Last year I was able to get into Amazon Web Services. It was a long journey to get there, but worth it to now be where I’ve wanted to end up for over 10 years. Here I will discuss How I got a job at Amazon !
For those who just want the ‘how did you do it’ part – scroll down. You can give my journey story a miss 🙂
For me it started over 10 years ago, when I was running my own business. I made a decision after many successful years that it was time to up-skill and then sell the business – and move to the Enterprise space where I could work in networking as my full time focus, rather than all the other parts that are also needed when you are a director of a company. So I started working towards Software and Networking qualifications, to go alongside my years of skills that had been learnt on the job.
Over the following years I completed my Microsoft MCITP/MCSE, Cisco CCIE (RS) and Comptia CTT+ (technical training). I was then also in a position to sell the business, so I completed that and moved into the workforce as an employee for the first time in many years (working in 2 IT roles prior to Amazon). I enjoyed this, and continued to learn and certify as I gained more exposure into the Large Enterprise space (completing CCIE #2 (SP), Juniper JNCIP SP, VMWare VCP6, AWS SA Assoc and Networking Specialist, as well as a Master of IT in Cloud and Virtualisation along the way).
The more I worked and learnt in these large scale spaces, the more I became focused on cloud as being where I would end up. Of the cloud providers – to me AWS stood out above the others, so a move to AWS became the long term career goal.
My LinkedIn was kept current, and it turned out that an AWS employee whom I used to know many years ago contacted me about a role via a LinkedIn message. This role was for an NDE position (Network Development Engineer), something I thought was on the mark for my skills and background. Nope – i tried a few times but could not get past round 1. Certainly a hit to the ego, so i took a break and studied more into the AWS process and interviewing. At the time i was working more as a Solution Architect than a NDE, so in time i applied for a Solution Architect (SA) role. Got further with that application (round 3) – but again not good enough.
So back to the drawing board, and time to re-think what was wrong. I didn’t pursue it any further at that stage, and just continued to work and learn where I was. Then in June 2020 I was contacted by one of the Amazon recruiters – to discuss a position which I hadn’t read about before called the SysDE – System Development Engineer (with a networking background needed). This role combined software coding (python), automation and network engineering skills into one job, acting like a bridge between the NDE’s and SDE’s (software development engineers). Maybe – just maybe – I had found the right role for me? The result was yes ! I got through at last 🙂
Having now been onboard for 4 months I can say the goal was a worthy one. I’m in the Sydney, Australia office and work with teams locally, in the US and Ireland on some amazing projects that are of a scale beyond what I could ever have imagined. For me the career promotion opportunities and future of working with AWS is awesome, and I look forward to being here for many years to come – continuing to be involved in the future of cloud in an incredible place to work !
How did you do it ? [SysDE]
#Tip1 – My key takeout of the Amazon interview process is that when you interview, you need to be AT the level and skill and knowledge for the role WHEN you interview. I would have been able to learn whats needed for either of the previous roles very quickly (as proven by my track record, study and experience), but Amazon doesn’t take into account the potential for you to step up to the level needed. You either have the experience and can answer the technical questions then and there, or you don’t.
#Tip2 – Study the LPs and make sure you have multiple examples for each from your experience. There are many samples from the different LPs and the type of question you might get on the net – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-interview-amazon-leadership-david-anderson/ is one example, but there are lots more you will find by searching. The full list is https://customerthink.com/the-14-leadership-principles-that-drive-amazon/ Be prepared ! Its not about having ready answers, rather having the BEST answers you can from your past experience ready to show off who you are.
#Tip3 – Chose the RIGHT role for you. As happened with me i went through a few before I ended up in the right place – its a lot simpler if you align to your CURRENT skillset and experience. There are so many different roles you can go for – NDE, SysDE, SDE, TPM, Sales, Solution Architect, Security, DC engineer, HR, team manager – the list goes on. Just get it right for you.
#Tip4 – Make sure you WANT to work at AWS, and are ready. Amazon is a great place to work if you are (a) able to find your own way through all the tasks that need to be done, guides that need to be read, and people that need to be followed up for information and (b) self motivated to get the job done and keep driving forward. I have read of many people who have joined Amazon only to find it wasn’t good for them – if you are used to being told what to do and given a list of tasks to step by step through, Amazon may not be the place to work.
Amazon interviews are normally 3 rounds. All rounds with Amazon interviewers include a question or 2 on Leadership Principal (LPs) – done in STAR style questions. For the SysDE (networking) role it was as follows (all virtual due COVID19 in 2020):
Round1. Online programming challenge questions + Linux MCQ (note this is only for AU/IE. US has a longer phone screen covering round 1 and 2 at the moment)
Round2. Phone screen: LPs + technical [this was networking topics for my role]
Round3. ‘onsite’ (5 back to back 1 hour interviews in 1 day) – different interviewers from the AWS team covering coding, technical, Linux OS, LPs (every round) and system design. Note what is tested on the technical rounds varies based on the role that is being applied for (e.g. networking, database etc).
Amazon runs a 2/5 interview response process, where they aim to get back to you in 2 working days after round 1/2, and 5 working days after round 3, with an yes or no. I didn’t find this to be the case for the previous roles (taking a lot longer to reply with the NO), but for this SysDE process that was maintained.
There is a heap of online learning guides, and I think I took/read most of them ! Some of the best I used were:
Practice Technical Interviews (Coding/System Design)
Amazon Interview Training
Coding Skills [SysDE/SDE]
(I took the SDE courses – which are well above the requirement for the SysDE role, but great learning ! For the NDE they are not really a focus, but for the SDE role of course they are critical skills)
(note this is a guide for the certifications – note they are NOT required to get through the interviews)
Linux [SysDE only]
Amazon Story (just for background)
For other content – just search ‘how i got a job at amazon’ in your search engine. There are lots of pages with things to learn.
If decide a role in Amazon is right for you, then good luck and enjoy the journey ! Hopefully some of the above notes can help you be prepared and gain a position in what I think is the best place in the world to work 🙂