Amazon L5/SDE2 for 12yoe

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JaJa JaJa

American Express

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JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America
JaJa JaJamore
Feb 23 51 Comments

I've accepted L5 offer at Amazon with 12 yoe. I did enquire about levels before the interview and the recruiter told me that L6 has a very high bar. This was before I knew much as much as I know now through blind otherwise I would have pushed for L6 loop.
I'm happy with the TC Amazon offerdd, a bump of +50%, and also that I would be working for a higher tier company which means better things for my career. However I'm wondering if I've shot myself in the foot for not even interviewing for L6 and what would be 2-3 years impact of taking this offer on my career. Any advice?

PS: Of course recruiter told me that I've a real shot at making L6 in a year.

Amazon TC: 260k, Austin

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TOP 51 Comments
  • Amazon oclue
    Woah that TC is fuckload for austin. Probably like 350k seattle?
    Feb 23 11
    • Apple xUEdsjT
      Why do you think Seattle is more expensive than Austin? CoL calculators are giving me about the same.
      Feb 23
    • The you have messed up CoL calculators. Seattle is at least 20%, closer to 30% more expensive
      Feb 23
    • Housing alone is 50% higher
      Feb 23
    • Oracle / Eng Larry elli
      Yes Seattle housing is crazy expensive when compared to Austin. But housing prices are trying to catch up in Austin as well. Have been seeing 10% YOY increases for the past several years now.
      Feb 24
    • Yes, and meanwhile Seattle has been seeing 15 or 20% increases
      Feb 24
  • Amazon lilyhammer
    Recruiters say that all the time to people who are under-levelled. Fact is, many engineers have a shot at hitting the next level within the next 12-18 months but very few of them will get the kind of projects and exposure needed to get to the next level. It depends on your team.
    Feb 23 1
    • Amazon / Eng
      y67bert1pz

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Microsoft
      y67bert1pzmore
      Agreed. It's also highly dependent on whether or not your manager "likes you" and how data is construed and how many times management changes.

      Also keep in mind that whatever team you join will likely have a "queue" of existing SDE 2s who are in line for promo, and you'll be at the end of the line, regardless of how you perform.

      I've seen people be promoted under one org to SDE 3, change teams, and then be fired (not managed out, fired).

      Also: I myself was told I had a real shot at SDE 3, then my team dissolved and to this day my new management does not discuss it with me.
      Feb 23
  • Amazon 8663472423
    I’m sure with 12 yoe you were interviewed as L6. You just didn’t meet the bar. You always have an option of denying offer.
    Feb 23 3
    • American Express
      JaJa JaJa

      American Express

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      JaJa JaJamore
      OP
      No, I was clearly told my interviews were for L5 and I asked why not for L6. I was referred by an ex-colleague for SDE2 position.
      Feb 23
    • Amazon / Eng
      goodgumbo

      Amazon Eng

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      Samsung America
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      goodgumbomore
      The loops are the same and if you raise the L5 bar highly. The interview board will discuss if you should be L6.

      This sounds like a good career growth for you. Take it. 6 months inside the company you might realize L6 is a higher bar than you thought.

      I had the same experience with Principal Engineer. I thought I was close and could try in a year after joining. Now inside I think 3 or even 4 is more realistic.
      Feb 23
    • American Express
      JaJa JaJa

      American Express

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      JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America
      JaJa JaJamore
      OP
      That's helpful @goodgumbo
      Feb 23
  • 1 year is very unlikely unless you come in and just crush everything. 2 years is much more likely. Also, this will only help you long term. Working at Amazon opens a lot of doors.
    Feb 23 7
    • Amazon oclue
      1 year is pretty much impossible to go from sde 2 to 3. Until 6 months u will still be learning the ropes at Amazon and how everything fits together. I have not even a seen a sde 1 to 2 promo happen in a year. The shortest i saw was for a year and few months but that person was an intern too for a few months. Im sde 2 with 2 yoe at Amazon and still i feel i have no project to put on my promo doc That is worthy of sde 3 caliber. There are so many other factors that needs to allign for u such as ur manager interested in promoting u in a year and actively working with u on it. Having the right projects for sde 3. Having a stable org or team which does not dissolve or get shifted to a new domain, having no other team mates in line for sde 3 promo and they getting all those meaty projects, or u just getting put into a new team with a new manager. Even if ur a rock star ill say 2-3 years is the minimum. Even 2 year is a stretch
      Feb 23
    • American Express
      JaJa JaJa

      American Express

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      JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America
      JaJa JaJamore
      OP
      What can help me learn the ropes faster. Knowing the tech stack like aws or are you talking more about politics? How can I know if there are opportunities for sde3. Let's say the org has already 1 sde3 per 5-7 sde2 and sde1. Is there a ratio. Let's say in 3 months I realize the team/project is not going anywhere. Should I switch to other team and how would I find out which are fast growing orgs. Can I apply for L6 internally that quick. Are certain locations (Seattle/bay) more easier to grow in. It's too many questions but I would appreciate it if you could answer some/all.
      Feb 23
    • Amazon oclue
      Whats the rush to be promoted to sde 3? If its TC then ur already in sde 3 band and getting promoted wouldnt change much. If its u like the work tasks of sde 3 more then just coding, then realize for sde 3 u need a pretty solid knowledge of all amazon internal systems and be an expert on ur team domain knowledge with influence on other sister teams too. Its pretty mich impossible to get to this level within a year. Thats why amazon rarely hires sde 3 from outside, even if in yoe they meet the bar. If u were an internal newly promoted sde 2 then getting to 3 would probably be a very stretch goal to do in a year. I hve only seen one sde 2 go to 3 in a year but that guy had total 4 yoe within amazon and he already had all domain knowledge. But u coming as an external hire with no knowledge of amazon tech stack and domain expertise of ur team its extremely unlikely.
      Feb 23
    • I think you're focusing too much on titles
      Feb 23
    • Amazon goal earl
      In order to get promoted 2->3 you need to lead several non-trivial projects. That along is a hard thing to do – you’ll need those projects to be in the team, and no other engineer better qualified to take them on than you.

      Also it’s cute that you think that Amazon develops on AWS :)
      Feb 24
  • Amazon lUYG55
    I work with 20 years sde 2. If you are not there then you won’t get promoted . Years of experience has nothing to do with level .

    That’s hell lot of money for Austin . Take it
    Feb 23 2
    • American Express
      JaJa JaJa

      American Express

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      JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America
      JaJa JaJamore
      OP
      I already took it. I'm content with the TC.
      Feb 23
    • Amazon lUYG55
      I did not say all his career he was in Amazon 😁😁
      Feb 23
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • He didn't say he was under paid. He got a 50% pay increase even at a lower level
      Feb 23
    • Amazon oclue
      Microsoft pays much lesser than amazon and there bar is easier too.
      Feb 23
    • Amazon / Eng fHUg57
      Olla actually A in FANG is Amazon but not Apple. The term was coined by the wall Street, not silicon valley, based on the boom these stocks made. 260k is almost maxed out at L5 TC range and may be slightly below the entry L6 TC range.
      Feb 23
    • Amazon oclue
      Olla is either an Amazon reject or was managed out
      Feb 23
    • Amazon oclue
      Yea coz u come bad mouthing an employer which most ppl will kill to work for and u are trolling with someone making 260k in austin as underpaid when that compensation puts u in top 3% of annual house hold income of america.
      Feb 23
  • Amazon / Eng jNeo42
    Ask for an SDE 3 upgrade process, which would be another on-site. You’ll likely never get it — you’d have to demonstrate that you’re already at the bar of the top half of SDE 3s at Amazon. Good luck with that. I had 20 yoe and was offered SDE 2. I tried very hard to plan for a quick path to SDE 3 as well, and it was a disaster. I had 4 different managers (2 L5 SDMs with very little engineering or management experience) and no momentum. I was managed out after 1.5 years. It was horrible — be very careful what you wish for! It is very difficult to get to SDE 3 internally, and all high SDE 2s have a target on their backs. At the 6-month mark you’ll know if you’re making the grade for SDE 3 material, or if you’re going to be submitted as an LE at your first review and then managed out over the course of the next 3-6 months.
    Feb 23 5
    • Pegasystems PegaPower
      Is job security better for medium performing SDE 2?
      Feb 23
    • Amazon frmnt
      Jeez. Amazon seems to be much more reluctant to hire SDE3s. I managed to go from SDE2 to L5 at Google. Required 2 additional system design interviews but it was not crazy difficult with a lot of prep. Google doesn't expect you to be a CTO of a small company or leading a big team at a bigger company for L5
      Feb 23
    • TC does not have any impact on whether you're LE or not. It isn't even discussed during OLR
      Feb 23
    • American Express
      JaJa JaJa

      American Express

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      JaJa JaJamore
      OP
      What is LE and OLR.
      Feb 23
    • LE is a performance rating. It's the lowest rating and those people who get it are put on a development (performance) plan. If they don't improve they are managed out.

      OLR is the talent review process
      Feb 23
  • Amazon / Eng :!
    I’ve interviewed someone as L5 and all interviewers agreed he raised the bar for L6. 2 additional rounds and he got an L6 offer. Just FYI.
    Feb 23 1
    • Amazon 8663472423
      Yeah. This is how it works.
      Feb 23
  • Amazon / Eng kwq7812
    To be honest, this is probably for the best: I've seen proportionally more external SDE3 hires forced out (fired) than just about any other role and level. The ones who tend to do well are those who have worked in similar cultures (e.g. Facebook, certain types of startup, or Amazon boomerangs).

    The reason is that Amazon's expectations for SDE3 do not align well with most other companies. Despite the title, SDE3 is not a "senior" software engineer role in the general industry sense; those responsibilities (mentorship, code reviewing, and design at the team scope) are primarily handled by more tenured/experienced/capable SDE2s. SDE3s are more typically tasked with acting as authoritative POCs and driving the development of cross-functional systems where there are multiple stakeholders and/or development teams involved.
    Feb 24 2
    • American Express
      JaJa JaJa

      American Express

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      JaJa JaJamore
      OP
      Thanks, very helpful to know.
      Feb 24
    • Amazon / Eng kwq7812
      Yup; good luck. I think you'll find that there's still a lot of room to grow as an SDE2, especially given the way Amazon works. SDE2 is something of a sweet-spot role at Amazon, because you can still get away with coding in a corner by yourself for several weeks, but also take on some SDE3-scope work (real experience that will carry with you throughout your career) without facing elevated expectations for success/delivery, if you want. Besides...at the end of the day, you're getting paid a lot more than you were before.
      Feb 24
  • Amazon rayLogan
    Recruiter has no insight or say into the OLR and the leveling process once you are in. Their job is to get you in the door. When you ask them again, the manager and HR would say they need to set the right expectations with the recruiter
    Feb 23 0
  • Facebook RNNAtttn
    Since you've already accepted the L5 offer, why think about this at all? Move on, do your best.
    Feb 23 2
    • American Express
      JaJa JaJa

      American Express

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      JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America
      JaJa JaJamore
      OP
      To get an idea about what to focus on. I don't want to work hard to prove myself for sde3 when I could be LCing and getting a L5 at Google in a year (Google l5 ==amazon l6) which would come with a pay bump too
      Feb 23
    • Facebook RNNAtttn
      That makes a ton of sense. I would advise to interview at Google for L5 regardless.
      Feb 23
  • Amazon jQpf16
    shot yourself in the foot. Amazon hiring is the worst. they under hire and under level all the time. Once you are in it only gets worse as the resentment builds. evaluate your options, dont expect the L6 and if you do internal promotions dont come with a lot a moolah
    May 19 0