Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Day 1 At Amazon. For real.

Amazon never grew up. It's been around since 1994, but it still thinks and acts like a start-up. So there's this saying: "It's still Day 1 at Amazon." Today was my Day 1. I had a nice short walk to work, met a few interesting people (many fewer software engineers than I expected).

Since I'm not sure how much information I'm permitted to disclose due to my NDA, I'll just say that Amazon is growing (and thus, hiring) like crazy, and they've got their onboarding down pretty efficiently. My "hiring class" was much larger than I expected would have been hired, there was another engineer hired onto my team in addition to me, and I really only had to wait in line or have one-on-one attention for maybe a half hour at most.

I met my team today -- the Personalization Platform team, responsible for "P13N" across Amazon and its subsidiaries. For the most part, they're guys about my age, most of whom seem to be interested in rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and other crazy stuff that I'm into. Not more than ten minutes after I got into our office space, I had already tentatively agreed to go on a day hike to Mount Saint Helens.

I'm a big fan of learning. That may be and often is new experiences -- like moving to Seattle when you've lived in Minnesota nearly all your life -- but it can also be forcing yourself to re-learn something from many years ago. I had been at LexisNexis for six years, and I like to think I became pretty fluent in the nomenclature. It was automatic that I knew what the terminology meant, the contexts in which they were used, the implications thereof, and so on. I forgot what it was like to be the new guy; I didn't give it much thought when the last few people to join our group had to learn what terms like FCRA, GLB, score overrides, et al, meant.

Now I get to be that newbie again, for better or for worse. Similarities versus personalization, ML, dimensionality reduction. I sat in our team meeting today trying to keep up as best I could, and I like to think that I did fairly well, actually.

In other news, I expect we may have our long-term housing locked down tomorrow. We've been looking all over the Magnolia, Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford and surrounding areas. I got word today that our application on a house in Magnolia went through; now we just have to decide if we're going to pull the trigger on it. It's a pretty decently sized house with a fenced in yard. It's a bit farther to Amazon than I would prefer, but I can't complain too much.

With many fond memories of my friends at LexisNexis, the adventure continues.

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