Offer choice, Research Scientist, FB or Amazon?

Facebook albertaiq
Aug 28 17 Comments

Hi all, I am a fresh grad PhD(0 YOE) in Machine Learning and I want to seek some advice on two offers I received recently. I interned at FB(that's why I have this account) and got a return full time offer, I also received a full time offer from Amazon, both have the title of Research Scientist.

Compensation detail:
FB: E4, base 160K, stock 300K(25, 25, 25, 25 vesting schedule), sign on 100K
Amazon: L5, base 150K, stock 160K(5, 15, 40, 40 vesting schedule), sign on 60+40K for the first two years.

I am leaning towards FB now, but I still haven't made up my mind yet. Since I interned at FB, so I have a decent feeling of what working at FB is like, but I know very little about Amazon. I am going to list the pros and cons of working for FB to me compared to working for Amazon, so you folks can better understand what my concerns ares.

Pros:
1. Better TC at FB(276K counting 10% target bonus compared to 215K). Also I've learnt that FB has better benefits compared to Amazon. For example, Amazon doesn't have free meals, this can be inconvenient and another 10K expense per year. I kept reading people saying don't chase TC, but it's really hard for me to ignore the TC difference here. This is the primary reason why I am leaning towards FB now.
2. Faster promotion at FB. I learnt from co-workers at FB that it takes an average of 1.5 years to be promoted to E5 from E4. For Amazon, I am not so sure, but based on my search online, it seems unlikely that one can get to L6 from L5 in 1.5 years.
3. Overall my internship experience at FB is good. I like the fast move pace and freedom(to an extent) to try new ideas.

Cons:
1. I don’t know my team at FB yet. I’ll go through boot camp and select my team then. I am probably going to work for a product ML team. To be honest, I don’t have a strong belief in FB’s products, or social media overall. During my internship, all we care about is how to make user spend/waste more time on FB. It doesn’t feel like inventing new technology to me. For Amazon, I am going to work for the Alexa team. NLP doesn’t quite align with my specialty, but Alexa is an interesting product.
2. At FB, most Research Scientists are just SWEs with PhD degrees. There are real research roles(like FAIR), but that is not the case for me. Being an SWE means that I’ll have on-call duties. I’ll need to spend a lot of time maintaining the product’s service, thus have less time implementing new features, creating new model, etc. Do Amazon’s Research Scientists have any on-call duties?

I hope I explained my thoughts clear enough. What does an RS in Amazon do on a daily basis? Is there anything I am missing in making the decisions between these two offers? I wish to get some honest advice and thank you all in advance.

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TOP 17 Comments
  • Microsoft oh snap!
    At Facebook you can find a ton or positions that require creating new models. You can choose where you want to to be and how much SWE vs ML work you want to do. Regarding on-call it’s team/product specific and obviously not all teams have on-call. Hope that addresses some of your concerns.
    Aug 28 2
    • Facebook albertaiq
      OP
      Thanks for the information. I guess the team I interned for just happens to have really bad on-call. It feels bad to see engineers spend more than half of their time during their on-call weeks dealing with oncall issues only.
      Aug 28
    • Microsoft oh snap!
      That’s definitely not the norm. The beauty of boot camp is that you’ll get 20-30 teams reaching out to you and you can ask about all these things and weed out the bad ones. Then you can sit with the promising ones for a couple of days to see what day to day things look like. Also culture, team mates, code reviews etc. It’s a much better experience than Amazon. And it’s a much better company.
      Aug 28
  • Facebook. It's a better brand for machine learning and the compensation is significantly higher.
    Aug 28 1
    • Facebook albertaiq
      OP
      Thanks for the advice! Does brand really make a difference in career growth? Also, from what I've learnt, Alexa is a pretty good brand in smart voice assistance products too.
      Aug 28
  • Facebook easzss
    I know this is superficial, but are you taking into account the perks, benefits, and vesting schedules?

    It would be runaway FB for me, but I'm biased.

    AML team is not a bad place to be either - you can choose teams in bootcamp.
    Aug 28 1
    • Facebook albertaiq
      OP
      Those are of course important as well. I am not very sure about the details of all the benefits, but the free meal is already a big plus for me. The 21 days PTO in the first year is also great, although many engineers in the team I interned for usually takes them only when they reach 30 days and are about to overflow. I don't know if this is common in FB or not. AML is definitely an interesting team to work for, I guess I'll learn more once I start the boot camp.
      Aug 28
  • Amazon CeoExtra
    Congrats...

    Amazon Research Scientists don’t do oncall or much production/service coding. Don’t be Applied Scientist though. They get slightly higher TC but need do some messy SW work as well.

    Easy to transfer internally. You are likely to end up in a team which you’ll find interesting.
    Aug 28 1
    • Facebook albertaiq
      OP
      Thanks! I guess Amazon's Applied Scientist is similar to FB's Research Scientist then. It's good to learn that Amazon RSs don't need to do oncall.
      Aug 28
  • Microsoft fidA18
    Facebook
    Aug 28 0
  • Veritas randomhand
    FAIR is a very prestigious AI group. You’ll definitely have more opportunities to get other roles down the line
    Aug 28 3
    • Facebook albertaiq
      OP
      Yes, if I get to work for FAIR, this would be a no-brainer for me. But since it's prestigious, they don't have many headcounts and the competition to get in is really bad. Based on my publication history, I am not optimistic in my chance to get in there.
      Aug 28
    • Veritas randomhand
      Go with Facebook. You know Amazon is too cheap to buy you the GPUs or even the proper resources
      Aug 28
    • Veritas randomhand
      Nvm Amazon has sagemaker. Go with Amazon since you wanted a research career and you should follow your heart. You clearly have done your research.
      Aug 28
  • Microsoft Dandanbao
    Facebook, collect your sign on, amazon RS will always welcome you after a year
    Sep 9 0
  • Axtria DesiLaunda
    What was the interview like?
    Sep 3 0
  • Autolist eFks14
    Fb definitely better overall. But if you are question about company outlook, you should probably go with Amazon
    Aug 28 0

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