Amazon Software engineer Reviews | Glassdoor

Amazon software engineer Reviews

Updated December 8, 2017
1,752 reviews

Filter

Filter

software engineer

1,752 Employee Reviews

Sort: PopularRatingDate

Pros
  • Area Managers learn a lot in their first two years but it is fast paced (in 432 reviews)

  • It really depends on the individual employees to maintain the work-life balance (in 358 reviews)

Cons
  • Work life balance is not easy to maintain (in 2007 reviews)

  • There is nearly no work life balance (in 424 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great place for a workaholic - difficult for someone looking for a life outside of work / hobbies"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Software Engineer
    Former Intern - Software Engineer
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    + They take pride in their work
    + The workload itself isn't unreasonable
    + You will work at a high standard
    + Culture that values input from across the team
    + You will develop leadership skills

    If you are the type looking for fulfillment via work, Amazon is likely a fantastic place for you. You will develop your skills here and be on top of the game, as far as the leadership principles go (not strictly technical).

    Cons

    - They want you to be work obsessed. You will make yourself miserable if you try to avoid this.
    - Onboarding can be rough - I felt like I was supposed to know things that were not ever explained to me in the slightest.
    - Open offices (!!!). It is very hard to work in for anyone who likes to work heads-down. I found myself escaping the room several times just to find somewhere quiet to think for a couple minutes before returning.
    - MacOS as standard dev OS

    It is a culture where everyone is obsessed with work. Therefore, if you are less obsessed than your coworkers, you will have a hard time. I couldn't personally find it satisfying due to the open office nature, since I enjoy heads-down work and the technical aspect of Software Engineering. I am also a person who enjoys projects and hobbies, and Amazon seems to be too much of a mental drain to have energy left over for that. If you try, you will likely make yourself miserable at work.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Intense workplace with lots of difficult technical challenges"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Amazon's set of technical challenges are unique to just a handful of companies. Thanks to the high hiring bar, you'll truly find yourself working with some of the smartest individuals you'll ever meet. You will be given opportunities to grow your skill set, and your career, and even if you choose to leave the company, you will find your experience in very high demand with other employers in the area.

    Teams generally run themselves independently - this includes defining projects, their priorities, and technical decisions. In that sense, it would be accurate to think of Amazon as a collection of loosely affiliated startups, which sometime overlap in scope, with a shared goal of doing right by our customers.

    Cons

    All the cons associated with working at Amazon ultimately tie back to our leadership principle of Frugality. The company simply doesn't care about the wellbeing of its employees, even if it results in hurting overall productivity and morale.

    Computer equipment is the first example: while the company has improved somewhat over the years in terms of giving engineers a choice between a Mac and a PC, as well as the right to having two monitors, employees still don't have any say in truly choosing the equipment that will make them successful (don't expect to receive a yearly hardware budget like what other tech companies offer). Need a standup desk? Not until you complete multiple ergonomic assessments with months-long waitlists before seeing a specialist. Many will counter that you have the option to get around company policies by expensing the equipment you need through your manager, but this unfortunately turns into a case-by-case situation, and a manager facing budget pressures may be less willing to accommodate employees in this way.

    Space is another example: while company policies claim that corporate employees are entitled to a cubicle or shared office, the reality is that almost every individual contributor works in a high-density environment where co-workers are seated incredibly close to one another. To compensate for the noise and distractions associated with this setup, the company provides a DISCOUNT on Bose headphones, which some employees take advantage of. Though we are told that the space issues are caused by Amazon's fast pace of hiring, the problem has been getting worse for the last several years, and most new buildings that come up in Seattle don't even bother installing a reasonable number of offices and cubicles, opting instead for completely open space seating with minimal numbers of low partitions between team areas. Amazon also fails to provide free parking to its employees, though it is possible to get on a year-long waiting list for paid monthly parking, which recently increased in price to $150/month.

    The last example is compensation. Base salaries at Amazon are incredibly low when compared to the rest of the tech industry. No one in the company makes more than $170K per year in base salary, with most engineers receiving from $100K to $150K. To be fair, the company does provide RSUs, which have a vesting period of 2 years. What has been frustrating about being paid mostly in RSUs is that the shares you take home one year are really the result of your performance review from 2 years prior, that they are not liquid due to the requirement that employees only trade these securities during short quarterly windows, and that their value is entirely dependent on investors' perceived worth of the company. Recently, Amazon shares have been skyrocketing in value, and as such, employees have been cashing in more income than the company previously predicted. Instead of being happy about this, Amazon has been shrinking the number of RSUs being rewarded to high performing employees during their annual reviews, to the point where the dollar amount (not just # of shares) associated with grants is lower every year after the next, even when employees get promoted. Managers have been very well trained to explain that the company is predicting a higher rate of growth than in previous years and that overall compensation is still expected to rise. Though I have certainly benefited from RSUs vesting at higher target prices over the years, I also realize that this pattern is not sustainable; just like any other company, our stock price is not guaranteed to see double-digit growth every year for the rest of eternity, and something will need to be done to prevent an exodus if share prices begin to drop and employees find themselves with reduced compensation compared to previous years.

    Advice to Management

    Making an investment in working conditions and giving employees a small budget to choose the right equipment would go a long way towards improving morale and productivity. The space situation is especially frustrating with current policies being blatantly ignored across the management chains resulting in most employees working in very high density environments.

    Though Amazon's compensation scheme has worked well so far, the company needs to recognize the risk of an exodus when share prices drop (or even fail to increase to the predicted levels) - the bottom line is that employees will start to leave if their W2 wages drop from one year to the next - the company should be proactive about preventing such a situation from happening.

  3. "It depends on the team"

    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 (Less than a year)

    Pros

    This is absolutely the best team I have ever been part of in my career. I love working with these people. And the projects are interesting too. :)

    BUT it really depends on the team at Amazon, I hear horror stories from other people, and it is kind of hard to believe I work at the same company sometimes. :)

    That being said I do feel very appreciated working here. The regular events are pretty amazing. Bring your parent to work day was probably my favorite so far. :)

    - good pay
    - decent benefits
    - nice work environment
    - flexible work hours and WFH arrangement
    - work life balance
    - my colleagues
    - great managers
    - adjustable standing desks
    - nice portable laptops (even if I'm not a mac fan. :D)
    - good tools and build system that are constantly being improved
    - leadership principles
    - customer obession
    - clear career and promotion process
    - mentoring program
    - learning talks

    Cons

    - health benefits could be a bit better, but I'm just used to better health care in my home country. ;)
    - sometimes people in Seattle are a bit angry at Amazon...
    - I've had slightly better 401k matching at other companies before.
    - time off can be a bit short at the start, but normal for the US.


  4. "SDE Intern with AWS"

    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
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Amazon as an intern

    Pros

    Get to work on your individually owned, full-fledged project.
    Hand-on learning of the SDLC.
    Watch your code ship to prod and hence, being used in real-world.
    Code-Reviews help improve on your coding skills.

    Cons

    Amazon has a very complex development environment which requires a lot of time to be understood and hence used in the best way.
    Code reviews make the process very slow and even cause you be unproductive for some days. But, probably only interns face this.
    Your speed and rate of delivery might depend a lot on your team-mates. A smaller team can mean delayed processes.


  5. "Fast paced and enjoyable"

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

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

    Pros

    - responsibilities are given
    - fast paced
    - intelligent people to work with
    - work-life balance is good so far

    Cons

    - things shuffle around
    - back to back releases causing last minute patching


  6. "Software Engineer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Lots of challenging problems
    - Smart, driven people
    - Collaborative environment

    Cons

    - Work life balance
    - No perks like big companies


  7. "Great challenges and fun to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Hyderabad (India)
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Hyderabad (India)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    * Good work-life balance, which ironically amazon is not famous for.
    * Good compensation.

    Cons

    * Very corporate feel.
    * Often get offloaded work from Seattle, but depends on the team.
    * Doesn't feel as if you are working on something which will have huge impact until you are lucky enough to get awesome project

    Advice to Management

    Make the office a bit more fun to work in, This will cost nothing to you but would increase employee productivity alot.

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Stay Away"

    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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    - COMPENSATION IS OK (not great) - Even with the high stock price there are plenty of other tech companies that offer higher compensation. This is partially because of the stock vesting schedule (5/15/40/40).
    - RESUME BOOSTER - I am applying to other companies and my callback rate is > 75%
    - AWS AS YOUR PLAYGROUND - This can be a good learning experience. It definitely is awesome not being limited by cost and having internal tools that help you setup an AWS account for your new service relatively quickly.
    - DECENT LOCATION NEAR DOWNTOWN SEATTLE - I am as critical as Seattle as any transplant but 2 years later, it is home and I can appreciate being close to the shopping, food, and entertainment nearby.
    - OPPORTUNITIES TO TRY OUT DIFFERENT DOMESTIC/INTERNATIONAL OFFICES

    Cons

    - WORK-LIFE BALANCE IS ABYSMAL - It is normal to see various SDM's/TPM's sending out emails on the weekends. During a month long stretch it was normal for another SDE and myself on the same project staying till 8PM at the earliest and staying online till midnight. And even if we were the only two in the office, or it was a normal work week with no deadlines coming up, it was normal to see other engineers/managers on Chime that late anyways.

    - PAINFUL TRANSFERRING PROCESS - Let's say enough is enough and you try to move to a different team. This new team will have access to your code reviews/commits which is a true gauge of your work, but some still decide that they need to give you formal interviews. In fact, some will have 22 year olds conducting these "formal" interviews that are not formal in the slightest. They will do things that would not fly in any external formal interview like not stating the question correctly... not booking a room for the interview... being 15 minutes late for the interview... asking where you're from which is a HUGE HR no-no. This is the interview experience you get when the only thing you need to be qualified for an interview is attending 2 interview sessions.

    Also, despite the fact that you guys are technically coworkers and should stay professional, and despite the fact that sometimes you are down the hall from each other and see each other every day, you will be ghosted by certain hiring managers during the transfer process even if he/she showed signs of interest before, so you are left on your bad team trying to find a better team, with no professional guidance/correspondence from your prospective team and are forced to find a different team.

    I have also seen employees been put on a PIP on one team, only to excel on their new team which goes to show that one size does not fit all. However, the new promotion process requires a sign-off to transfer, which you can see would lead to more politics on blocking the transfer, which is morbidly ironic if one of the reasons you're leaving in the first place is politics.

    - HIGH TURNOVER - Good luck figuring out that service with no documentation because it was written by someone who was in the same boat as you of trying to figure out a service that someone who left for greener pastures wrote a long time ago. You know turnover is bad when your team that had 5 devs and 2 PM's leave within 1.5 years was the team with the LEAST turnover in your time at Amazon.

    - TOO MANY NEW GRADS - You just got an offer from Amazon out of college right? You're on top of the world and feel like you're the smartest person in the room right? Of course you're going to take it, you're from flyover country and six figures is a lot of money, right? Well thousands of other new grads across the country thought the same thing and are going to start at the same time as you.

    Amazon is expanding rapidly and so Amazon needs hungry grads. As a new grad, it's luck of the draw for what team you end up on, so if you're lucky you'll get a manager that realizes there needs to be a healthy ratio of experienced SDE2/3's and SDE1's. But chances are you'll end up with a manager who just wants to throw headcount at everything to build an empire, or is just part of a bad team that no seasoned dev wants to join so they need any body they can get, and you end up on a team with one recently joined SDE2 and five SDE1's. This is not a great environment with which to start your career since you won't have ideal mentoring.

    Moreover, there is already a huge lack of professionalism in tech, but this exacerbated when the average age is so young and you have to remind your younger peers that the Chime team room is not a place for profanities or inappropriate jokes.

    - HIGHLY DIVERSE YET HIGHLY SEGREGATED - This is not specific to Amazon and is somewhat of a problem in tech in general, but Amazon is still guilty of this. Amazon employs thousands of employees from different countries. While diversity is a good thing and I have learned a lot about different countries from teammates, this still leads to a lot of segregation in that you'll see people walking only walking around SLU within their own ethnic group speaking in their native language. This is not a problem in and of itself, of course you want to socialize with people like yourself, but it translates to politics in the workforce and it is not uncommon for you to see managers with only people from their ethnic group as reports. If you have any friends who are underrepresented minorities at Amazon, you will probably hear some stories, e.g. how a female friend is treated by certain ethnic groups with negative views of women, or another friend of an underrepresented ethnic group being mistaken for a janitor despite being a high-performing SDE, or just general backwards thinking that only caucasian people can be American and everyone else is from their country of ethnic origin. Note that not everybody contributes to this issue and I am for diversity, but from some bad apples it is significant enough of a problem to be worth mentioning.

    - POLITICS - I've seen managers with abysmal tech survey results, zero trust from their business customers or their engineers, managers who systematically prevent their SDE's from promoting so they can't leave (or put them on a Performance Improvement Plan if they try to anyway) and zero proof that they have any idea of what's going on... Get promoted within a year or two just because they were in that position long enough, or they kissed their manager's butt the right way, or even just get promoted so they can move to another org and stop being a toxic factor in the current org... Which is not how meritocracy should work.

    - INCONSISTENT PROMOTION BAR - Unfortunately the new promo doc was supposed to make things more decoupled from managers and give more power to the engineers to drive things. Unfortunately it is still very coupled to the manager/skip manager/org. I have seen SDE's get promoted a year out of college doing nothing but ops and bug fixes, with maybe a single project to pad the resume. I have seen industry hires with 10 years XP not being able to reach SDE2 despite leading brand new initiatives from scratch, raising the bar, and occasionally working at an SDE3 level (only for some to leave to more prestigious companies like Google/Facebook). I have seen managers who have promoted engineers on work they have only done on their prior team; I have also seen managers who are not willing to acknowledge what the engineer did on their prior team, essentially making it all for naught and forcing the SDE to jump more hoops in their current team and give the engineer less time to get promoted before they get fired.

    - OVERALL TOXIC CULTURE I went from being a bright-eyed, youthful, optimistic college grad hungry to utilize his newfound skills and contribute to the world... to a jaded 24 year old who is afraid to wake up every morning and go to work. I have attempted antidepressants as a formality, but the only antidepressant that works is taking time off work. It is not just myself that has changed but I have also seen friends go from happy young kids to shells of what they used to be. Joining Amazon with them has felt like the hunger games where even if you win, you're still part of a game that shouldn't be played in the first place and you've lost so much on the way there. So while a few of my friends have gotten promoted in under a year and a half, they had to work 80 hour weeks and deal with high ops and persona sacrifices to get there.

    I have had managers chime me on my PTO days.

    I have had a manager tell me to be more like the guy that stays up till midnight every night.

    I have had a manager call me to chew me out on whether I am really working from home (when I am literally on the VPN checking emails)

    I have had a manager call me when I'm at home extremely ill on antibiotics, skeptically questioning why my antibiotics are taking so long to be effective (because I'm in control of how long they should take), and skeptically questioning if I am really that sick, so I can come back to work and get stuff done.

    I have had managers assign deadlines to do a project in a month that would take 3 developers 3 months to complete, then refuse to acknowledge and push back the deadline when I state that I cannot finish the task by the deadline in 2 weeks.

    I have had managers attempt to put other engineers on a PIP not because they deserved it, but because they questioned the current manager, only for the engineer to leave and excel at their new role and be promoted.

    I have had a manager remind me that I only have a few years to get a promotion before Amazon fires me, while also giving me scraps that does not help me with my promotion document. Imagine being between a rock and a hard place where you need to get promoted or you're fired, but don't have the work/means to get promoted.

    Overall, I would stay away from Amazon unless you are 110% sure you are ending up on the very few teams where you can grow as an engineer with minimal politics.

    Advice to Management

    - Listen to your engineers for deadlines.
    - Foster a positive learning environment; have a healthy senior/junior SDE ratio.
    - Listen to the tech survey results.
    - Skip managers, have monthly meetings with your skip(?) reports as you might be the only one who can listen to complaints about their direct manager who can make a difference.
    - Your reports are real people with real careers; care about that. Most cities that Amazon operates in is expensive; money matters. If you don't think the SDE deserves the promotion to get the compensation raise, give your employee a clear path on how to get there, and work that fulfills this path.


  9. "Great Internship"

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

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

    Pros

    - interns are trusted and have the opportunity to work on production code
    - lots of events
    - smart and humble people

    Cons

    - not really thinking about one now


  10. "The best company I worked in so far"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Dublin, Co. Dublin (Ireland)
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Dublin, Co. Dublin (Ireland)
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    You will work with very smart people here. I've faced almost no bureaucracy which is surprising for such a big company. High-load, high-availability projects. Opportunity to relocate around the world and Amazon helps with it.

    Cons

    Mandatory on call rotations which means some times you can be phoned when you are on call.


Showing 1,752 of 19,850 reviews
Reset Filters