Amazon Software engineer Reviews | Glassdoor

Amazon software engineer Reviews

Updated September 21, 2017
1,649 reviews

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Amazon Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
1,105 Ratings

1,649 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (440)

    "A huge diverse high tech company with all sorts of stuff"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon 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.


  2. "SDE Intern at Seattle"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Software Development Engineer Intern in Seattle, WA
    Former Intern - Software Development Engineer Intern in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Amazon as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    - Total ownership of a project that you can bring to completion
    - great on boarding process allowing you to ramp up and make an impact quickly
    - Interns are assigned to impactful and meaningful projects
    - Great relocation and housing support

    Cons

    - Not as many intern events/perks as other major companies in the area
    - Kind of difficult to learn more about other areas/teams of the company

  3. "Fun place to develop software"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Denver, CO
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Denver, CO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    • Great work environment: Amazon gets a bad rap and I hesitated when checking Glassdoor myself. I shouldn't have. It's a supportive, friendly, professional environment, and I really enjoy it.
    • Technical challenges: The work is difficult enough to stay interesting, and I work in more programming languages than I thought I would, which is fun.

    Cons

    • Pager duty: Often you will be on an on-call cycle, and you're expected to respond to issues very quickly, which definitely cramps your social call during your rotation.
    • Legacy code: I work on the retail website and am working more often within existing systems than writing anything from scratch. The older code isn't bad or anything, though, and this may be different in different areas.
    • Working across teams: You always have to interact with other teams, which can be tough when they're in other locations. Sometimes I wish I could just pick up the phone and talk to someone for five minutes.

    Advice to Management

    • I wish the 401(k) matching was more generous—that's my only complaint about compensation and benefits.


  4. "Amazon Robotics is the Best Place I've Ever Worked, Bar None."

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

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

    Pros

    -Work at the bleeding edge in robotics, swarm robotics, logistics, machine learning, and optimization
    -Design, build, and deploy infrastructure to meet global demand at a dizzying pace
    -Work closely with academia to stay flush with the latest methods
    -See your own ideas deployed at scale
    -See your work benefit the general public
    -Benefit from many opportunities for career development
    -Enjoy many opportunities for educational outreach
    -Do company-sponsored charity work
    -Be surrounded by brilliant people all the time
    -Enjoy flexible schedule
    -Watch fleets of robots daily
    -Take part in Orange Week, which is the best new hire orientation ever

    Cons

    -Staggering pace of growth can sometimes mean late nights, but in my experience, this has been minimal
    -Cubicles rather than enclosed offices
    -Many new employees don't have personal desks because of
    -Conference rooms and other group resources often contested

    Advice to Management

    Predict upcoming scale challenges with maintaining robots as we continue to ship unprecedented numbers of units so that we can forestall any situation that would make us into a maintenance company instead of an R&D organization.


  5. "Good place to work for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I joined directly from the university as an SDE I. Amazon maintains really high bar for all the things they do. I got thrown into those pool of people and you eventually become like that.

    -No micro management
    -flexibly work hours
    -can take vacation any time (at least in my team)
    -can move to other internal teams very easily. Plenty of oportunities there.
    - work on some rare problems that no other company in the world is working on.

    Cons

    -lot of stress
    -oncall issues.
    -pay changes only ones a year. If you do well for 6 months there is no reward for it.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Amazon software engineer intern review"

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

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

    Pros

    - worked on real systems that are deployed in production today
    - learned a lot about code quality, patterns, and designs used in industry

    Cons

    - Happiness is dependent upon your manager. My manager was great and I enjoyed working on the team, others have gotten the short end of the stick.

    Advice to Management

    Better selection process/training process/consistency in management to make employees happy.


  7. "Good company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Software Development Engineer Intern in Seattle, WA
    Former Intern - Software Development Engineer Intern in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Amazon as an intern (More than a year)

    Pros

    salary is competitive for an internship

    Cons

    work-life balance is not very good.

  8. "Incredible place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer-II in Herndon, VA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer-II in Herndon, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Very interesting and challenging work, I love coming to work every day. Hours are extremely flexible as long as you're getting your work done. Expectations are high but everyone is super smart and helpful so there are a lot of opportunities for mentorship by senior engineers.

    Cons

    No cons that I can think of some nice to haves would be employer paid family health insurance and maybe free food like some of the other tech companies!


  9. "Serious, professional environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Data driven culture
    - Strong emphasis on writing & communication

    Cons

    - Perks are below par for tech companies
    - Open space work environment leads to lots of distractions

    Advice to Management

    Find a cost efficient way to create focus zones to improve software developer's productivity


  10. "It is and always will be my dream company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Austin, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Work culture
    Challenging work
    Compensations & Benefits
    And the most important of all "Career Opportunities"

    Cons

    I am only filling this column because it is required to have a minimum of 5 words.

    Advice to Management

    I know that we strive to raise the bar when hiring new candidates. But I don't see it in practice.


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