Amazon ramp up time

Jul 7, 2019 26 Comments

How long does it take to get up to speed at Amazon? What are the general expectations for a L5 engineer? Any tips for engineers coming from small teams/startups?


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TOP 26 Comments
  • Amazon qw2o9d
    2-3 months ramp up time. 6 months to 1 year to become a solid contributor. In the beginning an L5 can ask clarifying questions, but later is expected to work and design systems by themselves. Is expected to actively contribute to improve team's systems and engineering decisions.
    For engineers coming from startups, expect lot of bureaucracy and process around the smallest of the things. Expect security being a big deal. Expect things to take a lot more time. And expect having an internal tool for pretty much everything which takes some time to onboard.
    Jul 7, 2019 4
    • Oracle / R&D TLead
      Do L5s have to design the system and build it all by themselves? And also how does teamwork come into the play? What are some pros and cons you’ve observed? Any insights on what to do and what not to do?
      Jul 7, 2019
    • Amazon qw2o9d
      Principals, L6s or other more senior L5s are always available to consult, but you are expected to understand the problem well, enlist possible approaches, coordinate with different teams if needed and deliver the product.
      I've seen delivery of the product is the toughest part especially when it involves multiple teams.
      Teamwork comes into play when arriving at technical decisions. Usually teams conduct a meeting to decide schema of a database, deciding what tech to use, tech reviews, etc.
      Overall Amazon gives some really good ownership and responsibility to engineers so you learn a lot, but is struggling with headcount (more work, less people) hence delivery of a big project becomes really difficult.
      What to do? Have weekly syncs with all parties and stakeholders involved. Management plays a big part in headcount allocation to a project as well. Inform your manager early enough if you think project timelines are going to change.
      What not to do? Taking too much on your plate and thinking it will get done with unrealistic and overconfident timelines.
      Jul 7, 2019
    • Oracle / R&D TLead
      So say, I’ll be working on designing system, enlisting various approaches, now I have to deliver the product. So do I have a team that works with me in developing it? Say I have to build 10 different microservices, would I be building all those myself?

      I am really trying to understand the hard parts. I’ll be joining as L5. So I’d like to know what challenges I’ll be facing, what are the challenges you’ve faced and how you have dealt with them.

      Also I hear a lot about DevList here on blind. Do you even get put on it if you are doing your best? I’m asking because I’m still on my F1 OPT and need to get H1B. If that’s a common thing at Amazon then I may have to reconsider cause my other offers are from Microsoft, Zillow. I am liking the part about taking ownership and building efficient solution at Amazon. But I also want to get my H-1B.
      Jul 7, 2019
    • Amazon / Eng firefly123
      A system requiring interplay between 10 services would probably be multi-team at least and driven by a more senior engineer. You might be responsible for one or two services, as a rough ballpark.

      Dev list is WAY overblown here but it’s not about effort, it’s about output relative to peers. Amazon stack ranks with a forced curve and managing out the bottom bracket, if this fact is unsettling you should really soul search whether this is the right company culturally.
      Jul 8, 2019
  • Amazon Tryin2Help
    Expectations from your manager will start growing after 3 months, and it will be enough for him/her to put you on exit path (DevList) if he/she prefers.
    Jul 7, 2019 13
    • Oracle / R&D TLead
      Not helping you guys. I’m trying to understand the challenges. My other offers are from Microsoft and Zillow. I am not looking for a place to coast but I’m on F1 OPT and would be joining as L5. So I need to get my H-1B in the next two tries and seems like Amazon is putting people on DevList which makes it difficult if employee won’t get H-1B. What are your thoughts? Insights and advices are genuinely appreciated.
      Jul 7, 2019
    • Amazon oktrdq
      If you are good technically and good in communicating you will likely not get into devlist. If you have a bad manager it doesn’t matter how good you are, you can get into dev list. If you are not confident better to join other companies instead.
      Jul 8, 2019
    • Oracle / R&D TLead
      Fair enough. The thing is I am good technically and also good at communicating. The only thing that I have little control over is how good is my manager. And looking at the posts I am scared about my manager and management more than my skills. If I had received H-1B by now then I wouldn’t have worried a lot. But since I do not have one yet, that worries me.
      Jul 8, 2019
    • Amazon / Eng lifeisbear
      Here, awful managers all around. My current manager is exceptionally good, but the previous one was quite opposite. The biggest risk is working with new hire managers.
      Jul 8, 2019
    • Oracle / R&D TLead
      Could you explain more about why new hire managers are risky?
      Jul 8, 2019
  • Amazon DHJH32
    Prioritize learning to prioritize and say no. Most burnout is self-inflicted by trying to be "high performing" and making everyone happy, except yourself.
    Jul 7, 2019 1
    • Amazon / Eng

      Amazon Eng

      I’m from Fresno
      One trap I see people fall into is:
      Stakeholder asks “why will that task take 2 weeks?”
      Engineer interprets it as a challenge to competency and cuts estimate to 1 week. Does 70 hours week to meet revised estimate. Sets unsustainable bar for themself.

      Don’t do this. If it takes two weeks, stick to it, back up with data about what you know and what you don’t, and add buffer for safety in case things don’t go to plan. It never goes to plan.
      Jul 7, 2019
  • New
    5’3 Indian


    Just a kid who never grew up!
    5’3 Indianmore
    Switch companies once you ramp up.
    Jul 7, 2019 0
  • Microsoft UseDeFeet
    3 weeks
    Jul 7, 2019 1
  • Amazon / Eng jNeo42
    Your SDM will decide at 6 months if you’re meeting the L5 bar or not. If you’re not, then the formal process to manage underperformance will begin. This means you have no more than 2 months to ramp up — you’d better be working on your first ticket by the end of your first. You’ll need those next 4 months to demonstrate that you are in fact in the top 50% of SDE 2s.
    Jul 8, 2019 0
  • Amazon qScG02
    It will take 6 months for you to run with a project on your own
    Jul 7, 2019 0


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