Amazon Software Development Engineer II Reviews | Glassdoor

Amazon Software Development Engineer II Reviews

Updated September 19, 2018
320 reviews

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Software Development Engineer II

4.1
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Amazon Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
247 Ratings

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Pros
Cons
  • "Work/life balance seems comparable to other places I've worked - not worse" (in 2384 reviews)

  • "I have no work life balance issues" (in 497 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Upward move for my career"

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

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

    Pros

    Amazing work (comiXology)
    Awesome Work Location (Times Square NYC)
    High Base Salary
    Large Signing Bonus Year 1
    Large Signing Bonus Year 2
    RSU's of Amazon
    401K Matching

    Cons

    You need to adapt to the Amazon way and throw away a lot of conventional wisdom, which feels a bit abnormal at first
    401k takes 3 years to vest

    Advice to Management

    Thus far things seem to be managed very well at Amazon


  2. Helpful (7)

    "This review is freely given in return.. for nothing provided by the company in question."

    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've had great management throughout my career here. I feel that my management does a good job at setting me up to get promoted( nothing yet though.. but it looks promising), as well as being supported when I've had problems to work around ( both personal and professional). I've had my opinions respected and given the option of what projects I want to work on. It's been a continual process of learning new skills and technologies, as well as learning more about effective writing and personal skills. I don't feel overworked and my management has never told me that they feel I need to work more. There are a lot of opportunities to grow and learn new things. If you get tired of your team or your job and you want to try something else, cross team transfers happen reasonably often, and I've seen co-workers try out the management track and succeed, or decide it's not for them and move back to tech.

    Despite being a larger company, there is a lot less bureaucracy than you would expect. You need a small number of machines to test something, typically approval is automatic. ( as you need more bureaucracy creeps back in with budgets and hardware planning).

    Promotion's are progressively becoming a show x skills/abilities, get to next level , as opposed to a more get x people to vouch for you process, at least at the lower levels, which makes it fairly clear on what you need to work on to get promoted.

    There is always a new shiny thing being rolled out to make service development better ( faster, cheaper , more operationally stable), but it also takes time to ramp up on it.

    Cons

    Constant learning is occasionally stressful.

    You are surrounded by very competent smart people and if you focus too much on judging yourself against them, instead of just focusing on how you can learn and grow, It's easy to feel inadequate.

    It's easy to feel like you can't take break to watch some internal educational videos and learn new things. But you just have to consciously make time for such things.

    Now that I've been here long enough,my vests aren't granted as far into the future, so even if the stock keeps on growing, I'm not going to earn as much from the vests unless I hold onto them :(.

    The OP1/OP2 planning process has meant in the past that if you want to get something done that's non trivial and it's not on a teams roadmap, unless you can justify that it's more important that what they are doing, it can take a while ( next planning cycle + when planned in that cycle).

    So much of internal tech is using AWS that If I ever left amazon, I'd probably be best suited to be an AWS consultant.

    Advice to Management

    I would suggest encouraging employees to take advantage of the internal learning opportunites.

  3. "Nerds solving problems"

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

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

    Pros

    Strong talent; Big dreams; Supportive teammates

    Cons

    Hard to institute change unless you are working on a leaf team


  4. Helpful (4)

    "Disorganized Mess"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend

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

    Pros

    Smart, driven coworkers
    Minimal corporate b.s.
    Solve real scaling problems.
    Good pay.

    Cons

    Everything is always on fire.
    There is absolutely no quality control.
    There is no real management.
    You will not have time to write actual software.
    There are a large number of checked out, incompetent or otherwise harmful senior devs camping on stock bonuses.
    If you want it done right, you will have to do it yourself to the tune of 80+ hours a week.

    Advice to Management

    Fire people aggressively if they aren't doing their jobs. If you don't have the data to do that, hire more managers. The ratio of managers (in all positions) to devs should be much higher than 1:10


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Not everyone's cup of tea"

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

    I worked at Amazon full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    interesting problem spaces, dynamic environment, excellent focus on customers

    Cons

    aggressive environment, bad work-life balance


  6. "It's a big company."

    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 a year)

    Pros

    I really like the people I work with. It's a bunch of college grads that are new to the city, so we go bowling every week, sometimes skiing during the weekends, and have a ps4 in our team area where we would sometimes take breaks.
    In terms of work, we all cooperate, and nobody works alone. If there is a guy left behind, there is always a mentor who helps.
    You also get paid a lot more than it looks like based on your stock.

    Thought I should give a positive review out since I like my job.

    Cons

    Being in a big company means you may not have the same experience as I do.
    Being in a big company also means you are more tied into business decisions from management rather than your own software decisions.

    Advice to Management

    Protect us from upper management requirements?


  7. "Great place to work. Fast moving."

    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
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Fast pace working environment. Work on latest new technologies. Many different fields are available to find work in. Provide great working environment.

    Cons

    Need to work under pressure for match up with the fast pace working environment. No finance provided for further studies like MBA etc.

    Advice to Management

    Provide break and encourage to further study. (MBA etc.)

  8. "Great company 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

    Latest technologies and cutting edge projects
    Amazon really cares about security
    Great compensation
    Managers are often very flexible with time off
    Managers listen to senior engineers (and junior too for the most part)
    Everyone is super nice
    Switching teams is very easy and encouraged

    Cons

    On call sucks for the most part (but that depends on the team)
    Some periods are more stressful than others
    Some products are sub-par. But in that case you can just switch teams!
    People leave all the time (mostly moving internally)

    Advice to Management

    Work on retaining employees. A lot of good work has been done in the past years, but we're still not there yet.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to start your career but not for everyone"

    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 a year)

    Pros

    1. You meet a lot of super smart and hard-working people here. You'll become a competent coder, designer, and architect in no time. Engineers are usually nice and willing to help.
    2. The pay is great especially if it is your first full-time job.
    3. You can work from home if you do not have any meetings scheduled.
    4. Because the work you do is usually very challenging, you develop a genuine camaraderie with your teammates.
    5. Amazon is a great resume booster. You can go anywhere you'd like after working here.

    Cons

    1. Ridiculous amount of pressure. It's definitely not for everyone.
    2. Depending on your luck, you may have to work with a product manager that loves to micro-manage. They ask for target completion dates, and proceed to track your progress on a daily basis. It can get very suffocating from time to time.
    3. The downside of having a tight deadline is that you do not get that much opportunity to experiment with new technologies. Oftentimes you need to stick with the safer, less innovative approach.
    4. There are not enough dev resources to carry out the vision of the management team. As a result, everyone puts in insane numbers of hours each week. Don't be surprised if you find yourself working 60 to 80 hours a week. If your teammates do it, you'll have to do it. Otherwise, you'll be considered an underperformer.
    5. Perks are not as good as Facebook or Google. There's no free food or free drinks here.

    Advice to Management

    Amazon is growing at a tremendous pace no doubt. Perks like free food and drinks are now super common among tech giants. We don't mind working hard but if you'd like us to work hard and be happy, please also take care of your engineers. I've been with the company for 2 years and still do not understand why we have to track the deadline of each and every project down to the day.


  10. Helpful (6)

    "Mixed Bag."

    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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    1. Great pay - I've only seen 2 companies (Google & FB) in Seattle offer more than my current total compensation, and while some in the Bay Area do, it's not more after adjusting for cost of living.
    2. Part of an exciting company
    3. Fast-paced
    4. Hands-on experience with massively scaled software.
    5. Very laid back about working from home (although this varies from team to team)
    6. Objective, merit-based analysis for promotions. Not much office politics or nepotism in my org (caveat: I've heard very different things from other orgs)
    7. Good hardware. This was not the case at all before 2015 or 2016. Now almost every dev. has a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro, at least 1 EC2 instance, and an ultrawide monitor (or 2 regular monitors).

    Cons

    1. If you are a new grad hire, they may place you on a team that has nothing to do with your interests or what org you were told you would work for when you accepted the offer. Even if you have 0 experience in that area. I've heard this from at least 10 people. It seems to be common.
    2. Extremely high operational load, especially in Retail.
    3. "Fail fast" approach and unrealistic deadlines have lead to shortcuts being taken, widespread tech debt, and a very serious retention problem. Even the engineers that stay at Amazon switch teams every 2-3 years.
    4. Hardly anything is documented (including widely-used services and tooling). Building almost anything requires constantly engaging other teams, who are often unresponsive or unhelpful. Tribal knowledge is lost when people leave the team (in my first year, 80% of the 20 engineers on my team left - and this is not uncommon). Imagine that you have to write an app using a web framework (AngularJS, as an example) that you aren't familiar with and you must call 5 services with undocumented APIs. You aren't allowed to use any documentation at all, or refer to any books on AngularJS. You do have an IDE, and can contact the creators of the services you need to use. This is exactly what it is like developing at Amazon. It takes the fun out of it entirely, and makes building anything much harder than it should be (compared to using off-the-shelf tools/libraries and documented APIs). Amazon has been lauded for adopting a Service-oriented architecture; what isn't mentioned is that none of the services are documented, even though they have (usually multiple) clients.
    5. Culture is very cult-like.
    6. The company highly values fresh-out-of-college hires. They believe that potential is everything. In software engineering, though, experience can be incredibly important, too. I suspect they prefer college hires because it is much easier to get them to overwork, and they are less likely to have families. College teaches data structures & algorithms, but not software best practices. Code quality is often very poor.
    7. The work is challenging only due to the complexity of figuring out what is undocumented, interfacing with other teams, etc., not the actual coding part.
    8. Very difficult to change any entrenched practice, even if it can be demonstrated to be ineffective and better alternatives are available.
    9. Management is typically very short-sighted. Schedules are determined by when higher-level mgmt wants a project to be completed, and all projects must be completed by the end of the current calendar year. Usually there is little to no input from the actual engineers. All that matters is if the code meets the goal or not, with little if any consideration on whether it is a ticking time-bomb that will be unreliable and require frequent maintenance. Most code at Amazon is not robust, and requires 24/7 oncall coverage for frequent breakages.

    Advice to Management

    Change engineering culture to value high-quality software. Hire more people rather than expecting to get so much out of so few. Coding is fun - people do it for free, they do it after work in their free time, etc. Just remove all the things that take the fun out of it. Reduce operational load by hiring dedicated Site Reliability/Support Engineers and give developers the time to create quality solutions and document their services. I am 100% certain that the current approach is at least 2-3 times more costly in the long-term (>= 1.5 years) than if more time was given during the development and testing phase.