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11 people found this helpful  

Exciting company, growing with a bright future, but varies dramatically between groups

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

I have been working at Amazon.com full-time for more than a year

Pros

Amazon's customer focus is the most genuine I've worked with to date, not like other companies who put some fancy words on the wall then do everything they can to ignore them.

Compensation is decent, especially singing bonuses which are huge. Relocation expenses are generous especially for expat hires. Share plan is pretty decent, if weighted toward later years.

Teams are very small - usually around 10-20 people - so relatively agile groups working on thousands of different things all at the same time so there's always something new and exciting being announced. Coordination between teams is mostly achieved though management which leaves the engineers on the ground free to execute.

Amazon is really ideal for interns, junior and mid-level developers - it's a great place to cut your teeth on big problems, get a lot of responsibility very quickly and rack up those crucial years of experience for your CV with a company that looks great

Amazon itself is clearly still on the way up. For a company that makes no money, it's growing super fast, doubling it's full time staff every couple of years, taking on more and more projects, breaking into new markets and technologies. If there's a peak Amazon is still a way from reaching it and the stock price reflects this

The head office is dog friendly - you can take your dog to work with you which is pretty cool

Cons

You'll notice reading reviews here are very mixed, and the reason for this are those aforementioned small teams. While this creates agility, is also creates huge disparity. The manager pretty much controls everything, so score a bad, ineffective or incompetent one and you're life just became hell. Some teams have insane on-call demands, others crazy work hours and deliverable pressure, some dysfunctional processes and decision making, and yet two floors away there'll be a cluster of 100's with great work life balance, competent management and great processes. It really is hit and miss, and if you'e unlucky you're stuck for the next 12 months.

Management in general is also hit and miss. The general shortage in the sector has meant especially in Seattle a flood of ex-Microsoft jumping ship, bringing with them a mentality which is as alien to Amazon's original culture as you can get which is starting to show. Decision making is increasingly pushed up the chain by deadlocked committees that have way too many people present, project launches pushed back, QA blindly executing thousands of test cases which no one has any serious faith in but yet will still block releases, etc.

There is an element of shortest-path mentality to the customer focus (frugality after all is a core value). This isn't Apple - rarely is the "best possible experience" a factor in decision making, rather push it into production as quickly as possible and worry about coming back to fix it later, knowing full well that actually never happens. The experience is patchy - some areas of the software will be amazingly tuned while others barely function. Some teams won't do anything without data and an A|B test to back it up, where's others will agonize for months over the right color background for the top-right corner in meetings that drag on for hours way overloaded with senior management.

Benefits are pretty minimal. Sure there's great insurance, commuter benefits, etc. but food is minimal, catering is non-existent, free drinks or entertainment a rarity and leave entitlements stingy. The technology they give you to work with is a joke when 32Gb of RAM costs like $100 these days and laptops come with 4Gb and weigh a tonne. Watch out - your 401k dollar matching is in Amazon stock that won't vest for 3 years, your RSU is heavily weighted to your 3-4 years and most employees don't make it past 2. Pay rises are small and grudging, and bonuses pretty much non-existent. Leave entitlements are really stingy.

Most mobility is lateral - individuals moving between teams - as getting promoted is really difficult, even from SDE I to II. Most senior positions that open up are filled from the market, and career mentoring is pretty much non-existent. Promotions are done by committees with managers fighting each other for a small number of slots, regardless of the merit of each individual, and "bar raisers" who will actively oppose anyone not performing above a bell curve that is disproportionately out of sync with the reality of the actual talent pool. For senior engineers don't expect to move up the ladder past your initial hire level anytime soon.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Perks are overrated, but if the bulk of your employees are young and relatively inexperienced these make a big difference to them especially outside of Seattle and makes it easy for other companies to attract and retain them. For senior staff the compensation and benefits are really starting to look stingy, and the lack of career mentoring and growth is just driving these guys away. Even if the junior staff are replaceable, you lose a couple of key senior roles and the whole team becomes crippled.

Amazon is now a huge company and its getting bigger every single day. Give up the fantasy that small agile teams can do whatever they need to get stuff across the line, because there are now 1000's of engineers working on some deliverables and the 2 interns who got assigned the task of building the foundation toolkit that everyone else now has to use just doesn't cut it. Processes and management need to adapt and either radically stem the tide of upward decision making or accept reality and own that process for what it is.

Recommends
Neutral Outlook
No opinion of CEO

3557 Other Employee Reviews for Amazon.com (View Most Recent)

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  1. 3 people found this helpful  

    Demanding but surrounded by fellow employees with a focused mission - CX

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

    I worked at Amazon.com full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Pays well, not many (or any) internal rivalries (some competing objectives but not many); intelligent people with professional interactions and fun place.

    Cons

    the demands and expectations are very broad and becoming unrealistic for a single individual to possess all the skills required to be successful.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Ensure there are career paths - if you do not begin looking to promote within IC to people manager, people manager to director, employees with this aspirations will become disenchanted and leave.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 3 people found this helpful  

    Know your leadership principles and manage your boundaries well.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior User Experience Designer  in  Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Senior User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Amazon.com full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Brilliant people. Exciting and challenging things to work on. Many small, iterative, collaborative, and innovative teams with the ownership to deliver results. Look for teams with brilliant business people at the helm that embody all of Amazon's Leadership Principles.

    Cons

    It is way too easy to commit too much time, energy, and your very essence to this place of many wonders. Once you start working 50, 60, 70+ hours a week it becomes nigh impossible to dial it back. There are few paths to leadership for UX professionals. Just as there are many small teams of brilliance and success, there are many other teams full of chaos and dysfunction.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find better ways to shepherd a new era of brilliant minds in to leadership.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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