A college graduate’s decision between Amazon and Microsoft

Alexander Nguyen
3 min readDec 11, 2021


When I graduated from NYU in 2019, I had new grad software engineer offers from both Amazon and Microsoft. It seems easy for anyone to make a choice where they want to work doesn’t it? Just take a look at the offer details and make a decision on who’s compensating more. The issue I had was that when Microsoft gave me an offer, I already started my job at Amazon for a month. Here’s why I regret turning down my Microsoft offer.

When I was given my Microsoft offer at the time, I plainly told my recruiter the compensation numbers Amazon was already giving me. The recruiter came back with an offer that was 20% more than what I was being paid at Amazon. Microsoft offered 66% more stock WITH an evenly distributed stock schedule over 3.5 years instead of 4, an Employee Stock Discount program that I didn’t have at Amazon, a 50% 401k Match compared to the 6% match at Amazon, a larger base salary, and a larger sign on bonus. But I was naiive and weighed my 1 month experience as more valuable than all of that.

My goal was to start my career as a software engineer and build it as much as possible. I was worried about being 1 month behind jumping ship and possibly being denylisted from ever applying to Amazon again. Of course anything permanent is a huge worry for new grads. But my commitment to stay at Amazon didn’t just put me 1 month behind, it put me 1 year behind. I left the company for Microsoft a year later.

Amazon was exhausting for me and I spent more hours working on things I didn’t know how to do which put more stress on me than I was able to handle. When another Microsoft recruiter came back a year later and offered me another chance to interview, I put myself through the loop. Not sure if the interviews would be tougher or not, I just hoped I still had the interviewing skills needed to meet the bar. Luckily, I was given another offer! I was completely excited and imagined it to be more than what my new grad offer was, except it wasn’t…

The offer given to me was more than my current Amazon compensation but less than what I was given as a new grad. I was shocked and did some research that this was the norm based off my preliminary research on blind and Levels.fyi. Bringing up my previous offer at Microsoft was not a legitimate counter offer and the recruiter wouldn’t budge. Do I pass up on this opportunity again and wait until I’m promoted, or do I settle for less to start a new journey for myself sooner.

I settled for a 4 year stock schedule, with half the initial signing bonus offered to me initially. The 401k at Amazon was forfeit and so were my remaining stock options.

Joining as a junior developer, I completely reset my path to promotion. The year I spent at Amazon could have been dedicated to getting promoted at Microsoft. I needed extra time to learn a new code base and start fresh with my new co-workers as a junior engineer. Most of my experience at Amazon weren’t transferable and now I have to build a new relationship with another manager to show that I am capable as an mid-level engineer.

As much as I would like to regret my decisions on which companies to choose, I have to live with my decisions that this is where I am now. I’m a lot more comfortable in my role at Microsoft and can only think about making progress the traditional way. Yes, I do think about interviewing else where to get “up-leveled” but I think my own shenanigans have put me so far behind my peers who started after I did and already been promoted to SDE II that I’m just focused on making sure I actually have the experience of being a mid-level engineer.

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Alexander Nguyen

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