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How to choose an impactful team for application?

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Senior Software Engineer at Upstart2 months ago

I'm fortunate to have someone who will refer me for whatever role I want at Amazon.

The problem is there are tons of very different teams and I can't tell which teams are growing or impactful. My intuition is mixed: Products drive revenue, so product teams should be the most impactful right? Quite easily not so as tooling teams can also scale massive impact at companies like these.

The first step I took is to reach out to my contacts at the company. I have multiple, but none of them seem to have a strong opinion, often indicating their own limited view across the company.

How should I think about this? Is there public data I can tap, or should I just get in wherever and transfer later?

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    Staff Eng @ Google, Ex-Meta SWE, Ex-Amazon SDM/SDE
    2 months ago

    AWS is very different from the rest of the company. There will be core infrastructure things, but a lot of teams are building products that are sold to customers. Revenue is strong. It just is a different beast than the rest of the company.

    Retail will also continue driving revenue, but it is a very entrenched business that moves more slowly. Often a pretty big team might own a widget on a detail page, and are responsible for massive traffic and can move metrics a lot with small changes, so it’s high pressure, but can get solid recognition if you move those metrics the right way. Retail is not sexy, it is the warhorse that, along with AWS now, funds everything else.

    I worked in Video, and while it was fun, I don’t totally understand why the company is pouring so much money into content. Maybe it’s the hope of ad revenue, even from prime members?

    There are some very expensive risks being taken, like Kuiper. It will be a huge success or get shuttered.

    I think that your manager is more important than any of this, so finding a handful of things that sound interesting, and gauging by the manager through informational chats or during the interview process (or after if you have an offer) is going to matter a lot more.

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    The people at Amazon I know who are having the best time (good team, decent scope, solid work-life balance) are almost all at AWS so take that for what you will. AWS is also the core profit mechanism of the company, so I imagine that helps with layoffs as well...?

    At the end of the day, Amazon is gigantic and even a subsection of it like AWS will have like 1,000+ engineering teams so I wouldn't worry too much about figuring out the "best" team. Just get referrals to the teams you're most interested in, try to get a good read on the team during the interview, and follow your gut.

    I'm releasing my behavioral interview course later this week which will cover great questions to ask to deduce team quality signal, but in the meantime, check these out:

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      Senior Software Engineer [OP]
      Upstart
      2 months ago

      Great point! A contact of mine at AWS also suggested reading the latest annual shareholder letter, which agrees with your point by specifying that AWS has had higher rev growth than other orgs, and even gets somewhat more granular than the AWS level.

      Looking forward to the behavioral course!

Amazon.com, Inc. is an American multinational technology company which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, and much more. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, it has been referred to as "one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world".
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