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Grow Your Tech Career at Amazon

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".

Choose a project for "most challenging project" question for me?

Software Development Engineer II at Amazon profile pic
Software Development Engineer II at Amazon

My latest position was SDE II at Amazon, backend. I was laid off. I have not worked for 2 years. I find myself struggling with which project I should talk about in my interviews. Here are the projects I had worked on.

  1. A project where I investigated how to create and analyze the right data to optimize something. This was at a previous company where we shipped highly technical software, and the software had nothing to do with the web. The project wasn't one where I built much of anything; the result was just an independent Python script. The technicals were in the weeds though. But I would say I spent more time on the project than the work needed me to.
  2. A React Native side project. I did not launch the app, but the app worked on testing. My favorite project, as I learned a lot about planning, learning a new stack, and structuring my code. However, it's a side project and the stack is not related to what I mainly worked on at Amazon.
  3. My 1st project at Amazon. A high level design of the project was done for me. The project was very simple technically: move a module from one service to another to support the deprecation of the former service. There were some choices of wiring where data goes in the new setup, but that was about it for the complexity. I worked with another team to discuss the data flow. I also broke down the project into small parts for a new grad SDE to do. I personally saw through the project to its successful launch.
  4. My 2nd project at Amazon. I was working under another SDE II and he was the one who had done all the design, assigned me the parts to work on, and drove the successful launch. I remember the end business product well, but what I do not remember is the key high level code logic behind the scenes that make it work. As a consequence, even though I remember some parts of what I personally had worked on, I cannot drive a coherent narrative about them.
  5. My 3rd project at Amazon. It was the first project at work I designed from scratch. I communicated with the technical project manager to get clear the requirements and thought about all the cases to cover to make a working design. I do not remember all the details of the cases I needed to cover but I can talk about them at a high level. The biggest downside of this project is that it was cancelled mid-implementation since another project it depended on was cancelled for reasons outside of my control. So this project never launched.
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How to deal with more responsibility in the team and grow as a leader?

Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] at Amazon profile pic
Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] at Amazon

I joined Amazon for my first tech job as an SDE I and was able to promote to SDE II after 1 year. Fast forward to 9 months after promotion, My onboarding buddy who has been here ever since the team was founded is leaving. I ended up being the SME for one of the team's projects that makes a lot of $$$, which means a lot of eyes are on it. Although we do have a couple SDE IIIs on the team, they've been more focused on other equally important projects and don't have too much knowledge on this one. I'm starting to feel the weight of the extra responsibility as I often get pinged for escalations, have a lot more say in meetings, and invited to meetings for the roadmap of this project. There was also a recent reshuffle in the Product side and I've become their go-to guy for anything related to this project.

Having joined the industry less than 2 years ago, I kind of feel like things are really moving fast and I'm a bit overwhelmed to be honest. I was still thinking on how to increase my technical depth after promotion, and I'm not even sure if this is a good situation to be in or not. But at the same time, I do want to overcome this and perhaps turn this situation into a growth opportunity.

In my forte review, there were many comments on the expectation of me evolving into a mature leader for the team and this feels like an opportunity to work on that. I'm kind of confused on what direction to take at the moment. What would be some things I can do to make the most of this opportunity and grow my leadership skills? I feel like before all this happened, I was focusing on growing my technical skills and didn't really pay atttention much to the leadership side.

This might be a vague question, so I just wanted to see if anyone has been in this situation and have any advice on how to best navigate this or share similar experiences

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Should I go to a pre-seed startup or a mid-size non-tech company?

Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon

I have two offers and am having trouble deciding which one to take

Company A: Non-Tech company with ~1500 employees. They have a cloud computing division to manage their infrastructure

  • Position: Cloud Engineer (AWS)
    • Work would involve provisioning AWS infrastructure, performing maintenance, upgrades, optimizations, migrating environments to the cloud, etc
  • Base Salary: 135k
  • Bonus: 10k (if performance is met)
  • Location: New Jersey
  • Work Style: 2 days in the office

Company B: Pre-seed stage startup (2 - 10 employees)

  • Position: Software Engineer
    • Work would involve building new features for the startup including categorizing and ranking trivia questions by difficulty, etc
  • Base: 110k
  • Relocation: 5k
  • Equity: 1%
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Work Style: 2 days in the office
  • Founder Background: Used to work in Big 3 consulting. His/her last position was scaling a Series A startup
  • Pre-Seed funding: $2 million
  • Targeted seed funding: $3 - $5 million
  • Traction: The app was launched 5 months ago and has acquired 45,000 users. The business used to be a marketplace and that's when they raised their pre-seed round ($2 million). Now the business is a trivia app for college students

What am I looking for?

  • I'm not sure. My top preference is career progression/learning ability and given I don't have a family the startup option does make sense, however ...
  • I greatly value stability
    • I've been through the tech interview process for many iterations now and it is really tiring to have to start over every year due to internships/bad-culture/layoffs/potential startup failing
    • Being unemployed for ~10 months now, I would say the majority of my interviews were for startup companies so I feel that getting an offer at a non-startup company is more rare/valuable (maybe?)

Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you!

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