands down. - Lot's going on. There's always lectures or presentations by senior engineers being held. They're very enjoyable and informative, and inspire that you're working for a company with a good head on its shoulders. The leadership is ambitious and trying new things, and succeeding in a lot of them. There's also just so much being worked on here, so the opportunities to work on something new are everywhere. - Culture of accountability. I've heard otherwise on other teams, but generally the people I've worked with are unafraid to admit their mistakes and don't engage in much finger pointing. People are focused on the bigger picture instead of getting wrapped up in the small things. There's a strong culture of customer focus that guides decision making. - Pragmatic lower management. Most of the managers I've worked with have good technical chops, so you don't need to waste your time explaining why what sounds like a small amount of work will actually take a significant chunk of development time. They also don't get caught up in their own agendas. Praise is given where praise where praise is due, and poor practices or sloppy work are rightfully called out. I've really liked most of my managers. - Ownership. Devs get a lot of freedom and say in design choices. You become responsible for your code base and its quality, which can be a rewarding feeling. You'll start to know the important faces of the various teams you work with, and they're usually very accessible. Dev collaboration across teams is generally a positive experience. - Fantastic internships. You'll get to work on something with real impact. Interns don't get the leftovers or throwaway work. And because it's Amazon, it looks great on your resume too. If you get an offer, I'd highly recommend you take it. - Adult perks. This might be a little controversial, but I'm glad the company doesn't waste money on silly things that I don't need. Maybe it's just me, but I don't want the new iPhone or a free Xbox gifted to me, nor do I need little conveniences like free laundry in the office to keep me there longer. I'd rather be able to use my compensation how I wish. Yeah, there's no free Prime, and the employee discount is lackluster. Instead you get stock. And right now, the stock is doing quite well. Were that to change... yeah, maybe a different story. But if you manage it well and remember to diversify every now and then, it's really nice.

    Cons

    TL;DR - I'd give 3 & 1/2 stars if I could, but my personal life and stress levels have taken too much of a toll to justify 4 stars. If you are on the fence about working here, I would highly recommend you take the chance. Just expect to work hard, and to plan your life around your work. It's definitely not for everyone, and after a few years the poor work / life balance has gotten to be too much for me. But you will learn a lot in a short amount of time, and it makes you very marketable in the future. I've also made some great friends here. - First job experience. If you are straight out of college or new to the industry, be ready for a bumpy ride. I found that there was very little guidance and you're left to sink or swim on your own. Those who don't learn to manage themselves do not last. I wish more time was spent training employees in the soft skills needed to do this, especially since so many of our new hires are new to the industry. - Work / life balance. They're good about letting you take time off when you need to, but working late has become the norm. And unfortunately, because it's a younger environment where people have fewer obligations outside work, most are willing to do so and it becomes part of the culture. You will stick out if you're used to regular hours. As far as the presentations listed in the pros? Well, it used to be I'd attend these fairly frequently. Nowadays I no longer bother, I just don't have the time anymore. - Employee retention. I'm not sure what to peg this on, but I'm sure the work / life balance has a lot to do with it. I don't think it's a coincidence that the older engineers or ones with family hop ship, leaving a lot of young, single engineers to keep things running. Few people stay for very long, so there's always new faces needing ramp up time, and usually they're eager to prove themselves and willing to put up with anything. Lack of retention has led to code maintenance being an issue. There are dark corners of the codebase that no one is familiar with that you will likely get paged for and be expected to fix ASAP. Leading us to... - Pager duty. Certainly not as bad as it used to be if the older reviews are scaring you away. They've made major strides on improving upon it, but there's still two major issues. One, there's no real acknowledgement of the time you give up on your weekends or after hours (at least, not anymore) so it's effectively planned overtime. Two, you will get paged for services you have no real knowledge of. It can be a frustrating experience trying to figure out what's going on with code you've never worked on and figuring out who you need to disturb on a Sunday morning. - The stress. Missing a deadline or breaking something in production is a big deal, depending on the team you work for. In my experience, management is pretty understanding, but it's still a lot of pressure because the stakes are so high. Additionally, it's easy to become overworked and burn out if you don't learn to push back. You can expect to constantly have multiple people breathing down your neck to do something, and be put on the spot when one thing goes unfinished because you were prioritizing something else. The other comments I've read about it being Darwinian here are valid. I've had it hung over my head how much I make as rationale for working extended hours. It was exciting trying to "make it" at first, but at this point I just feel drained. - Overburdening. You will have a lot of responsibilities outside of normal software development. A lot. And it's up to you to find the time to do them. The caveat? You will not have the time to do them. You're also left to figure out how to accomplish these additional tasks on your own. There's very little divisioning of responsibilities, and for a long time we had no dedicated resources for QA or testing. Bugs would often slip through because you have a green software dev responsible for such things, who has never had to do them before. In some ways, it's a good thing because you become more well rounded as an engineer. But it also makes it incredibly hard to focus on actually writing software due to context switching and subsequent inefficiency. - Fire drills. Does your team have its next sprint planned out, ready to meet that looming major deadline? Too bad, something somewhere just broke, and you need to scramble to fix it. In all seriousness, this is a major problem, and I feel really bad for the managers who have to plan for this. As a dev, sometimes its fun and engaging to work on something urgent. But then someone has to stay late to perform the fix or monitor the service, and either schedules get finagled or some righteous person picks up the slack. This happens far too often, and makes committing to deadlines a damning prospect. - Lack of perks. I know I listed "adult perks" as a pro, and I do like the stock options, but there's some drawbacks. Yeah, you'll be awarded stock, but you won't see that money for a while because it has to vest. Take the numbers listed on that starting bonus with a grain of salt, and keep in mind you have to work here for a few years to see them. Many don't last that long, and so never do. Additionally, there were attempts to add fun little perks to the office like a masseuse and espresso, but then they would disappear. As for why, I expect it's because they either costed too much or no one had time to actually use them. Not a good sign.

    Advice to Management

    If you want to retain more employees, give them the training they need to succeed here. Appreciate the extra time and effort people spend to keep this place running. Acknowledge that this is a difficult work environment, and those who stay put up with a lot.



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