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Helpful (17)

Great to have on your resume but not a place I had any desire to stay long term

  • Work/Life Balance
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
  • Comp & Benefits
  • Senior Management
Former Employee - Technical Program Manager II
Former Employee - Technical Program Manager II

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

Doesn't Recommend
Neutral Outlook
Doesn't Recommend
Neutral Outlook

Pros

Amazon is a resume-maker, make no doubt about it. Within months of having updated my LinkedIn profile, I had recruiters from Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others reaching out (I ended up interviewing at several and jumping ship to Microsoft). I'm sure this is partly due to fact of Amazon's reputation as being not the most pleasant place to work (so its employees are receptive to an 'out' more than some others) and because they are known to have a high bar for hiring..

It's also full of very smart people (though many of them are not nearly as smart as they *think* they are) and you get to work on big, challenging problems.

Lastly, their publicly professed focus on the customer is absolutely legitimate. It was great to see how they approached this from the inside as it's something I think Amazon gets uniquely right in the tech industry.

Cons

Amazon, like other big companies, will never present a uniform experience. Your experiences will depend on the team you join. There were a lot of people on my team who wanted nothing more than to get out but I have other friends who actually are fairly happy there. That said, there is some uniformity of the culture that has its origin in Bezos Darwinian worldview. The best advice I can give is to read the book The Everything Store as I think it nails the culture. Personally, I found it quite unpleasant. It is a harshly critical environment. Work environments that challenge you to be your best are great, but it seemed nearly pathological at Amazon. Anything I did was corrected by at least 4-5 people whether or not it merited it, partly so they could show off how they were *better* and partly because it's an ingrained part of the culture. One of the Amazon Principles are 'Are Right. A Lot'. I think the corollary to this is many Amazon employees think everyone else is always wrong and feel the need to constantly tell you. It gets pretty old fast. At first I took this personally and thought maybe I was just a screw up but when I started paying more attention I realized EVERYONE received this treatment.

Amazon is also the kind of place that will use you up and spit you out if you let it. I've worked at true start-ups in my twenties and put in hours that would put most of the folks even at Amazon to shame. In doing so, I learned what my limits were, how much of my life I was willing to sacrifice to work, and that ultimately I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. As such, I was well equipped to manage my work load and still be successful. I didn't work crazy hours or get too stressed out. But I saw those that had not had such an experience, and the often ended up worked into the ground because they didn't know how to draw the line at some point.

Lastly, Amazon is an extremely chaotic place. Many people who work there like to delude themselves into thinking it functions similarly to a start-up (anyone who has worked at a real start-up will immediately tell you it isn't really like one at all). The problem is, it's a huge company. And when a company exceeds a certain size, it *gasp* actually needs a bit more uniformity in process and coordinated long-term planning. Instead, Amazon makes pretensions to process but kind of lets teams do their own thing. Frequently, there is process, but it varies by team or if you actually use the 'official' process it just means you won't accomplish what you need to as you'll be mired in some dead-end path. The idea of being 'start-up like' like or 'scrappy' is wonderful in theory for such a big company, but in practice it just doesn't work. Amazon wasn't even particularly fast in pushing out new features, which is presumably the point of such an ethos.

Lastly, the comp really isn't that great. It's okay, but the benefits are mediocre at best, the base salaries are just average (I knew what a number of people were making from having discussed it) and much is locked up in stock that vests over years. It's basically a golden cage designed to keep people at the company despite how miserable most of them are.

And that's the thing I'd really impress on prospective hires, it was very rare I perceived anyone to be truly *happy* to be there. For my part, I did a year and got out. Not because it was unbearably difficult or the worst job ever, it just wasn't a particularly pleasant or rewarding place to be. I think if you know what you're getting into the cost/benefit is there, you get to see the company from the inside, work on big problems, and work with a ton of smart people. But it's not a place I could ever see staying more than a couple years unless you had no other option.

Advice to Management

Show your employees you value them rather than see them as commodities to be used up and thrown away. Ditch the abrasive, hyper-critical culture, the unnecessary long hours, and focus on making sure they have a pleasant experience. You cannot hire quick enough to make up for the massive attrition you guys have and eventually it will catch up with you.

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  1. Helpful (3)

    Amazon is a place where builders can build, mostly

    • 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

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Amazon has invested a lot in the development infrastructure. There are a lot of tools in place to make writing and deploying code easier; the learning curve can be steep but they really do focus on getting developers to a place where they are adding value. The team you work on will really impact how much you work and how intense your on-call is but my team has very reasonable expectations. I never work more than 40 hours a week and our on-call is very mild. This is not true for all teams.

    Cons

    The focus on "Bias for Action" sometimes equates to the ends justify the means and you get people who basically think they can bully you into doing what they want. Your experience at Amazon will really vary based on your team but can be hard to predict in advance.


  2. The best and worst of times

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

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    In most places challenging problems with motivated and competent colleagues working toward the common goal of making the most customer centric company in the world. Good rewards for implementing good ideas quickly. Culture encourages collaboration and access to intellectual resources. Competitive benefits with stock grants that reward pay for performance. The pace is usually exhilarating

    Cons

    Like most dynamic software companies the need for speed and impatience with failure biases work-life balance heavily to work at all technical levels evidenced in increases rates of fatigue and irritability. The pace reduces the time to recover. Q4 can be exhausting.

    Advice to Management

    Pay attention to average fatigue and irritability. See if reducing the average increases productivity.


There are newer employer reviews for Amazon.com
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