2 Years at Amazon, 0 Achievement. How to Handle Interviews?

Amazon ,..
Jun 7 41 Comments

I joined Amazon 2 years ago fresh out of college as an SDE-1. Unfortunately, I am not a good fit. My skills (both technical and soft skills) were just not up to par, and only 3 months in the job I already had a gut feeling that I wouldn't succeed at Amazon. I was constantly filled with fear of getting fired. However, this is my first full-time job, and I was also concerned about my visa issues so I had no other option but to work harder and improve.

I managed to drag out this experience to 2 years with the help of my manager who gave me chance after chance. However, for the past 2 years I have achieved 0 in my job. I know I deserve to be fired, and I am trying to prepare for interviews now.

For the past 2 years, I have not delivered any meaningful project at all. Now I have nothing to list on my résumé, and I don't know what to say in behavioral interviews. I was never assigned any meaningful project. All I have done in my job is some trivial ops work -- renewing SSL certs, repurposing hosts, security patching, etc... , and don't think I can list them in my résumé, nor can I tell them in an interview.

Now I feel like a huge fraud, having 2 years experience at Amazon but with 0 actual achievement. Can anyone offer me advice on what to do?

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TOP 41 Comments
  • Amazon broke&dumb
    You just described 50% of SDEs in the retail org, except that they won't admit it like you do.
    Jun 7 3
    • Amazon ,..
      OP
      I'm actually in AWS 😁
      Jun 7
    • Amazon / Eng batou
      probably 80% of junior engineers at Amazon are in this situation?
      Jun 7
    • eBay oltpycsb
      And the rest are already in pip 😂
      Jun 7
  • Facebook cochococho
    Oh look at this. An engineer that is self aware and doesnt blame the system for everything going wrong at work!
    Jun 7 0
  • Amazon ChivalryAF
    Learn how to bullshit in interviews. In fact, the more you learn to do this, the more you’ll increase your TC. Hell, even apply for an SDM role!
    Jun 7 4
    • Amazon npYz41
      This is the truth. Fake it till you make it
      Jun 7
    • Qualtrics yBKr84
      Serious question: How is it possible to bullshit in an SDE interview? You either know the technical stuff or you don’t.
      Jun 8
    • Amazon npYz41
      He meant bs that you worked on larger projects. Study those projects and prepare for design. Leetcode is standard anyways
      Jun 9
    • Amazon ChivalryAF
      This woman or man gets it! ^^
      Jun 9
  • New / Eng
    Blu3

    New Eng

    PRE
    Apple
    Blu3more
    Keep cashing those Checks bro.
    Jun 7 0
  • New aias
    If your manager doesn’t trust you it might be part of why you didn’t get meaningful work. To keep in mind next time. You’re still in a good spot. Interview and put on the spin - also a skill - and you’ll be fine.
    Jun 7 2
    • Amazon ,..
      OP
      It's not that my manager doesn't trust me. It's me failing at earning his trust. I've built myself a poor track record of delivery.
      Jun 7
    • Bloomberg
      YUNOSlayer

      Bloomberg

      PRE
      Bloomberg LP
      YUNOSlayermore
      The fact that you can even acknowledge that, is a great thing. Now try to be more critical, why did you build that poor track record? Are your peers performing better? If so, why? Why are you failing to deliver? Is it your technical knowledge? If it is then you should work on that, I’m sure Amazon provide some sort of e-learning for their engineers?
      Jun 7
  • Amazon / Eng GoodOmen
    Join a startup. Fortunately for me I had 5 YOE before joining Amazon. I was surprised realizing many of the guys who came straight out of college to Amazon know very little about fundamental principles, patterns, and design. Amazon makes SDEs really good at doing SRE work.
    Jun 7 5
    • Amazon / Eng batou
      thanks for sharing. how would joining a start up help? why not join another big company like google, fb?
      Jun 7
    • Amazon / Eng GoodOmen
      You work on what’s necessary in a startup. Everyone is working on vital components. You also use the latest and greatest technology. At a behemoth like Amazon there’s a ton of fluff so you could spend your entire career in an ancillary team.
      Jun 7
    • New / Strategy
      Porsche996

      New Strategy

      PRE
      Tesla Motors, Amazon, BMW, Google
      Porsche996more
      This is so true. Back at my time at Tesla, they handed over a mission. I need to slap together a whole lot shit oneself with little to no help. Was taxing but have something really great to be proud of. So, when there is a clean slate you can build from scratch.
      Jun 7
    • Airbnb / Mktg Jonny555
      This is great advice. You’ll get a crash course, have the opportunity to prove yourself, get pulled in a lot more directions — go back to a big company for double the money in 3 years.
      Jun 7
    • Square / Eng Tom@Jerry
      Startup is a great place to learn stuff, but the pay is nonexistent....
      Oct 10
  • Amazon leetboy
    You definitely have meaningful work you've done in the past two years. You just have to do some thinking about the impact of your contributions, and articulate that impact to your interviewer.

    Just because you don't think you achieved much at Amazon, doesn't mean other employers will have the same opinion.

    If you're not able to salvage your career at Amazon (either by clean slate on a new team, or by understanding where your gaps are on your current team and taking steps towards improvement), I would focus heavily on LeetCode and constructing narratives of the work you did at Amazon so that behavioral questions are not a problem.
    Jun 7 0
  • Salesforce bookwar
    Did you write any tools? Any QA work? Any automation? Bug fixing? Bug investigation? You probably have a good understanding of AWS so that's something to work with. A software dev with a good understanding of operations is pretty useful. 2 years out of college is still pretty new. You've got tons of years left to figure out where you fit.
    Jun 7 3
    • Amazon ,..
      OP
      I actually have never used AWS, despite having worked here for 2 years. I know this is one of my main issues -- lack of interest in our own product.

      I've heard of EC2, S3 because my teammates have talked about them. That's about it! I have never even spun up a virtual machine on AWS.
      Jun 7
    • Amazon / Eng GoodOmen
      🤦‍♂️EC2 is a VM...oh boy.
      Jun 7
    • Amazon doomsday1
      I'm non tech and the ec2 being a vm is a bit concerning
      Jun 7
  • Facebook Transforme
    It's beyond refreshing to see a humble post on Blind, among all the TC boasting and dick size posturing.

    Given your self-awareness, accountability and refusal to use excuses, I predict a very successful career ahead. If you can find motivation somehow.
    Jun 7 0
  • Citrix Systems / Eng peda
    Dude that’s the story of most engineers. I am sure most Sde’s feel same. I too feel the same. But guess what ? Leet your way out. I jumped 🚢 with not much on my resume and now after jumping feel the same thing. So don’t worry, and try to add in value to the work you are doing. Think how has it helped your product as a whole. If you had not done that security patch then what would have happened. Try to qualify that and do some sugar coating. !! You will breeze through. For really system design stuff do grokking 😬
    Jun 7 0
  • New / Eng
    mRvg14

    New Eng

    PRE
    Amazon, Bloomberg LP
    BIO
    Amazon sde
    mRvg14more
    Bet some outside feedback like a mentor - there are plenty available. Dm me if you need help finding one.

    The work you're doing is not going to help you improve, you're effectivly stuck. Looks like your manager actually isn't doing his job. He should either be willing to manage you up, or out and from the sounds of things your sdm is doing neither.
    Jun 7 0
  • Bayer / IT Genie_22
    So if you say you achieved 0 in your job but then you list “All I have done in my job is some trivial ops work -- renewing SSL certs, repurposing hosts, security patching, etc...” t

    So why can’t you list them on you resume? Why can’t you tell someone in an interview what you did?

    Need to take a step back and take a moment to reflect. Then list out everything you have learned on the job. Next list out what you do on the job. When I say lost what you do, I really mean every little detail. No matter how stupid/useless this may seem. Ask yourself how many hosts was your team responsible for?

    Now the hard part, categorize your list of what you do and learned on the job. Stay high level.
    Renewing SSL certs list as “Managed SSL certs” etc.

    Will take effort but you aren’t as hopeless as you think.
    Jun 7 0
  • Amazon kh4A6m
    Ask for intern mentorship, I actually felt I learnt a lot while helping the young interns, they have a different perspective.
    Jun 7 2
    • Amazon mnmhgf
      Mentoring a poor intern who's desperate to do anything to get a return offer?
      No, this is not fair.
      Jun 7
    • Amazon kh4A6m
      More than mentoring, the hardest part is convincing the bar raiser to hire the intern, it's as if all the intern's efforts boil down to that one meeting
      Jun 7
  • Intel TyQi
    Maybe....you are actually doing fine? Maybe you are being too hard on yourself?

    I have a feeling you’re too caught up in your own head. You say you think you should be fired, and you’re sure it’s coming, but your manager hasn’t indicated anything like that. Have you had a candid conversation with him like you are here?

    It’s easy to think people should KNOW that you want a project, or that you would be perfect for something. Maybe you think you are dropping subtle hints. But you’re not. Some people don’t pick up on that. You have to advocate for yourself. Ask for a project directly.

    And I can’t overstate this enough, but you’re young. No one is a rockstar right out of college! Shit, do you even know who you are? I didn’t have that shit figured out until my 30s and it’s still a fucking journey, and no where near what I thought it was going to be. Don’t let what you “think” should be guide you - you will always be disappointed. Get that little life lesson learned and out of the way, and you’ll be so much happier with yourself.
    Jun 8 0
  • Castlight Health whaaaaaat
    Why don't you ask your manager to join a project with impact that has a strong lead who can mentor you?
    Jun 7 0
  • BBDO sxYo02
    You have two years of experience at a top tech company. Even if you "suck" at Amazon/AWS you're still better than probably 90% of software engineers working today.

    There's a ton of dev jobs out there where you will likely fit in better and not be filled with a fear of being fired. However, you probably won't get the same prestige or TC at those companies.
    Jul 19 0
  • New lUqA41
    one advice that my professor used to tell and I'lll take it to my grave - "FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT"
    Jun 8 0
  • Amazon RubOnRails
    Try to fix it while at Amazon. In another company you will face similar challenges
    Jun 8 0
  • Netflix enjoylyfe
    Figure out why you took up computer science. What part of it interests you? Data science, machine learning, systems? Read an overview about them and see which ones want to make you explore more. Continue reading on it and do a side project on it. This would give you three things 1) help you find what you like and what you don't 2) give you something to put on your resume and 3) give you confidence in your skills. I'm sure Amazon saw something in you to hire you. Not to mention your manager who sees something in you to keep giving you chances and not putting you on PIP. Good luck and keep us posted!
    Jun 8 0
  • New / Eng
    articuno

    New Eng

    BIO
    🤔 If I write a bio that seems to defeat the purpose of Blind.....so hello person that reads this 🙂
    articunomore
    You gotta start dogfooding a bit if you want to provide something you feel is meaningful or to build your self esteem up a bit. Most of us will LC, but a project or feature can always exist in a portfolio.
    Jun 7 0