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I feel stuck at Amazon SDE 2 - What to do?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community9 days ago

I've been an SDE 2 at Amazon for the past 4 years, consistently exceeding expectations. However, I'm feeling burnt out, and it seems like support for my growth is lacking. I'm contemplating taking a career break, but uncertain about the current state of the industry and whether I'll find equivalent-paying jobs upon my return. What advice can you offer?



  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    9 days ago

    Having a job is incredibly valuable in the current market. I would explore all the other options before taking a long career break as I'm honestly unsure when the tech economy will improve. Here they are (and for all of these, talk to your manager about it):

    1. Take a shorter break - Instead of quitting your job, take a 1-2 week break, maybe more if you have more PTO saved up. Completely forget about work during your break (disable all your work apps and pretend Amazon doesn't exist 😁) and have as much fun as you possibly can. Catch up with family and friends you haven't seen in a while. Here's a great thread about how to properly take time off: "Is it good to take all your PTO at Google/FAANG companies or will you have issues getting a promotion?"
    2. Find work you enjoy and double down - I have talked with thousands of unhappy engineers (it's my job 😉), and it's generally uncommon that they actually hate 100% of what they do. There's generally some 5%+ sliver of their day-to-day that they enjoy whether it's working with a specific ultra-nice teammate, coding certain types of challenging problems (like tough bugs), or mentoring/helping others. Try to find that glimmer of light and expand it as much as you can by simply doing more of it. Check out this video: How To Discover Your Work Passions And Hatreds
    3. Make a more concerted push for SDE 3 - The Amazon SDE 2 -> SDE 3 promotion is notoriously difficult. I have seen engineers be stuck at SDE 2 for way longer than 4 years, and it's completely understandable for you to feel this way. However, if you have gotten Exceeds Expectations for 2 years, I doubt that your team isn't there to support you. The bar to ascend past the average band at Amazon is pretty high (especially in this economy), so you must be getting good feedback from your teammates and manager. I recommend these resources:
      1. Start off with this: "How to navigate the difficult SDE 2 to SDE 3 promotion?"
      2. Then dive way deeper with this: [Course] Nail Your Promotion As A Software Engineer
    4. Switch teams - This is the sort of "nuclear" option that's underneath the "super nuclear" option of quitting altogether. A lot of FAANG teams frankly don't have enough scope, and it's possible your current team is one of them. Here's a lot of great advice on switching teams: [Taro Top 10] How To Find A Good Engineering Team And Company

    All that being said, Amazon is one of the greatest tech companies in the world, and you are a pretty seasoned engineer as an SDE 2 with 4+ YOE. You are in a better position than 90%+ of engineers in this job market, even with a career break of 6-12 months. If you have tried everything and you still hate your work, definitely take that break. Nothing is more valuable than your mental health!

    Here's another good resource about managing burnout: "How do you avoid mental burnout and passion loss across a long career?"

  • 2
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    8 days ago

    Alex's answer is amazing.

    Any relationship involves two parties: you and the other side. The "blame" of a relationship not working out, e.g. your relationship with Amazon, is due to combination of the two parties.

    Where else have you worked in your career? My suggestion would be to switch companies out of Amazon. You'll probably work the same number of hours but see better rewards for it. I'm honestly not too bullish on Amazon as a workplace...

    BTW, Roman Y was in the exact same spot as you: 4 years as an SDE 2, and 9 years total at Amazon. See his answer here: How to navigate the difficult SDE 2 to SDE 3 promotion?

    • 0
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      Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
      Taro Community
      8 days ago

      Have worked at Adobe , Samsung apart from this

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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