Amazon Software Development Engineer Reviews | Glassdoor

Amazon Software Development Engineer Reviews

Updated April 23, 2017
1,238 reviews

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Software Development Engineer

3.7
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Amazon Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
810 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Learn a lot of things and good working environment (in 335 reviews)

  • There are a lot of smart people in aws (in 753 reviews)

Cons
  • Work life balance is a challenge (in 1487 reviews)

  • No work life balance around the holidays (in 317 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (381)

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

    Star Star Star Star Star
    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. "Very good"

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

    I worked at Amazon as an intern

    Pros

    Money, work is based on research. You've choice on design. I like the way the project starts. You give requirements and the whole team critics and gives feedback. Then you work on second draft.

    Cons

    You're expected to work a lot to land a full time through internship. I took it a little easy. But was expecting a full time job as my final presentation was good and I almost completed my project. But I think first impression matters

    Advice to Management

    It's good. I don't really have an opinion. As I feel mistake was on my side. They had already clarified that They are expecting more.


  3. "Work hard, Have Fun, Make History"

    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

    Good challenges, Interesting work, lot of opportunities to choose from

    Cons

    Pressure, not a con if you know how to handle it well!


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  5. Helpful (1)

    "Intern review"

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

    I worked at Amazon (Less than a year)

    Pros

    big company and great works to do

    Cons

    Too busy during on call in some groups

    Advice to Management

    Great team working and management


  6. "Good to work at Amazon"

    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 (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Things change fast, you always have lots of new things to learn and grows fast.

    Cons

    Big company, sometimes it wastes time on communicating.


  7. "Senior Software Development 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 5 years)

    Pros

    Big opportunities, work satisfaction, immediate realization of customer impact, big ROI for the hard work and big impact. Always fun to work on any project.

    Cons

    Operations load and resource crunch can sometimes affect the productivity and slow down innovation.


  8. "Senior Manager, Software Development"

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

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

    Pros

    Amazing place to learn, accelerate your growth as an engineer or leader, and to build products that are used by thousands of customers.

    Cons

    Can be very fast paced and swallow up new hires before they even learn to be effective. Really take time to figure out the one or two areas to focus early on, then extend and expand as you are ready to take on more.


  9. "Good company"

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

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

    Pros

    Happy with work life and personal life balance.

    Cons

    Increments are not as similar as companies profits.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Very Fortunate To Work Here but Could Do Better"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer II in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer II in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Decent benefits for a tech company including good health care and commuter benefits
    - Fast and innovative projects
    - Great opportunities to own projects on multiple levels
    - Decent career growth

    Cons

    - Women typically make less than men
    - Knowledge of certain systems and seniority are valued higher than treating people with respect (as in someone can call your ideas stupid or you ignorant as long as their justification behind it is fine)
    - Subpar benefits compared to other big name companies

    Advice to Management

    - Give women and men similar salaries - as in don't give women higher projects and more work and then pay her less than her male coworkers
    - Provide equal opportunities to deserving employees


  11. "I enjoyed my internship at Amazon"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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 (Less than a year)

    Pros

    I was a bit worried before joining Amazon since I have read that NYT article too. However, when I went there, I find it was nothing like NYT says. The work environment was nice. People were friendly and helpful. Working overtime can happen (just like any tech company I believe), but it's never a routine.

    The work is fast pace and exciting. Also, there are many opportunities to learn and grow. Friday Learning Series talks and Principles of Amazon (given by principle engineers) are my favorites.

    Cons

    No free food like some other tech companies.
    Oncall for full-time engineers can affect work-life balance a bit (interns don't have oncall though).