Amazon Software engineer Reviews | Glassdoor

Amazon software engineer Reviews

Updated June 22, 2017
1,555 reviews

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3.7
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Amazon Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
1,029 Ratings

1,555 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Work life balance is a challenge (in 1709 reviews)

  • No work life balance around the holidays (in 374 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (33)

    "The only place where senior managers who cause 100% attrition five times over can still get $2 million bonuses."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The starting salary is extremely competitive. The hiring pipeline is also extremely efficient, empowering Amazon.com to court and successfully hire some of the smartest professionals out there. Unfortunately, those are the only positive thing I can say about the workplace itself.

    Outside of work, when you aren't getting paged up the wazoo by legacy applications no one in the company has any idea about, life is awesome. Seattle is a beautiful city with plenty of culture and no lack of things to do. A nice side effect of working at a place with insanely high turnover and high starting salary is that you end up with tons of young professionals, all new to the same environment and in the same stage of their lives ~ if you're one of them, there are plenty of people to meet and hang out with.

    Cons

    Amazon does not value its employees and this severely affects every aspect of worklife. Employees are treated as replaceable, renewable resources, not as members of a working team to grow with the company. The focus is on new hiring with the expectation that any semi-intelligent employee will leave within the first two years.

    New hire salary is incremented at well over 2x the rate that top members of a team are given raises. New folks regularly make 5-10K more than their tech leads who are the highest contributors on the team, breeding poor sentiment. Promotions are easily promised during crunch times requiring 100-hr work weeks and just as easily forgotten when promotion or bonus time actually does come around. Additional responsibility, both in person and in project management, are regularly compounded upon top contributors without promoting individuals to the authority such a position requires, making it difficult to get things done in a culture where cross-team cooperation is like pulling teeth.

    In terms of quality of work, there is no value given to developer time and no emphasis on the importance of infrastructure. Build tools are down daily and ownership is a lost concept. Scapegoating is a regular occurrence when site-wide post-mortems require heads to roll. Few things are properly documented, rarely anything is QA'ed, and as all original product engineers tend to leave within two years, nearly everything is a legacy application. The product-development lifecycle emphasizes pushing new features/products out quickly, leaving little or no time for QA cycles. The same engineers who coded the features under crunch are sometimes asked to do QA sign-off. Yet when they come back to management with lists of blocking/non-blocking bugs, they are asked to hide the lists and just to provide the sign-off. The result ends up being shoddy services held up by a company of already-overworked engineers serving constant on-call rotations who know they will be paged, but even knowing this are rarely able to figure out how to even begin debugging the systems.

    When I joined, every single person on the previous generation of my team had left. I later discovered that this was a regular occurrence which had already happened for the third time. All the great projects and career opportunities I had been sold on before joining were back-burner items reserved for interns and other people they had yet to sell a permanent position to. Regular employees were delegated to continuous on-call rotations for applications no one knew anything about and left to debugging bugs hardcoded years before. The overwork, stress, and lack of self-fulfillment created quite the back-stabbing team. In my first week as a new hire, I was angrily told by my mentor "Every time I sit down to get something done, you ask me a question." Later the same day, I was told by my manager "So I've talked to the team and they say you never talk to them or make use of their expertise ~ you simply putter in a stuck corner when you could just ask."

    As my time there progressed, I regularly discussed the lack of opportunities and the disparity between my expected and actual roles with my manager, who always promised clear action items to address my concerns ~ none of which ever happened. When I found a new team where I thought I could make a greater impact, my manager blocked my transfer, going all the way through HR to accuse of poaching. When I tried to leave the company, my manager tried to delay my resignation. Good stuff.

    Advice to Management

    I know that you've noticed when your individual teams have experienced 100% attrition five times over ~ what in blazes have you been doing about it?


  2. Helpful (54)

    "It has made me hate the world, and human race as a whole. 2 years later, I'm still trying to undo the damage."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The initial offer was the best I seen in the industry.

    Cons

    I joined my team last, but somehow became the most productive person in the team of 7 after 1.5 years. Probably due to the fact that I was young and naive, and believed that more good work I produce, faster I would would get promoted and receive raises. Not quite.

    I was working 140 hour weeks, having almost zero social life. They gave me a 1.5% raise after 1 year, citing that promotions and raises are not normally dished out to people who has been their for more than 1.5 years. The max raise was 3% annually, which was only 6 months after my last review period (which was discarded because I was too "young" in the company). So despite the highest performance rating on the scale, I received a prorated 1.5% raise.

    I was the engineer primarily responsible for launching a new store in the company. 5 days of almost zero sleep in the war room. Before the launch, my manager promised extra vacation for me to unwind, big raises and promotions. After launch, I barely saw the guy anymore. I quit soon afterwards. Then I found out the guy was trying hard to climb into the director seat. Which he did.

    While I received no pad on the back, no raise, no promotion, no extra vacations, the VPs all recieved a 2 million cash bonus, and directors 1 million. The only recognition I received was a $1.50 coffee purchased by my VP after 3rd night straight in the war room.

    When I played a small part in accidentally revealed project on the main site, which received wide press coverage. (Many other played a bigger part). I was the only one to own up to my mistake. Therefore, I was single handly scapegoated for the incident. I was not allowed to defend myself in front of the post-modem committee, because management deemed 3 hours out of my time would jeopardize the project. So they wrote something in my place admitting guilt.

    When I was leaving, I was appointment manager of two new hires. Even though I was still SWE1 (they never talked to me when the HR promotion cycle came and went). Both new hires were paid 10k more than me a year, plus 5k more cash bonus. That's when I just left.

    If you are a masochist, or curious about what complete hatred for the human race feels like, go work for Amazon.com. For that, they won't disappoint.

    Advice to Management

    Stop trying to build your career by stabbing your employees in the back. Bazos, stop micromanaging, you are not the smartest person in the company.

  3. Helpful (13)

    "Great place for interns to start their careers."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The people here are good, and the company has accomplished some great things. The interview process is grueling but effective; there aren't very many people here lacking in intelligence.

    The management has realized the value of a balanced life; we aren't asked to work extended hours. At least in my group, they're doing their best to keep the unpleasantness of being on call to a minimum.

    The mentoring program seems to be pretty good; the principal engineers put on some pretty interesting presentations describing the technologies that they're working with, and technical issues that affect developers.

    There are some interesting technical problems to solve at Amazon, so if you're lucky enough to be on a team that's solving them, you will probably be quite happy here.

    Cons

    For the most part, the work is maintenance. Most engineers end up spending more time wading through low-quality code and fighting with configuration problems in the development environment than they do coding. Unless you're on a team that's developing new software, most of the code required is little more than patches and glue.

    Most of Amazon's technology is out of date, including the low-end computers that the developers receive as workstations. The main platform is several years and two versions behind the times, and there's a surprising amount of business-critical code written in low-quality Perl.

    All of this is exacerbated by a fairly mediocre benefits package.

    Advice to Management

    Take a look at what most of the developers are doing, and how underutilized your talent is.


  4. Helpful (10)

    "If you have nothing else to do in life this is a great place for you to be awake all the time..."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Because you are everything (PM, SDE, SDET, Build/Deployment Engineer, Support Engineer), you can learn a lot. But this comes at a huge cost of sacrificing your life. If you have nothing else to do in life this is a great place for you to kill your time.

    Cons

    Long working hours
    carrying a pager which will page you 100's of times when you are on call
    no work life balance.

    Advice to Management

    clean people and process.


  5. Helpful (11)

    "You can learn a lot but say goodbye to your free time"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    If you are fresh out of college, Amazon can be a great place to pick up loads of skills. You wind up (mostly) managing your own projects end to end, so you wind up learning about build, deployment, system administration, schema design, as well as any coding required for the task. You also learn about scalablity. And of course, you get to work with lots of cool distributed technologies. There's something to be said for having software that runs on hundreds of servers. There are a few nice perks as well, such as a free bus pass and occasional keggers. The environment is pretty relaxed in that you don't have to dress up or watch what you say.

    Cons

    You get a pager pretty shortly after starting and are expected to respond to it at all hours. Management expects everyone to work crazy hours and thinks nothing of asking you to work weekends, nights, or even cancel your vacation to support a project launch. Cooperation between teams is nearly non-existent and you will often wind up implementing necessary features yourself. Due to political wrangling you can wind up taking on responsibilities far outside of your realm, like taking over QA's job for a spell. You are expected to provide frontline support for the databases despite your level of database knowledge. Unless you are really lucky or really senior, expect to spend < 25% of your time actually writing software - most of your time is spent troubleshooting or triaging emergencies.

    Advice to Management

    I would advise they focus more on quality and stability for a time rather than forcing releases out the door.


  6. Helpful (18)

    "Great for customers, bad for employees"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Amazon truly values the customer. There were a number of instances where Amazon would do something which short-term wasn't good for the company, but was definitely good for the customer. Bezos strongly believes that doing the best for the customer will also be best for the company long-term.

    Cons

    I worked there for three years as a software engineer. There is constant turmoil and shuffling of people and managers. The company is basically a meat grinder for employees. Engineers carry pagers and spend significant time temporarily patching up things that are broken.

    The focus is on new shiny things rather than truly fixing things that are broken so that they work right. For each group doing the "next big thing" there are three groups doing maintenance work of some horrible legacy system.

    The rate of attrition is unbelievable. One area of the company I worked in had about 45 engineers and had a rate of attrition slightly over 100% meaning that, within one year, every engineer had left and been replaced.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on regretted attrition. Treat employees like you treat customers. Figure out why they're unhappy, make the environment better. Focus on making the internals of Amazon operate as well as the public image.


  7. Helpful (26)

    "Worst. Job. Ever."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    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 Management

    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.

  8. Helpful (22)

    "Good if you have the personality for it"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Profitable company. Things move fast. You can see your code changes in production in no time. Looks good on resume. Cubes have a nice view if you get a lucky seat. Some, not all, of the technology is cool.

    Cons

    Obsessively driven co-workers with no lives.
    You will be expected to work 45-50 hrs a week just to keep up.
    October to Dec 25 is treated as crunch time because of the holidays.
    Mandatory Oncall from 1 of every 4 weeks to 1 of every 8 if you are lucky.
    Developers are 30% tech support for their service, 40% business analyst and 30% developer.
    You will spend far more time learning the intricacies of shipping boxes through UPS than working on "cool" things and you will be expected to feel passionately about those boxes.
    Standard "lean" process speeches from senior management over and over.
    Priorities change at the last minute.
    Chaotic undirected environment with everyone competing for air time.
    You have to learn a thousand buggy in-house made tools
    You will be a cog in the machine. Squeak and you will be replaced by a new college grad.
    There is a reason nearly everyone there is under 30, think about it.

    Advice to Management

    Treat employees like people not code. Give better bennefits (medical/dental premiums). Why cant we all have Kindles? Stop reading all the stupid lean manufacturing/six sigma crap and think for yourselves.


  9. Helpful (4)

    "Jeff Bezos is a genius and a visionary"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Jeff Bezos has a great vision.
    These are the smartest, most motivated, and professional people that I have ever worked with.
    Amazon puts the customer first.
    There are a bunch of great projects to work on.

    Cons

    Work style is confrontational.
    Entire company is micromanaging everyone else.

    Advice to Management

    Great future vision for customers.Review the culture so that employees feel secure enough to take risks to improve things.


  10. Helpful (6)

    "Awful for engineers"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    -smart people to work with
    -fast paced, you get to learn a lot

    Cons

    - you have to carry a pager
    - incompetent middle managers
    - treats employees like furniture


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