Amazon.com

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  www.amazon.com
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Work hard and smart.

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

I worked at Amazon.com

Pros

They get stuff done. There are a ton of technical problems and smart people working on them.

Cons

Work/Life balance has to be self managed.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Shield your employees.

Approves of CEO

3931 Other Employee Reviews for Amazon.com (View Most Recent)

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  1. 20 people found this helpful  

    A confusing, stressful job for young people before they go somewhere with real career prospects.

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

    I worked at Amazon.com

    Pros

    In a lot of ways, Amazon's weaknesses are great reasons to work there. It's a frequently disorganized company that does high tech work on a discount retailer's margins, so there's plenty of opportunity to take on complex tasks, self-initiate projects, drive them to completion, and work across groups. One thing that's basically guaranteed is that your job description doesn't cover everything you will have to do, or will have the opportunity to do. Also, it's fairly hard to get hired there--their interviewing process is nightmarish--so you do get to work with some very smart people once you're on the inside, and have great opportunities to create new products and drive concrete solutions to complex problems. At the very least, it is a very creative environment.

    Once inside the company, you also have a lot of opportunity to change rolls. After a year, you're welcome to start trying to interview with different teams for new positions, and there is even the opportunity to move overseas for short-term assignments.

    Cons

    Pay: Amazon doesn't pay especially well in terms of salary. They have "total compensation" which probably includes two years' of cash bonuses after your start date and a package of RSUs which really don't start vesting for two years. My "total compensation" was $10K higher than my salary, which isn't bad but leaves you at the mercy of the stock price. Advancement is slow; aside from a nominal COLA-like raise once a year after reviews, it can take a few years to get promoted a single level within the company, and even then the raise may not be that impressive. Basically what it comes down to is, your salary when you enter the company largely determines what your salary will be during your career there; they're mostly going to reward you with RSUs, not raises, which are really intended to keep you at the company longer.

    Advancement: This is a complete mystery to everyone involved. Three-plus years and I never figured it out, except that it has to do mostly with your direct manager. They're responsible for representing you in the process, so a sleazy manager who promotes you heavily is good to have a review time, but a disinterested one or a bad communicator will basically leave you hanging. Sadly, in my experience, this is how advancement and reviews work at Amazon; they don't have much to do with the quality of the work at all.

    Management: Management is totally mixed at Amazon; some are great, some are terrible (in my experience MBAs are let run amok, and seem primarily to promote one another, at least in my group--we had a bunch from the same school). Some people get micromanaged, some are left to their own devices. As a matter or practice, Amazon hates managing people--most managers have no more than three or four direct reports, so there's a lot of mixing things up on teams: senior employers get one employee stuck under them and that sort of thing. That's one of the main reasons the experience of management can be so mixed--there's so many people managers who may or may not actually be assigning you work that it becomes a matter of personality.

    Environment: The workplace is weird at Amazon--it's aggressive for sure, but not exactly a boys' club, so that's a plus. It is a very accepting of diversity place to work. But overall, there's a lot of confusion. They're constantly shifting levels of management, and theoretically everyone "owns" a core set of tasks or products or whatever, and there are channels that are supposed to be used to communicate with other owners and teams ("up and over"); in practice, this rarely if ever works, and if you want to be successful you have to friendly, reliable, and willing to take on other tasks for other people and work constructively with others, because frequently employees simply get together to solve simple, short-term problems and completely circumvent management (who prefer to have lots of agenda-less meetings to deal with problems). In that sense, Amazon is an extremely political place to work, because you constant risk stepping on someone's toes, crossing an unseen boundary, or things like that. If you're not a communicator or not friendly, this may not be the place for you. It's also a company that's basically relentlessly positive--it's typically bad for you to "go negative." They don't like to blame individuals for problems; even big issues are typically dealt with with a meeting where all the stakeholders get together and divvy up blame so that no one's left with all the responsibility. In a lot of ways this is good, but by the same token people's unwillingness to risk seeming negative creates an environment where there's a lot of evasion and frequently an inability to hold poor performers accountable for their work, particularly if they're gifted at skewing metrics in their favor. Remember, it's a political place to work, and if you can't explain something to a manager in a Blackberry-friendly format, they simply do not care to learn.

    Career Development: Aside from the fact you'll get great experience, learn a lot, and have a great thing to put on your resume, Amazon is a horrible company for career development. Lots of people leave after only a couple years. The weak pay scale means that you can get paid more with the experience you get there, while Amazon is largely incapable of communicating anything about career development that's useful. There's lots of talk about it at review time, but no follow through. There's virtually no internal career development opportunities, especially if you're not a developer. That said, it is a company that invites moving around internally. After one year, you're free to look for other positions in the company, and most employees are perfectly happy to sit down for lunch with you and discuss what goes into their job and what their team's looking for. So basically you have to network the rest of the company if you want to get anywhere, but be aware--changing jobs does not by any means equal pay raises or advancement.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The divide between senior management and the people doing the work below is a gaping chasm. The company really likes to believe that Amazon has a horizontal rather than vertical structure--that there aren't a lot of levels of management. In practice, this is sort of true, but you will rarely if ever deal with your team leader's boss at Amazon. There may not be a lot of layers of management, but it's definitely stratified. Having been at the bottom of the chain, I saw quite a lot of brown-nosing going up the chain--frequently managers would work long and hard to produce theoretically objective reports and metrics that obscured complex problems. Surprisingly, in the management, there's a real opposition to complexity. If it's not possible to put in a Blackberry-friendly email format, they honestly don't seem to care about it until it blows up in their face.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 13 people found this helpful  

    Worst. Job. Ever.

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

    I worked at Amazon.com

    Pros

    You're on an H1B Visa and its the only job you can get, or you're right out of college and having a "Big name" on your resume is worth it.

    Cons

    The primary, fundamental, downside of Amazon is that Senior Managment is both incompetent and arrogant. Amazon is a technology company but they do not have technologists managing people, even at low levels they bring in people who don't know anything about technology to manage engineers. At higher levels they have MBAs making technology decisions. Worse they are arrogant, they don't respect or value employees. They don't treat them well and they have built an HR department who sees its job as keeping employees in line rather than keeping them happy and productive.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Amazon.com was the worst place I've worked in my 20 year career and it is ultimately your fault. Go get a job at a non-technology company where you might not be exceeding your level of competence.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
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