Amazon Software engineer Reviews | Glassdoor

Amazon software engineer Reviews

Updated June 23, 2017
1,030 reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Work life balance is a challenge (in 1724 reviews)

  • No work life balance around the holidays (in 376 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Varies by team, but my experience has been great"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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

    Pros

    I've heard everything from horror stories to "best job ever" stories; bottom line is, your experience will probably vary a lot by the team and position. That said, here are some things I've enjoyed on all of the teams (4 so far) I've worked on:

    - Working with smart people. At every level, in every position, my teammates have been outstanding, really inspiring me to raise my own game
    - Working on interesting problems. There's a huge breadth of work to be done, and finding a team that's working on something interesting has not been a problem.

    Cons

    - Team experience varies widely across the company. I've heard stories similar to the worst of them: folks working insane hours on unreasonable deadlines, etc. I will say it's gotten better--the market is so tight right now that those teams either adapt or perish
    - Amazon-scale is a double-edged sword. The problems you get to solve are like no other in the world. But on the other hand, everything you want to do is enormous and complicated. Systems are broken across teams, and every new thing that you want to do is likely to require contacts across multiple teams and even multiple organizations. Luckily, Amazon has a formal mentorship program to help newer folks navigate


  2. "There are ups and downs, overall there's lots of cool tech to work on."

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

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

    Pros

    Huge company that is doing a little bit of everything. Your contributions do have an impact of the direction of your group.

    Cons

    Problems get approached with a one-size-fits-all approach quite often. In embedded engineering that usually doesn't work. Tooling, environments and methodologies for embedded don't match up with web services.


  3. Helpful (1)

    "Senior Software Engineer"

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

    Fast pace environment, interesting technical challenges with scale and latency challenges. Some really nice people to learn from but lot depends on team

    Cons

    Diluted role no real career paths at higher levels , Sr SDE position is diluted with various skill levels for same position

    Advice to Management

    Take care of careers not positions


  4. "Software Development Engineer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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

    Good challenging, good technical learning place, full with passion.

    Cons

    Poor profit & Benefit, suck oncall.

    Advice to Management

    More benefit, less oncall.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Your experience will totally depend on the group"

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

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

    Pros

    I absolutely love the group I'm on and adore my team members. Everyone is super helpful and ready to answer my questions. I've learned a ton since I started (I'm an intern) and enjoy my project. My manager, mentor, and skip-level have 1:1s with me every single week, to talk about my career goals, issues I might be facing, etc - essentially, the meeting is mine to do with what I wish. Also, working from home is an option - not all the time, since asking questions is way easier in person, but if you need to do so occasionally, they're okay with it.

    Cons

    There's definitely a pressure to work more than 40 hours a week, so if that isn't your thing, walk away. Also, you need to be self-motivated. No one is going to offer help - you have to ask. Once you ask, though, people are willing to step up.


  6. "Much better than expected"

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

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

    Pros

    I hesitantly joined around a year ago. Hesitance based on public image. The pace is super fast AND there are many opportunities to slow it down to balance work/life... you just need to know how to take them.
    A lot of really smart people.
    Great tooling for quality of life for Software Engineers.
    Easy to push your own ideas up the ladder. Everyone seems very supportive about that.

    Cons

    Tons going on which results in a big learning curve. Lots of things and people to get to know

    Advice to Management

    Give people more time to ramp up.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "some Managers are hiring only people from India"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great Company, great pay,nice benefits

    Cons

    Especially indian hiring managers are hiring only indians. So many crappy developers have come board because of their ethnicity. These managers throwing so many good engineers CV to garbage to hire & sponsor somebody from india.

    Advice to Management

    Please check all recently hired people from India. . So many fake qualifications and fake job experience.
    Resumes should be review at least by 2 managers to prevent conflict of interest.


  8. Helpful (2)

    "Best technology company ever!"

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

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

    Pros

    Unlimited tech challenges
    Super brilliant engineers
    Good total compensation package
    The enthusiasm of being part of amazon's world domination (AWS, Alexa, Retail)

    Cons

    Your career at Amazon solely depend on your team. There are some bad teams among majority of great teams.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on teams where attrition is high.


  9. Helpful (5)

    "Poor Work/Life Balance, Fragile Legacy Systems, Primitive Tools"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Everyone truly cares about the customer. Some teams are working on game-changing technologies. Amazon is well-positioned to make an impact on the way retail operates and on the way everyday people live. The Principal Engineers are very smart and they give presentations on cutting-edge topics. The benefits are pretty good and the compensation is quite high even for engineers early in their career. Lots of people bring their dogs to work.

    Cons

    #1 Issue - Code Quality: Amazon has a leadership principle: "Insist on the Highest Standards." In theory, this means that the code quality should be high. In practice, managers have conflated unit test coverage with code quality. Is code coverage a good metric for code quality? Is it not possible to write incomprehensible spaghetti code with high coverage ratings? The manager still gets to submit a weekly report to the director with a nice, carefully-curated set of visual aids: pie charts and graphs, which business-types love. Meanwhile, the actual code has several problems:

    a) Many, many branches, with null being used as a sentinel value between interacting micro-services;
    b) Hard-coded domain knowledge;
    c) Overuse of semi-dynamic features like Map<String, Object> to bypass the need to write unit tests;
    d) Overuse of Gang of Four design patterns, with no actual knowledge of the appropriate use of those patterns;
    e) Extreme verbosity, with simple tasks requiring thousands of lines of unreadable code;

    #2 - Deadlines: Out of all the Amazon leadership principles, only one actually matters: "Deliver Results." Deadlines are short. Piling on more and more technical debt is encouraged.

    Promotions are given to the most "productive" engineers, and years later when the product they created can no longer withstand the demands of the market, they have long since left the team. You see this problem in the financial sector too. There is a strong incentive to hide latent problems deep in the software provided it gets it out the door faster, because the person who needs to maintain the software hasn't been hired yet, and by the time the latent problem becomes a real problem, the engineer has already been promoted and is long gone. A constant influx of fresh, low-level SDE-Is is required to maintain these old technologies that are drowning in technical debt.

    Attempting to sacrifice development velocity as a form of long-term investment in quality is punishable by placing you on a "Performance Improvement Plan."

    #3 - Primitive Tools: The tools that engineers use at Amazon are very similar to the tools you might find if you were to time travel to the year 2002. Ironically, there are no tools to help improve developer productivity. The "self help" culture at Amazon encourages you to solve your own problems, by yourself, on your own machine, with no help from others and without helping others. The productivity-based promotion system discourages collaboration.

    The leadership principle "Are Right, A Lot" is interpreted as meaning that only information which can be neatly fit into a graph is worth knowing. Thus, things that don't fit in a graph, such as intangible improvements to the development process, never receive a budget. There is no official support for your development environment, including the cloud machine you develop on and the software you use to write code.

    If you have a problem, you fall behind and your "productivity" is reduced. Your manager will get very angry with you, and threaten to put you on PIP. If you ask for help, other engineers will slowly start to resent you. It creates a very "wild west" culture complete with the lack of amenities, the aura of distrust of others, the lone cowboy...

    #4 - Lack of Diversity: Walking through the production floor at any building in the Seattle campus one might be stricken with the question: "Where are all the women?" The women who might be willing to work the hours expected of them, under the toxic conditions one finds in the engineering teams, will likely instead be found working as lawyers for triple the pay. Diverse types of people are not found because diverse ideas are not found. Amazon is so confident in the power of it's leadership principles that any dissenting opinions or personality types are ruthlessly cut from the employment pool by "bar raisers." The people who do end up working at Amazon are almost exclusively young men in their 20s, early in their careers, from parts of the world that have high male/female ratios.

    #5 - Poor Work/Life Balance: One consequence of poor code quality and short deadlines is that everything is breaking all the time. And in order to keep the lights on, teams have an On Call rotation. The On Call carries a pager and can be paged in the middle of the night when a metric is out of band. The On Call always looks frazzled at all hours of the day for the week or two that they carry the pager. New employees, who have never written a single service and who are hired to help maintain an old legacy system with poor code quality, can be expected to go On Call after 3 months. The will be paged repeatedly for problems caused by other people, including people who got promotions and long since left the team. In theory, On Call is designed to improve accountability and provide an incentive for engineers to write higher quality code. In practice, it socializes mistakes and therefore reduces code quality.

    There are people who work on the AWS teams work all the time and sleep at the office for just a few hours at night.

    Advice to Management

    Don't put so much faith in the leadership principles. They are being interpreted in ways that contribute to a toxic culture and which reduce code quality and developer productivity.


  10. "Do it to grow and get things done"

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

    Amazing environment to achieve more than you've ever done before amongst amazingly driven people.

    Cons

    It's a place where delivery is valued highly and you will always be stretched to your limits here. This can get tiring.

    Advice to Management

    Keep pushing for quality from your people.


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