A Redditor describing himself as “an old man who has been at Amazon way too long” shared a controversial piece of advice for incoming interns Tuesday.
“You are smart, driven, and are no doubt going to be successful in whatever you do, which is why I want to urge you to STAY THE F— AWAY from Amazon when it comes time for you to leave school and jump into the workforce,” this person wrote on a Reddit forum.
The anonymous commentor goes on to critique Amazon’s work-life balance, complicated stock offerings, and performance review process.
The Reddit post has since caught fire, attracting more than 500 comments, some negative and some positive.
The detail in the post suggests the person has at least some knowledge of the inner workings of Amazon, although we were not able to verify the commenter’s identity or current employment status.
The person wrote:
You know that big pile of stock that they promise you in your offer letter? You are going to vest around 20% of that in your first two years there.
Now, the average employee stays at Amazon for LESS than two years, so when you do the maths to compare offers from various companies go ahead and factor that in. The entire system is designed to bring you in, burn you out, and send you on your way with as little equity lost as possible.
That signing bonus they offer you to offset the fact that they give you jack shit for stock your first two years? If you leave before two years is up you actually end up OWING Amazon money. You have to pay it back on a pro-rated scale. It’s not a bonus, it’s more like a payday loan.
Two years is also the amount of time you have to get promoted from Software Development Engineer 1 to Software Development Engineer 2 before they put you on a PIP and kick your arse out the door. If you are an SDE-1 at Amazon your job is in every way temporary, you are basically participating in a two year job interview for an SDE-2 role.”
PIP is an abbreviation of “Performance Improvement Plan,” a three-month track that Amazon uses for employees it thinks are under-performing. Past accounts of PIPs make it seem like the process is essentially a way to get workers to resign, though there have been stories about similar things happening at other big tech companies.
Some of the comments on the post were positive, noting that interns may have a good reason to work at Amazon, even if it’s only a short run.
“Amazon can be an asset, however,” writes amazonwhy. “In IT, it’s very common to jump from position to position while initially climbing the ladder. For some, Amazon is the first opportunity they have to add one of the big 4 on their resume. After that, the opportunities are endless.”
Others say that Amazon’s work culture varies widely from team to team.
“It’s certainly bad in some parts of the company, but team culture is vastly different across multiple organisations,” theeggman84 writes. “I work 8 hours a day and go home feeling happy, and no one’s had a problem with those hours. I’ve been on 4 different teams in 3 different orgs, and all of them have been fine.”
Amazon declined to comment on this story, but it has said in the past that its attrition rates are in line with the rest of the tech industry.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.