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My journey to landing my dream job at Amazon

arelyskywalker profile image Arely Miramontes Rodríguez ・5 min read

I recently landed my dream job at Amazon Web Services as a software engineer, and I’m here to tell you about my journey!

I’ve joined a lot of local and online communities to help with my career development, and one of the most popular topics I see involves people asking for tips and tricks to get interviews with a FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) or Big N company. Questions I see often include:

  • “What type of resume does Google look for?”
  • “What do I need to know in order to apply to Amazon?“
  • “Is there a better chance of me getting in if someone refers me?”

The truth is, there is no secret for landing an interview with a FAANG company; all it takes is time, experience, and dedication.

I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Computational Mathematics and Computer Science at a non-prestigious university. You will hear a lot of people say that a bachelor’s degree gives you a better advantage than being a bootcamp grad when applying for jobs. While this is true to an extent, I believe anyone can land a job anywhere they want (even a Big N company) with good software engineering experience.

I didn’t try to aim for a Big N company right after I graduated. I knew how to code, but I wasn’t comfortable enough to jump into real-world problem solving, and there is nothing wrong with that! I started looking for internships at great local companies and landed a developer internship with an awesome company.

My mentors there taught me how to refactor, comment, and document my code. These skills were never stressed nor even taught as important in college, but now I understand why it’s done in the real world. I learned how to better communicate with other software engineers, UI/UX engineers, and designers. I came out of that internship as a stronger developer. If it weren’t for these mentors, I would not be the same developer I am today, and I really appreciate them for that.

One of my best pieces of advice for aspiring developers is to take an internship if you can – you’ll be amazed by how much you’ll grow and learn from being mentored by great engineers.

After my internship, I moved on to become a full stack developer for a small company in the same city. I was the only developer on the team, which was scary at first, but this is where I proved to myself that I could be a capable leader and strong engineer. My skills grew during my time there and I gained much more experience, which made me motivated to advance my skills even more. Not just for me, but for my team.

I started building an online portfolio and making projects ranging from small and simple to large and complex. I wanted to learn more code, more frameworks, more libraries, and stay up-to-date with the latest technologies.

After a year at that company, I took another great job where I stayed for two amazing years. This is where I had my first agile environment experience.

I quickly learned how to work with a team of developers. This opportunity allowed me to expand my skills even further. Tasks such as knowing how to pair program, take criticism from code reviews, refactor code based off code reviews, give peers feedback, share ideas, and resolve merge conflicts. This helped me grow to be an even stronger engineer who is technically adept and still a team player.

I was finally ready to start something new in my career, and with four years of experience under my belt, I was ready to apply at Amazon. I spent about two hours after work building projects, taking classes on data structures & algorithms, practicing Leetcode problems, and attending meetups.

Yet, I felt something was still missing. I had spent so much time practicing and reviewing computer science topics that I forgot that soft skills are just as important. You want your future coworkers to want to work with you every day. Sell yourself and be confident - especially if you love the culture of the company you are applying for.

In every interview, you will get behavioral questions, and the best way to answer them is using the STAR method. I spent some time with a friend and in front of a mirror answering interview questions. I would get feedback to improve my hand gestures, speech, and even my posture. Am I flailing my arms a lot when I’m explaining something? Am I saying “um” way too often? Take some feedback from your fellow peers to improve your behavioral skills. This will get you a step ahead in your interview.

Finally, the time came to fly to my on-site interview with Amazon. I was incredibly nervous, but I finally felt ready. It was a four hour interview that was very technical and behavioral. I walked in confidently, with coffee and smile, and walked out just the same. I told myself that even if I didn’t get an offer, I was very proud of myself for how far I had come. And I am a true believer that self-confidence is the key to successful interviews.

A few days later, I received my offer and I am elated! All my hard work has finally paid off, and I’m feeling more confident than ever as an engineer!

I hope my journey inspires you for the process of landing your dream job, even if it isn’t a Big N company.

Before I sign off, I want to share some key takeaways from this journey:

  • Keep building stuff, even if you don’t do it every day. Never stop learning!
  • Give yourself a mental health check; it’s good to take a few days off from applying for jobs and grinding Leetcode.
  • If you’re not in a great financial struggle or you’re a new grad or junior dev, I’d definitely recommend starting with an internship to gain valuable skills and have access to mentors. Internships aren’t required, but it’s an easy way to get real experience while at the same time receiving advice and training from an expert.
  • Get that sweet experience! For real, join coding meetups, find a mentor, learn how to work in an agile environment. Community involvement is a huge plus on your resume!
  • Remember to practice your soft skills.
  • If you get rejected, don’t see it as a failure, see it as a way to get better. Ask for feedback from your recruiters/interviewers, peers, etc.
  • Be confident and believe in yourself ALWAYS!

TL;DR:

  1. Graduated college with my BS in Computational Mathematics and Computer Science
  2. Got a summer internship - learned a ton and got mentored
  3. First full-time dev job
  4. Full stack dev on a team - learned agile environment, pair programming, git, code reviews
  5. Built projects, learned new languages, frameworks, etc.
  6. Practiced Leetcode, behavioral questions, took classes (Udemy, FCC, etc.)
  7. Applied to Amazon
  8. Profit

If anyone has had a similar journey, I would love to hear about it! So many of you great devs out there inspire me everyday.

Happy hacking!

Discussion

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kraci profile image
Jakub Kracina

"If you get rejected, don’t see it as a failure, see it as a way to get better. "

This is so important! A lot of people take this as total failure and think they're useless. Please, just take this as opportunity to find out what skills you are missing and learn them. Or maybe you're just not perfect fit for what they are looking for right now.

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Arely Miramontes Rodríguez Author

Agreed! There are reasons to why they didn't pick you, there's nothing wrong with learning from the experience and improving yourself. You're not a failure, you just need to find your missing puzzle piece. :)

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Peter Sofronas

The #1 issue I've had with this is never being told why you fail. I've been on about a dozen final round interviews, and after every "Thank you for applying, however" email, I was always told "No feedback". This is the biggest reason why people see rejection as failure, because 99% of the time it doesn't show you why you need to approve. It's entirely possible to do everything right perfectly and still not get an offer, depending on who else is interviewing at the same time.

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Alexis Ortiz Ojeda

Congrats on the new job! I am interested in how your on site went? Was it a lot of whiteboard Data Structures & Algorithms? Or reviewing a take home test? Or coding on the spot? Or what was the on site process like? Also what type of classes did you take for DS & A knowledge, online courses? In person? Thank you!

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Arely Miramontes Rodríguez Author

Yes, it is very Data Structure & Algorithm heavy!

I initially had a behavioral & technical phone interview. First half hour was answering behavioral questions and the second half was solving 2 coding challenges using their online coding tool.

My on-site had 4 rounds, for the first 3 rounds the first 20 minutes were asking behavioral questions based on Amazon's Leadership Principles. The last 40 was spent on solving some problems they give you. They give you the option of either coding it on the white board or on a laptop, but you can't just get away with pseudocode. They will actually test out what you code on the whiteboard. Luckily, I practiced a lot with whiteboarding and timing myself, so I was able to get used to coding without the help of an editor!

My last round was the "Bar Raiser" and this one was definitely hard. The purpose of this round is to push yourself to see how far you can go, both in a behavioral question as well as a technical. I would say it was a Hard Level Leetcode problem.

For my Data Structures & Algo classes, I took a couple in college, but to refreshen myself I took Colt Steele's course in Udemy. It was honestly the best class I've taken on D&Algo. I definitely recommend it!

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javon27

Welcome to the family! As an SDE Amazon for 5 months now (feels way longer) I feel empowered to affect the culture for the best. My experience leading up to Amazon is not too dissimilar to yours; I didn't have an internship, but I did software work on campus. Also, I had to push myself to be better at my craft because there was no one to guide me. Amazon is my first experience with Agile, but it's such a breath of fresh air.

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Arely Miramontes Rodríguez Author

Thank you! I'm so exited to be an Amazonian 😊

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Zac Haluza

Congrats, Arely! Looks like you definitely put the work into getting to where you are now.

Would you say that finding an internship (in NYC) is still a practical route for someone who's already a few years out of college, like myself? I started teaching myself almost a year ago, and getting that first bit of professional experience is definitely the biggest obstacle. Curious as to whether any of your previous coworkers went a similar route.

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arelyskywalker profile image
Arely Miramontes Rodríguez Author

Yes, it is definitely possible! I would checkout Glassdoor, or if you're already in NYC, checkout some local meetups. There's a lot of events that bring Startups to look for potential junior devs and interns. Networking is a great way to get your foot in the door! :)

This company sets up a very similar event, I'd definitely check them out!
theround.com/city/nyc

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zhaluza profile image
Zac Haluza

Thanks, appreciate the advice! Definitely agree about the importance of networking — the people I’ve met so far have helped me narrow my focus and learn a lot more about the industry.

One recommendation I’ve heard from a few friends is to find a way to stand out from other developers who are starting out, so I’m taking some time to build up my UI and animation skills, since these seem to be areas that a lot of developers ignore! (Having some motion design experience doesn’t hurt either)

Thanks for the link to The Round too! Looks like they’ll be here next spring — regardless of where I am then, it’ll definitely be worth checking out.

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Cristina Ruth

Arely, congratulations on getting a job at Amazon! 😊 I agree 100% that internships really give you a valuable learning experience!

Does this mean we won't see you at Dev Together anymore? 🥺😭

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arelyskywalker profile image
Arely Miramontes Rodríguez Author

Thank you!! 😊Yes 😭I'd still be happy to give remote portfolio/resume reviews though!

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Cristina Ruth

Aww, at least you won't be fully gone. The last one one you sent was very detailed and well-written 😊 👏

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Jose Ross Barredo

Hello! I was looking around getting tips on how to get in Amazon and stumbled upon your awesome article. I was just recently contacted by a recruiter from Amazon and long story short, Im about to take an online coding exam. Any tips for the behavioral interview? Thanks!

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Stephen Leyva (He/Him)

Your recruiter should prepare ya with this, but I’d say the STAR process is huge! Also, always reference your achievements as opposed to answering “We did such and such” answer “I did such and such”. Lastly, hammer those LPs in interview prep! Good luck!!

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Sandeep Kumar

Hey! Thanks for sharing your journey. That was inspiring. You equipped yourself with the necessary skills before applying and cleared. That was awesome! Wishing you all the very best! :)

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Chris C

Congrats Arely 😊

Good luck in the big City. Those internships give valuable early experience!

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Harriet

Congratulations and hope you are loving the role!

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pitonic

Congratulations.
Your journey just started.

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Brent Engelbrecht

Congratulations on getting the job. I had my AWS interview yesterday. Now just waiting to hear the result.

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Arely Miramontes Rodríguez Author

Thank you, and good luck to you!

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Ben Fox

Congrats and nice writeup!

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thehellrider

wow amazing really inspiring cheers

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Congrats on the journey Arely, seems like you did all the right things to land yourself where you are.

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Abdur Rahman

Congratulations!

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Gerardo Tarragona Serna

Congrats thats a big step on your career! I'm definitely going to take note on your tips! Greetings from Sonora, México

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Alban X

call it dream job. People should stop posting these kind of overrated hype articles. I have been working at aws 1 year now and it is far away for the dream job. My past jobs have been much better.

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javon27 profile image
javon27

Why not change teams? Sometimes you just have to find the team that matches your personality. Also, let someone (managers, trusted peers, etc) know how you're feeling. Chances are, you may not be alone, and it might make a difference.

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Sean undefined 👾

Hey, congrats on the job! Soft-skills are incredibly important, thanks for sharing this advice, I'm sure plenty of people will benefit from it.

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Raja Asyraf

Thanks for sharing! I guess with everything you mentioned above will absolutely help any of us to join a better company.

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gajjar darshit hasmukhbhai

Madam I have good skill on devlopment and can I move competitive programming or master in USA ?

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alina_alamzeb profile image
Alina

Hey!

I read your article and it's so inspiring. More power to you girl!

Can you please list down the resources that you used during this time?

Thanks,

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Usama Raudo

Can you guide me on how to sell on Amazon?

As i am really willing to learn to sell on amazon and start a dropshipping store!

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keeprock profile image
Info Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community. View code of conduct
Night & Day

I've got a legitimate question - is being hot help or hamper your chances of getting into serious software business? I mean, does anybody prejudging you for not being smart enough at a first sight, or giving you a different treatment of some kind or whatever :)

Thanks.

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Ben Halpern

This is highly inappropriate for the matter at hand. Please consider how uncomfortable this sort of comment can be when engaging professionally online.