Amazon Software Development Engineer Reviews | Glassdoor

Amazon Software Development Engineer Reviews

Updated June 20, 2018
1,533 reviews

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Software Development Engineer

4.1
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Amazon Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
1,035 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • "Work/life balance seems comparable to other places I've worked - not worse" (in 2287 reviews)

  • "No work life - personal life balance" (in 472 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great Internship!"

    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

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

    Pros

    Great team members, were patient with me
    Work-life balance was very good for the team I was at

    Cons

    Not much, but I was really tired of eating Indian food every time for catering.


  2. "A great company to intern for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Software Development Engineer Intern in San Luis Obispo, CA
    Current Intern - Software Development Engineer Intern in San Luis Obispo, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon as an intern (More than a year)

    Pros

    The Amazon office in San Luis Obispo, CA has a fantastic intern program which allows students at the nearby California Polytechnic State University to work part time and gain invaluable real-world experience while earning their degree. The position gives interns real tasks which actually benefit the business and allow them to grow rather than 'menial' or meaningless work. Whereas most internship positions for Comp Sci/Software Dev target students in their third year or later, this position targets students who are in their second or even first years, and is structured to allow the intern to grow in effectiveness and responsibility as they complete more classes and gain more experience. After the first summer, during which interns transition to work full time until school starts again, most interns have enough experience to be treated simply as a part-time version of the regular starting software development role, able to tackle the same tasks as any member of a team, albeit at a slower pace due to less working hours. Additionally, interns who stay for a second summer are offered the opportunity to work for Amazon in another location (usually Seattle) for the duration of the summer. This is a great opportunity for interns to explore other opportunities within the company and experience living in a new location.

    Cons

    Working part-time while going to school is a big commitment, no matter the employer. However, Amazon is very flexible with scheduling and always allow you to prioritize school over work.

  3. "Limitless growth and opportunity available"

    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

    The amount of ambition internally here is striking. Amazon is not afraid of having long term vision and taking huge bets.

    You have a lot of responsibility, but with it comes a tremendous amount of opportunity and ownership.

    Cons

    Amazon is a massive, complex company with a lot of parallel initiatives. With that there's a ton of information to absorb, which can be pretty overwhelming for new hires.


  4. "Software Development Engineer (SDE) Intern"

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

    I have been working at Amazon as an intern (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Relaxed Uniform, Great Pay, Community Involvement, Bleeding Edge Technology, Continuous Learning Opportunities make Amazon very friendly towards interns

    Cons

    Very large company if that's not your thing

    Advice to Management

    Keep Bezos at the helm... he has an awesome vision


  5. "Well rounded engineering experience"

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

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

    Pros

    I believe working for Amazon has made me a better engineer. There is a lot of wisdom in decision making processes and business practices guided by the companies leadership principles, which are actually used on a daily basis and not just a poster on the wall. The focus on operations and customer value are something I had not experience in past roles. I can see myself retiring in Amazon, but even if I leave, I think my experience here would help me significantly in thriving elsewhere.

    Cons

    Frugality is one of the leadership principles, so some folks could be disappointed by the lack of some perks offered by other leading companies e.g. good catering, business class travel, conference attendance, etc.

    Advice to Management

    Keep it up, but don't forget to leave time to taste the coffee.


  6. "AWS CloudFormation"

    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

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

    Pros

    You will get chances to know every AWS resource.
    Great distributed system.
    Engineers are very friendly, talented and hardworking here.

    Cons

    Work life balance sucks.
    CFN team management is (one of) the worst in AWS, with little employee benefit and super slow promotion track.
    Management layer is so over powered that opinions from engineers cannot be heard or respected enough (to some extent).

    Advice to Management

    Keep hiring new employees will not stop people from leaving. Figure your problems out.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Office can be a ballpark or living hell or up to your manager and his/her managers"

    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
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Freedom to choose projects to work on as well as move between teams
    - Great colleagues, smart people (again this one depends on the team you're on, but collectively speaking, you get more chance of working with smart people than idiots here.)

    Cons

    Leadership can change their minds and roadmaps like people change their clothes everyday.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Excellent company to work for (if you get the right team)"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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

    Team autonomy , work-life balance, salary, benefits

    Cons

    Experience will vary depending on the team you work with


  9. Helpful (19)

    "A place where builders can build… against all odds"

    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
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    * Smart people, if you choose the right team. So don't go by "sexy" tech, just a good manager, good engineers and good business team.

    * Decent pay. Less than other big companies, but more than smaller ones, especially considering the stock part (you have to be patient to get it)

    * Interesting technology. The scale of the systems is astonishing, and the design patterns and practices for distributed systems an engineer can learn are invaluable. But don't expect it on the lower levels of the software (see cons).

    * There are opportunities to learn business side of things, soft skills etc, if you are up for it and have a good team. You kind of need to understand the business and the customer to be competent in what you are building. Less so for tech stuff (see cons)

    Cons

    * Software Development Managers are hit and miss. Only some people are truly great and iconic (I am lucky to work for one, but that's last 3 years out of 7). Amazon figured out how to hire engineers well, but they seem to not do such a good job with managers. They do get the training, so over time some get better. If they want to.

    * Despite the number of truly smart engineers and hackers in the best sense of the word, there are a lot of folks who got CS degree & basic experience but require oversight, mentoring and time to grow. This ratio is not favorable for more experienced SDE2/3 engineers (there are teams who are exceptions to this).

    * Business management is hit or miss. Predominantly male and bro (I am male too), often falling into alpha-male mode of decision making, occasionally attracting poor actors who throw an entire organization into a doomsday project for a couple of years, claim the delivery, get their bonus, and then move to, say, AWS with no consequences when the product quietly flops and dies 1-2 years later.

    Don't get me wrong, I understand the idea of "failing fast" and trying new things, but it pains me to see when potentially good ideas are implemented haphazardly, without proper UX upfront work, without talking to prospective end customers, using a ton of cowboy coders and poor design (both UX and technical). Sometimes Amazon gets so lucky that the customers like their product despite the poor initial quality, giving the company enough time to improve it. It shows from the customer perspective, Amazon seems to be perpetually in the niche of "this is not Apple, but convenient enough for me to use it until somebody else makes a better version of this product".

    * Software is pretty poor on the low level. There are a few brilliantly designed systems, but the rest is a mess of startup-like code, half of which is deprecated and is written to meet short term business goals. SOA architecture but interactions between services are not thought through. Not many engineers know the big picture from tech and business standpoint. There is a constant pressure on the business (which directly translates to engineers) to take shortcuts and ship fast, because everyone else does.

    To give credit to Amazon, they tend to go through multi-year phases of chaotic expanding and then cleaning up, but it comes at the cost of engineers surviving through supporting (oncall) the crappy systems and having no resources (or knowledge) to fix them after the business finally says "ok, now we are truly losing money and people on this, let's fix it up please?"

    I am oncall this week and I was up till 5AM fixing things on Saturday night, only to hit the wall when another system didn't do what I expected. Neither of 3 other people from other related systems and respective support teams which I contacted knew which action need to be taken and whose system should be responsible for fixing the issue. As I said, in my experience only few engineers have deep understanding of the systems they own. The rest are struggling with crappy code, poor/no documentation (Amazon SDE/SDMs are kind of perversely proud of not documenting things) and passing the buck until they hit the person who knows the answer expected from them.

    * Lots of internal software which is built poorly where an open-source system would be better. "Not invented here" syndrome. There is no excuse for that, because improving / scaling up the open-source systems would be less costly than building poor internal clones. And better for the rest of the world.

    Bottom line - if you come to work here, you need to have integrity as an SDE or SDM. You need to be a self-starter and probably a bit workaholic. You need to be opinionated and confident enough to voice concerns and propose ideas, but also a good listener and open to ideas of others. You need to own your projects and be willing to drive them, be the squeaky wheel and demand that things are done in a long-term sustainable way. If you get a good and supportive manager, and smart business people, you will make things better. If you are an experienced engineer and plan on only following what you are told to do by your boss, please go somewhere else.

    If you are a beginner SDE - you will learn, but be prepared to take ownership for advancing your career, putting extra time outside of work to learn new things and not rely on your manager for it (because chances are, your manager won't do it very well).

    Be prepared to understand the agreements you sign, especially the part which says that Amazon can claim anything you code, design or ideate, even outside of workplace.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in UX designers and processes and you will save a lot of pain to your customers. Any product I use - Alexa app, Amazon mobile app, retail website has a constant trail of sub-par quality and problems, which should be glaringly obvious to a good UX and IX designer. Create mechanisms to ensure your business PMs utilize market and UX research more, before spending money on building random ideas and seeing what sticks. Focus more on internationalization of the product catalog, supporting long-tail items and accessibility of the website and apps.

    Raise the hiring bar on SDMs or provide them training and time to become better. Keep the team sizes small, with team areas of responsibility clearly defined. Make SDM university or something, just don't drop them into work unprepared - it really kills their subordinates' experience.

    Fix incentives for business teams to think short-term: "how to we grow our business X% next year". Create incentives to invest enough in the long-term initiatives, take risks, but make them know and use the UX talent for goodness sake.

    You waste a ton of money due to: open seating and "high density seating", lack of meeting rooms (esp. dedicated ones), poor conferencing tools, using Outlook and a naive expectation that every employee will do a good job re-inventing a system of self-time management.

    Oh yeah, and fix the 401k problems.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Software Development Engineer Intern"

    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
    Neutral Outlook

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

    Pros

    Interesting project, smart coworkers and lots of things to learn. Opportunity to gain insight into one of the largest and most used cloud computing systems in the world.

    Cons

    Benefits are a bit stingy, office is cramped and work environment is generally sub par compared to other tech companies.

    Bad work life balance.

    Advice to Management

    Spend more money on investing in your employees. Food, welfare, anything. Stop hoarding the money to yourselves.