Amazon.com Reviews

Updated August 30, 2015
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Amazon.com Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
3,307 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

5,452 Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (41)

    Fantastic for me, but depends on the work group

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Manager I in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Program Manager I in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time

    Pros

    Small teams Interesting, innovative projects Very smart people Doesn't feel like a cutthroat environment like you see at some competitive companies Stock Internal education system to learn everything from management skills to programming Quiet work areas Beautiful campus Start up feel Doesn't feel like big company Ability to make things happen quickly If you see something you want to change or take on, go for it! VERY flexible work schedule No dress code

    Cons

    It can be challenging sometimes figuring out where or how to get information needed for a project Promotion/advancement is totally up to you to initiate Everyone is smart, talented and motivated so you would need to do something pretty remarkable to be noticed as "special" Can be lots of ambiguity, but mainly because a lot of what is being done hasn't necessarily been done before

    Advice to Management

    More coaching to employees so they have a better understanding of how to advance. Other than that, very happy.


  2. Helpful (551)

    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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    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.


  3. Helpful (633)

    Make sure you know exactly what you're getting into

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Marketing in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Marketing in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The name will precede you. This company can legitimately be called a "Disruptor" and perhaps even a world-changer. Customers love it and it's amazing to watch it all unfold at times. It's a pleasure to be even a small part of that. Even low-level employees are given some ownership, more than they might in some other places. Processes like the customer service andon cord demonstrate this. Pay is mostly good, with some caveats (see the Cons section). You will learn a ton. You'll be put through the ringer, but will emerge stronger for it. It's been said that a year at Amazon = two years elsewhere. That's definitely true. You'll learn business, supply chain, tech, retail, you name it. You're surrounded by smart people who challenge you to grow constantly. That was one of my favorite parts about working here. You can bring your dog to the office, dress code is casual, and South Lake Union is a fun neighborhood to work in. Seattle is stunningly beautiful in the summer, too (if you have time to enjoy it, that is.) Bezos is one of the few CEOs I've seen who earns the glowing reputation. He's a genius and a visionary. It's exciting to work in his company, though the thought of what will happen when he moves on is also a bit frightening.

    Cons

    "Work-life balance" means different things to different people, so I'm not going to say it's bad here per se. That said, long hours are the norm at all levels across the company, and usually that's required and expected just to keep up. Expect 60 hours as your baseline year round and 70 or more during Q4. You should expect that your time and mental energy for kids, hobbies, etc. will be extremely limited. Plan accordingly. Whether this is a negative will depend largely on the individual; just ensure you know where you stand on this before you sign an offer letter. That Amazon is a massive company with tons of smart people at all levels can actually be a huge negative. You might be a solid individual contributor, but so is absolutely everyone else - and you're all fighting for the same attention. It can be very hard to stand out, and you have to ensure your manager and your manager's manager know what value you bring at all times or you're toast. (You may still be toast regardless.) That means politics, backstabbing, and stack ranking do occur, despite some claims to the contrary. People definitely look out for themselves and themselves alone here; it's not a collaborative environment. It's also very easy to get the sense that you are a highly expendable cog even if your contributions bring significant value to the company. Plan to fight for yourself hard here, and be prepared to not get much acknowledgment or praise. Even if you do prove yourself well, know that advancement opportunities are limited. Most transfers in my observation were lateral, with big new hires being external. I've heard that the strategy of many people is to do a few intense years of lateral moves which can then be leveraged into a higher position at another company. Compensation is a mixed bag. Salaries are just average, but you get a huge signing bonus and stock which vests in strange increments over four years. Since the average employee lasts less than two years, you will not see most of that stock and you may need to repay some of that signing bonus (usually awarded over two years) if you leave or are pushed out. Raises are very, very small each year - your salary will not substantially increase even with a good review. Most people work startup hours, so their effective pay rate is pretty low. Additionally, the company espouses frugality as a core value. While this can be a positive, it also means they're downright cheap on some things, including hardware. Employee perks are pretty much nonexistent, and that's compared to most big companies and not just the Googles of the world. Benefits like health insurance and 401k match are mediocre at best. No free Prime accounts. No paid parental leave; moms get disability and dads get zip. (As in zero. None.) I did mention earlier that this isn't the most kid-friendly company to work for.

    Advice to Management

    It's great to work at a place that highly values customer experience, so please keep that up. Work on your compensation - it's not competitive when compared to other tech giants. If I'm going to work as hard or as much as I did, at least I'd get free haircuts and food and massages at Google. Hell, even some paid paternity leave would be a start.


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  5. Helpful (203)

    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.


  6. Helpful (67)

    Everyone is very nice. Amazon Web Service Team is best out of all. Good work culture. One of the highly paying job.

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

    Pros

    vibrant, fast paced culture - smart, fun, aggressive colleagues - management is focused on latest tech trends and staying or becoming a leader for many of them - by and large, customers and partners are very positive about the technology - good benefits and perqs

    Cons

    Worse still is the politics. When you hire a bunch of smart, aggressive people, and put them in an environment of outsized expectations, throw in a bunch of re-orgs and changing management, and sprinkle with uncertainty and constantly changing priorities, you inevitably get people back stabbing each other and throwing others under the bus to appear smarter and more worthy of promotion.


  7. Helpful (49)

    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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    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.


  8. Helpful (4)

    AWS - The Culture is Alive (Cloud Support Engineer)

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Cloud Support Engineer IV in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Cloud Support Engineer IV in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I have heard from many people that the culture here at AWS is reminiscent of my former employer from 2010 (ie. 5 years ago). Work-Life balance is great. Expectations are reasonable. Pay is above industry average for experience and position. I don't feel overworked or stressed. This comes down to the way we set expectations with our customers. I used to get phone call after phone call (about 10 per day on higher volume days) at my last employer and there was a large emphasis on us answering the phones because there was no automation system (it was part of their support ideals that you don't get menus or automated responses). Here, we can tidy up the last project we were working on before taking on a new case, which lowers stress levels and lets us focus on the customer's case to the best of our ability so that we have less going on in our minds. Meetings are not excessive and are very pointed (the floor meeting is once per week for about 30 minutes and has a clear agenda with relevant information for the engineers). Team events/outings and general cohesiveness is abundant. Knowledge sharing is fantastic. I feel like I'm truly making a difference when I walk in the door. Oh yeah, flexible work environment: If I want to work from home, I can. If I want to work in the office, I can. If I want to fly home to visit family (or go to a reunion), I can do so and not take time off when I work remotely.

    Cons

    Internal Documentation is messy. It's being worked on, but it's hard to search and find relevant information. I feel sometimes that too much is kept secret, but there is no pretense with it as that is made clear to customers and they're fine with it. Though, sometimes it would be easier to explain why something broke for a customer if I could share additional details. Sometimes, communication between internal teams and support can suffer from interpretation issues and lag. Also, the mechanism by working in that manner is a chore since due to switchover.

    Advice to Management

    Keep going at the pace you are going. Things are definitely on the right track here. Maybe be a bit more public about a sharing additional details...something that won't give away material competitive advantages. Customers are smart, for the most part, they probably know most of the details as it is, but clearing it up instead of saying "I can't share that" makes them a bit more at ease. Telling them "I can't give you that information" only partially reassures them that it wasn't their fault.


  9. Helpful (10)

    Fast growing, amazing place with smart people, but political, too much ops, no perks, and routine work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Technical Person in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Technical Person in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    If you get into a good group with a good manager, and an acceptable level of ops, the place is really cool. The place is growing really fast. Most problems you encounter are because of that. There are a ton of really, really smart, innovative people. Amazon has not reached it's full potential. I feel like revenue could double in the next 5 years- it's growing that fast. Another benefit is that it's easy to move around the company, provided you get a good review, and stay for 12 months. You can move into totally different roles at Amazon- it's really fantastic. There are big, interesting things going on all over the place. The stuff going on is totally cutting/bleeding edge. But be clear, you may not personally "own" one of these things, or be directly involved. You need to get yourself involved in those things, which if you are a go-getter, is fine. If not, you may not work on the "cool stuff". Be warned. Total comp is really good- but make sure you know what you are getting into and negotiate strongly knowing you will work a lot, work hard, and Amazon has basically zero perks (see below). If you are shy about negotiating a good salary, you might feel like you are working too hard for the money you get.

    Cons

    Way too much ops, and too much time spent on mundane tasks. This is mostly because there is no priority put on cleaning up the "technical debt" that gets into the environment (and because of the pace). Stuff breaks all the time because known problems were never cleaned up. But, because management doesn't understand the total cost or impact on the customer, there is no change. It can be dog-eat-dog, political, and cliquey. There are some managers in Amazon that are good technically, especially because they know the technical history (which counts for a lot in a fast moving place which does not know how to manage knowledge), who have zero ability to manage. Get one and you are in trouble. There is a bit of group think- though it goes against the Amazon principles. Don't push back against the wrong manager or you are toast. Many, many people are very scared to speak up about things they disagree with. As everyone else says, work-life balance is poor, but since everyone at Amazon is an owner, Amazonians do it to themselves. It's not like your boss will push you to work nutty hours- you just won't be hired in the first place. Zero perks- if you are looking for free oil changes, free food, massages, sleeping pods, free soda, this is not the place for you. If you have a good manager, they will take their team out for lunch or drinks to try to make up for that.

    Advice to Management

    Clean up the technical debt- it has an indirect, but huge and important impact on the customer. A lot of people at Amazon are too focused on the next deliverable for the customer- at the expense of being able to deliver for them later. Make sure "not invented here" thinking does not continue to happen- which it is. "Social cohesion" is setting in, and people are misusing Disagree and Commit (to force their point of view). Last, I strongly believe that Amazon cannot continue to hire the best people with the no-frills attitude. Jeff thinks windows that open are a good perk (seriously- he said that, literally). They think that anyone who cares about perks is not Amazon material. Well- I think they need to face the facts that you can be an Owner and still want perks. Think about it- if you are working your butt off for tons of hours, would a bit of free food really hurt (or would it in fact be cost positive?)


  10. Helpful (4)

    Emerald City

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - L6 Manager in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - L6 Manager in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Stock actually paid out $$$

    Cons

    Work pace is crazy. 98% of people hired at the same time I was is long gone. I actually need to see a therapist, sleep expert, and other medical help in order to keep up. At some point my health will be the reason I need to leave. My co-workers at my level are incredibly smart and fun to work with but the candle is burning at both ends day in and day out.

    Advice to Management

    Planned Darwinism is old school Nazi. End the curve and train your managers on how to have and use human empathy and emotional truth to go along with their maths and data skills.


  11. Helpful (1)

    Stow

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Warehouse Associate in San Bernardino, CA
    Former Employee - Warehouse Associate in San Bernardino, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Amazon.com full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Offered a great full time schedule which 4 10 hour shifts the opportunity of guaranteed overtime.

    Cons

    Lunches can be 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes.

    Advice to Management

    Keep motivating us to to grow in the company.



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