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Ask HN: Is working at Amazon worth it?
24 points by great_psy 54 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments
I got an offer from Amazon, and I am trying to decide if moving to a FAANG is a good idea.

It would be my second job out of school. My current one is a no name company that pays 50-60th percentile. But, it’s not that stressful, I’m fast I would characterize it as pretty chill.

Amazon offer, would almost double my salary, and I don’t have to explain to anyone what Amazon does. Seems like a no brainer, but I have heard some pretty bad things about Amazon, their PIP program and so on, Blind is full of the stories.

So, is it worth moving from a relaxed position to something much more intense ? Will it pay in the long run having Amazon on my resume even if I get PIPed or leave after a year ? Currently I’m “over performing” in my current position, and I’m getting raises and all the good stuff, but they would not be able to match FAANG on $ and brand anytime soon.

SDE1 position, just to be clear.

I worked there for ~5.5 years out of college, I left a couple of years ago to try something else but I would say that it is worth it was worth it for me. Your experience is gonna be dictated big time by your manager and your manager's manager and there is wide variance on that across the company.

The average tenure there when I left was something like 18 months but there were many people in my org that had been there for years. I enjoyed working there but after working so much I wanted to relax a bit and felt like I had gotten all I could out of the company. The main benefit I got out of it was I was exposed to really big systems that need to be highly and highly responsive and learn how such systems get designed, iterated on and operated on in production (along with assorted best practices). At the bare minimum it equipped me to be able to handle any System Design Interview. That type of experience is not exclusive to them but easier to run into there.

I wouldn't worry about PIP, it is not as bad or prevalent as they make it out, the odds of you being put on it are really low. I only know of 1 person I worked with that was PIP'd. Everyone else was promoted from 1 to 2 and not all were rockstar developers. You really have to not give a shit or get really unlucky with a bad manager to get PIP'd. I also wouldn't pay much attention to what blind has to say, it is one of the most toxic places I've read.

Since you are going to be an SDE 1 it seems like you are a relatively recent grad? In that case I think there is no harm in stepping out of your comfort zone a bit even if you feel good about your current role. I can't speak much about how the finances, that depends on person to person, for some the extra money is not a big deal... others would literally sell their mother for a 10% increase in total comp, that's something you have to decide for yourself.

Funnily I've had many Amazon engineers fail system design interviews because they only ever saw their little area with more senior people handling all of the interesting stuff.

I also consider a small company starting to bring on ex-Amazon managers a sign that it's on its last legs.

I know this.

Historically Amazon recruits a lot harder than other elite tech companies. Someone will tell me "I never hear from anybody at FAANG" and I say, "You haven't heard from Amazon?" And they say, "Well, I've heard from Amazon" and I know it because Amazon recruiters contact every coder with a pulse several times a year.

I get spammed by Amazon recruiters! If I were willing to sell my soul I'd gladly join.

Instead I'll take 90k less base pay, still make doctor-money, enjoy my life, and not feel depressed morally working for a company like Amazon.

I’d say Amazon and Facebook have very aggressive recruiters. Their process might be selective, but their recruiters are not.

Heh today was my last day (L5). I only hung around about 21 months and didn't want to stick it out for my 2nd year's RSU vest date.

It _really_ depends on your manager and your team.

I kept trying to convince myself from the beginning that this team would eventually work out, but I was never a great fit for it.

My manager has decent enough intentions at times but never really did a great job at listening to issues that caused blockers, was forgetful, stretched thin, etc.

Team was very incongruous. For some people, they can be productive on their own, etc. But I never felt like the team chemistry worked for me. Most people feel like robots, honestly. They're fine grinding out code or whatever but they don't actively support you, even if it means unblocking you and giving you the knowledge you need to not be blocked again later. Some people would blame me for being mis-leveled as an L5 if I need any kind of support/mentorship, but I think all levels at some points, especially in the first 6-12 months, should be able to get both of those, within reason.

My team wasn't really stressful with deadlines for the most part, however there were times when my manager tried to be overly eager and would make promises like "we can definitely do this by X" to upper management, when we were short-staffed and over-worked already (due to team attrition and being on-call more often, etc.). While some people could meet the deadlines (I honestly couldn't most of the time, which I blame myself for), not everyone can. And it does put strain on the team, even the people who do meet the deadlines.

I think you need to consider if the challenge is worthwhile to you. Amazon pays really well the first 2 years (due to cash bonus years 1 and 2, and then backloads RSU's in years 3 and 4, if you can stay that long). But I feel like you need to get an amazing idea of the manager and team before signing the offer. I didn't really have that opportunity.

On the other hand, I constantly have companies reaching out to me to interview now and that's with only basically 2 years of Amazon on my LinkedIn (rounded up). So it's clear that helps, career-wise.

Disclaimer: I was hired right around the WFH mandate, so never really got to meet most people in person or anything. Sometimes I wonder if the environment on the team would've felt differently otherwise.

Dispassionately it really depends on the group, but the odds are very bad that you'll be happy with work and especially management. I've known a lot of people who've gone there and the people I've liked best barely eked out a year there before leaving (literally one day past a year). The people I've thought worst of in previous jobs seem to be long term there though. :)

(Edit: Here in Seattle, I think Amazon isn't seen as such a great resume thing, especially for longer-term employees.)

If you've never worked at a FAANG its totally worth it.

1) FAANG is incredibly incestuous and working at one is a ticket to others.

2) The brand name is worth a lot to others too.

3) Like you said, the okay is good.

The *pay is good, not the okay.

> Amazon offer, would almost double my salary...

Seems like it's worth it. Having Amazon on your resume will open more doors if you decide to move on for any reason.

Source: I am an Amazon employee.

I’ve been here for ~4.5 years, on 3-4 teams across 2 different orgs. I work as an applied scientist (i.e. data scientist who meets the SDE bar, and works on an engineering team).

My personal experience has been that the reports you’ll find online have been greatly exaggerated. On none of my teams have I been expected to work more than 40 hours/wk, and all of my managers have been nice. I’ve worked 1-3 people who I believe to have been PIP’d, but they were legitimately low performers (highly opinionated, difficult to work with, unproductive).

I don’t doubt people have bad experiences. Amazon leaves a lot of power to managers, and that enables abuse probably more than other companies.

Amazon doesn’t attempt to be as employee-friendly as Google. If that’s important to you, it probably won’t be a good fit.

Amazon mostly focuses on the business, and treats employees mostly as the market requires. For engineers in a tight labor market, that means at least somewhat generously as long as you’re contributing value.

Amazon is known for being a place where nobody will hold your hand. I think the culture of ramping up new employees is weak, and more tenured employees are generally quite focused on their own work. This means a lot of unnecessary stress when you first start here imo, but it also demands some level of entrepreneurialism and self-sufficiency. These are good skills to develop and be held accountable to.

It’s a big company, and whether your experience is positive/negative is mostly a function of the team/manager you end up with.

The promotion process seems intentionally obstructive, although lots of people do get promoted (i.e. most everyone who joins as SDE I and sticks around).

I’ve had (several?) local primary care doctors hint that a fair amount of people working here are either anxious or depressed. Not sure how true that is elsewhere in tech though. I have a suspicion that FAANG companies in general attract a lot of people with existing insecurities, and so I think that might come with the territory to some extent. Though I could totally see Amazon’s culture exacerbating that.

So is it worth it? I’d probably do it again. I don’t love the place as an employer, but it’s not nearly as bad the internet makes it out to be in my personal experience. Many of the employee/culture problems you’ll see at Amazon exist at other FAANG companies (and in corporations in general)… Amazon is somewhat more openly capitalistic and thus the problems probably exist to a somewhat greater degree, but still the variance between mid-large tech companies is much smaller than the variance within them.

Honestly I’m much more bothered by the lack of meaningfulness in having my life’s work being a contribution to a consumerist shopping platform than how Amazon treats me… and in that respect, switching to the addiction/surveillance/advertising FAANGs/other tech companies isn’t much of an upgrade.

Just one perspective.

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