Leave Tech Lead Position and NYC for Amazon L4

New / Eng
nyc>sf

New Eng

PRE
Elsevier
nyc>sfmore
Oct 18 41 Comments

Interviewed for L5 at Amazon, and I got placed at L4 in Seattle. I’m currently a tech lead for a large insurance company and am curious if it’s in my best interest to take a position two levels down from my current(tech lead -> senior eng -> eng(L4)). The position would require me to move to Seattle, although there are a lot less taxes, I love nyc as I’ve lived outside nyc my whole life and my family is in the area.

Some pros to Amazon:
- Great team members.
- Challenging work.(I feel unchallenged in my current role)
- Great company/products (I cant get behind the products I’m currently working on)
- Career growth (I think upward growth in my current position isn’t something aspirational)
- I got really excited about the position in general after speaking with a couple of the engineering managers. Exciting products, an ability to work on stacks I have no experience with, finally an opportunity with some ML, ability to switch teams for the right fit, etc.

Some cons to Amazon offer:
- Lower role/ responsibilities.
- In Seattle and not NYC
- Less money. (I imagine my TC will be someone from 150 to 180k from Amazon. Currently I can bill at $100/ hour for at least 40 hours a week. Given that the money comes as as Corp to Corp, I can structure my taxes and my TC can be anywhere from 185k to 245k currently. Depending on how much I work as well.

TC: 185k - 245k (Dependent on hours worked/ how I structure my taxes)
YOE: 5 (I have a Masters from an Ivey in Machine Learning. If that adds anything)

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TOP 41 Comments
  • Amazon USSW74
    L4 is what new grads are hired at. Try facebook.
    Oct 18 8
    • Amazon USSW74
      It can help your career like others have said, but they will take their pound of flesh, be in no doubt. And do not listen to any assurances of quick promotion. Never take a job because a recruiter or hiring manager trying to close you said that.
      Oct 18
    • New / Eng
      nyc>sf

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      OP
      I don’t mind the flesh transfer in the deal. I used to work 80-90 hours for a start up and ended up with no equity by the time I left. I was gonna give Amazon whatever they were looking for
      Will the L4 affect how it looks on my resume greatly? Like if I’m 2 years I’m still L4 and interview at FB or google, will they ask my current level at Amazon and hold that against me?
      Oct 18
    • Amazon FPCf78
      People seriously need to stop with the bullshit “unbelievably bad wlb” at Amazon. Seriously isn’t even bad. I don’t see anyone working more than 45 hours max in my group or surrounding teams. I’m sure there are bad teams, but I have yet to see it be wide spread
      Oct 18
    • New / Eng
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      OP
      Thanks for the response. Any suggestion of teams? I really wanted to get some exposure to ML and things outside of mobile.
      Oct 18
    • Amazon USSW74
      You dont have to tell people you were L4, just put 'software engineer'
      Oct 18
  • Amazon KQrf25
    Since you were down leveled you could
    Probably get to an L5 pretty quickly once you join and kill it. You have got to get a good brand early enough on your resume. 2 years at amazon and you will be in a different league. You can always go back to your consulting gig anytime. My 2 cents.
    Oct 18 5
    • New / Eng
      nyc>sf

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      OP
      Thanks. I definitely see that. Off of a lot of Amazon linked in I see many people spending years at L4 before L5. Is it better for me to wait 6 months and reinterview at L5? Or take L4 now and possibly wait years to be promoted. And even more years to be at my current role level.
      Oct 18
    • Amazon KQrf25
      L4 to L5 shouldn’t take more than 2 years. You could try getting it much sooner than that. Only L6 is senior, so maybe you aren’t able to differentiate their levels unless you are internal?
      Oct 18
    • New / Eng
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      2 years just seems like a long time when I feel like I was 30 minutes away from it just a week ago lol.
      I haven’t talked comp with the recruiter yet, but I’ve already talked to a couple engineering managers about their teams and am supposed to decide which to join. Do I pick my team first and then negotiate salary?
      Oct 18
    • LinkedIn halotim
      Don’t make such assumption that you will get promotion pretty soon. It depends on a lot of things. Reorg happens so frequently in Amazon, you may have more than 3 managers in a year. It will delay your promotion. If you feel you are down leveled, don’t accept the offer. Reinterview for L5 in 6 months.
      Oct 18
    • New / Eng
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      Thanks for the input halotim. I just know 6 months as L4 would be better time spent than my current position. But there’s also more FANG companies that I could interview with in the meantime as well.
      Oct 18
  • Amazon / Legal SEA-AMZN
    I moved down to an analyst (non tech) role to join Amazon. I was managing the entire department at a smaller company prior. You just need to prove your worth to climb up the ladder. I started as L4 hourly then moved to L4 salary and then to L5 within 2 years. Was worth it for me.
    Oct 18 4
    • New / Eng
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      Thanks for the input. I just feel like once I take L4 I’m stuck as that as my starting point. Versus waiting for an L5 equivalent at another FANG company within a couple months.
      Oct 18
    • Amazon / Legal SEA-AMZN
      Valid point. Also it doesn’t even really have to be another company. Amazon is so big another org may see you as L5.
      Oct 18
    • New / Eng
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      Ya, I was going to wait for the comp negotiations to inquire about reapplying for L5 or even L4 positions in nyc so the comp is slightly higher and so I don’t have to move.
      Oct 18
    • Amazon FPCf78
      Just tell the recruiter you want a position in NYC and insist on it. They’ll make it work. The need for SDEs is so high they won’t let a candidate walk away on a location preference
      Oct 18
  • Amazon ThanksGi
    L4 to L5 is one year thing if you are on right team with good manager
    Oct 18 1
    • Amazon FPCf78
      Agreed. If they’re good, they’ll get promoted. If bad mgr, just hop teams
      Oct 18
  • New / R&D
    VeoQ04

    New R&D

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    Check Point Software Technologies, Ltd.
    BIO
    Senior iOS developer and tech lead
    VeoQ04more
    How many yoe?
    Either title is inflated (no offense ...) or you didn’t do that well in the onsite. Plus you mentioned contract hourly work ... then what do you tech lead on hourly projects? Or do you manage a team?

    Context sounds strange.
    Tech lead / senior is l6 (and many get down leveled to l5 which has a huge range ...)
    L4 is kinda new grad - up to 2-3 years of experience...
    Oct 18 6
    • New / R&D
      VeoQ04

      New R&D

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      Check Point Software Technologies, Ltd.
      BIO
      Senior iOS developer and tech lead
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      Gotcha
      Not sure you’ll be allowed to do side stuff plus if you wanna make progress in amazon you’ll prob need to put those hours towards that

      If I were you - I would pass and interview again when you can make l5 or try l6 and get downleveled then potentially
      Oct 18
    • New / Eng
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      The idea of leaving the opportunity entirely leaves me a little unsettled given I think it’s overall better than my current position. I may try to see if they could be flexible towards me staying in nyc and then it would make the decision much easier.
      Passing on it entirely seems unlikely on my end though, unless I get a competing fang offer
      Oct 18
    • New / R&D
      VeoQ04

      New R&D

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      Check Point Software Technologies, Ltd.
      BIO
      Senior iOS developer and tech lead
      VeoQ04more
      Gotcha
      The l4 to l5 move is relatively easy - it’s just you’ll be stuck with the tc

      If you can deal with that sure

      About nyc - depends on the team and hiring manager
      In nyc regardless though Comp is higher at amazon which is good
      (I’ll be joining next month , got some good insights of what Seattle vs ny is like)
      Oct 18
    • New / Eng
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      OP
      I know the sector of amazon I was hired for doesn’t have any teams in nyc. So I’m not sure if I have to get reinterviewed for a sector of teams that operate out of nyc.
      And ya the higher comp in nyc would be great, and I wouldn’t have to leave nyc.

      We’re you asking for insights between the vs of the two cities or offering?
      Oct 18
    • New / R&D
      VeoQ04

      New R&D

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      Check Point Software Technologies, Ltd.
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      Senior iOS developer and tech lead
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      No.
      I was looking from the getgo for a ny placed position - I just have friends in Seattle
      Oct 18
  • I don’t know, I feel like you need some competing offers.
    Oct 18 4
    • New / Eng
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      OP
      I’ve got a Facebook onsite in a week. But competing offers won’t bump me to L5. I figure I’m capped at the salary at Amazon. The alternatives are waiting and interviewing for L5 level positions across other FANG
      Oct 18
    • Facebook pays much better than Amazon
      Oct 18
    • New / Eng
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      OP
      Ya, and it’s in nyc, so I wouldn’t have to move. I haven’t passed the FB onsite yet though, so still some unknowns. I just liked the culture and career investment I’ve seen so far from Amazon, by talking to the eng managers.
      Oct 18
    • I get it, but FB>Amazon. Go get this FB offer! Plus weather in Seattle sucks.
      Oct 18
  • Amazon anon843
    I'm an L4 at Amazon (new grad) and am happy but would be miserable if I had been a tech lead role and were moved to L4. You will not get much of a say in architectural decisions: there is a pretty clear hierarchy and the senior l5/l6 gives you very small features to work on that are well defined. Maybe they would treat you better because you have industry experience, idk.
    Oct 18 1
    • New / Eng
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      OP
      Hey, thanks I appreciate the input. I was worried that the sort of hierarchical position would hinder me, but I was also hoping to speak up in the regard in an attempt to minimize my time until a promotion to L5
      Oct 19
  • New 000🦉
    Take the best FANG offer you can get. Sounds like staying where you are is going to kill your career anyway. So if the only offer is the L4 Amazon then take it and work your way from there. Experience matters and you still early in your career. Tech lead at some insurance company doesn't mean anything to FANG. ML Masters means you won't have a problem at least getting interviews anytime you try. Recruiters will always pick up your CV.
    Oct 18 3
    • New / Eng
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      OP
      Thanks for the input! I think the question becomes should I take L4 or hold out and keep interviewing?
      And I’m also curious, will that fact that I was only an L4 at Amazon hold me back from other positions down the line? Like I I take the L4 and in 2 years I’m interviewing at FB, will they ask what level I was at Amazon and give me the equivalents
      Oct 18
    • New 000🦉
      IMHO L4 at Amazon looks better any day than insurance company experience (i don't mean to be offensive). And if you get the opportunity to apply ML at Amazon that will have a lot of weight in the future. Depending on how soon you need to accept the Amazon offer, if I were you, i would definitely try to get as many offers as possible. But if nothing else i would move to get the experience at Amazon.
      Oct 18
    • New 000🦉
      To answer your question differently... L4 at Amazon is the only thing that's certain right now. You have no idea if you will get an L5 offer in the future from a FANG if you hang around in your current job.
      Oct 18
  • Amazon USSW74
    Worl for FB in Seattle. You will be able to save some real money
    Oct 18 0

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