A day in the life of a software development engineer at Amazon

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Amazon is one of the biggest companies currently which started with humble beginnings.

It is also one of the most sought-after tech companies to work at.

Almost 63% of the employees at Amazon have reported saying that they would recommend the company to others.

So what makes Amazon great?

  • One of the main reasons that people enjoy working here is the freedom that they are given. If you are innovative and enjoy creating things, Amazon is the place for you. Not only do they give you the freedom to build things, but also encourage this sort of behaviour.
  • Amazon pay scale and benefits provided are amazing and is better than what is provided in other companies.
  • Amazon provides a great work-life balance. It ensures that its employees get enough personal time and don’t burn out soon.
  • With their reach in several domains like Alexa, Kindle, Amazon Fire etc., there are ample opportunities to follow and a lot of skills to be learnt.

Apart from a great company to work at, it is the best e-commerce retailer since it places great importance on customer satisfaction. It is reported that every employee at Amazon has to spend two days every year working at the customer service desk, including the CEO. This video should give you more insight:

So if you’re wondering:

a. How to get into this company? Here’s your complete guide to cracking their recruitment process.

b. How is it like working in this company? For this, continue reading below

We spoke to TapChief expert, Saurabh Maurya, former SDE at Amazon, who gave us an insight into his day.

Hi Saurabh, thanks for speaking with us!

Happy to help 🙂

Thanks! So let’s start with a basic question. How was it like working with Amazon?

Not to sound clichéd, but I had an amazing time working with Amazon. I got to learn so much while working there, partly thanks to my supportive team and managers. They would always encourage us to ask questions and innovate in any way we could.

Though the pressure was a little too high, the fun and casual environment and learning more than made up for it.

That’s sounds great. But cracking the interviews must have been tough.

Not exactly. But you can read my article on how to crack coding interviews or this article which talks about how you can ace the recruitment process.

Thanks for that! Could you talk us about your experience at Amazon?

Sure. Each team at Amazon would consist of 7–8 people; 3 SDE 1s, 3 SDE 2s and 1 Manager. 2 teams like this would sit together and work and there would be 1 Group Manager handling both the teams.

I think I liked about Amazon was that they would try to maintain a healthy ratio between SDE 1s and SDE 2s, which would usually be 1:1. I liked this because there would be someone to directly supervise us and learn from.

The code is written in Java or Ruby and the backend uses DynamoDB. It helps if you know these.

Every team would be given a simple independent piece of code and an SDE 1’s code would be reviewed by an SDE 2.

To the freshers, I’d like to say that, in the beginning, you’ll have to correct your code several times. But you’ll get better with time.

Amazon follows the Scrum framework and the sprint is reviewed every week or two. The team is given goals and this framework helps them plan ahead and work accordingly.

Another interesting system that Amazon follows is that they assign a particular product to a team and the team has to create that software and ensure the other teams don’t face an issue. During the launch of the software, the team that created it is on pager duty and has to solve any issue that crops up. This could even be at 2 or 3 in the night!

Since there is no QA that are assigned to such tasks, the team has to ensure that the code works.

Sounds exhausting. Since Amazon is such a big company, the working hours must be crazy.

Quite the contrary. I was able to maintain a great work-life balance. We had to work for only 5 days a week for around 9 hours. But if there was a deadline approaching, we would have to work on weekends as well.

That sounds doable. Hehe. Coming to the pay structure, is Amazon generous?

Yes! Compared to other companies, Amazon’s pay and benefits are pretty generous. The pay which is given to SDEs is fixed; which lies between 15L to 17L. This is excluding the stocks and relocation costs (if any) that they provide!

If you had to mention a few skills that you used for your role, what would those be?

Off the top of my head, my code should be in well written Java code. Along with this software architecture skills plays an important role. This skill comes into play when someone else is reading my code.

Though knowledge of data structures is required during interviews, it isn’t directly applicable at work.

Another important skill that is used is communication skills. I would sometimes require help from teams in the Hyderabad office or Seattle office, so at times like that, communication skills play an important role. Even during documentation, a sound knowledge of written English comes in handy.

Career growth in Amazon

The promotions in Amazon are very well structured and is partly is in your hands as well.

You’re given a document where you can mention why you deserve a promotion and what you have done or your accomplishments which back your claims.

There are set levels and against each level are goals and initiatives that you should’ve completed to be eligible for the next level.

For an SDE 1 to move to the next step (SDE 2), you can apply for the promotion after 1.5 years of working. At this stage, several people choose to leave Amazon India and move to Amazon Seattle. This is possible and especially easy from any Indian team.

After you’ve completed a level as an engineer, you can choose to move to a more managerial position or continue being an engineer. A promotion meeting is held where the panel looks at all the code you’ve written, the comments on them, the bugs found etc. After that, a decision is made.

Amazon does not have any policy against internal transfers. If you wish to move to another team, the manager of the other team conducts an interview and decides to keep you or not. And there is no limit to the number of times you can take an internal transfer.

There are plenty of opportunities that are available on Amazon. With Amazon hiring going on, you should make the most of this opportunity and apply!

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