exit sign by @theandrewteoh on Unsplash

Working at Amazon has been nothing short of a blessing this past year and a half. Not only has it provided well for my family, but I've met amazing people, and grown substantially in my software engineering skills. Alas, it's time for me to leave. This post serves as a way to organize my reasons as well as encourage others in similar situations to make the leap of faith.

The return to the office

I don't fully understand why Amazon is choosing to pull their employees in to their offices, but regardless, in order to keep my job, I would have to move to Seattle or Sunnyvale where my team is approved to work. I'm not opposed to in person work despite agreeing with what Jacob Kaplan-Moss had to say about this, but moving to work for Amazon does not work for me.

Although Amazon gives me six months and a moving stipend to accomplish this, it still means uprooting my family. We have extended family nearby where we currently live and struck gold with how amazing our church is. Moving would jettison the former and re-roll the latter.

In a sense then, Amazon's return to office campaign was itself a dealbreaker for me. It is best for my family to stay exactly where we are and the promise of an exciting career won't entice me away from that. I'll happily take a lower tier job if it means we can keep the treasure we have right now.


Even if there was an office I could commute to, I'd still have to reckon with the massive burnout I was experiencing due to stalled career growth.

The part of my career I wanted to develop the most was crossing the gap between mid level and senior. This gap is characterized by needing to improve the softer engineering skills that are typically hidden from non-seniors e.g. clarifying requirements, making tradeoff decisions, end to end ownership of projects, etc.

I sought mentors to help in this area, but the mentors I did find both in and out of the vicinity of my org chart sub-tree, weren't able to provide meaningful direction. Looking back at it I think many of the individuals were inflicted with the Curse of Knowledge because what I needed to learn was definitely explainable, but those I sought help from were so good that they forgot what it was like to learn these skills anew.

I eventually found a mentor that fit me perfectly, and these skills skyrocketed as a result; however, the year long struggle to conquer these weaknesses wore me down.

When the return to office policy unfolded, I took it as an opportunity to find employment elsewhere that had a culture better suited to my learning needs, and work style.

What's next?

I'm considering work in the full stack Typescript space. Despite working in an Android/Kotlin/Java stack at Amazon, I never dropped full stack typescript development. Typescript has a special place in my heart and I love the buzz around its ecosystems these days. If you want to work together, feel free to contact me at ryanclementshax@gmail.com!

I'm also taking December off because I can! I have lots of fun things I want to do with the family and in open source. I was originally considering ending employment at the turn of the new year, but the family won't remember dad white knuckling it to the next job, they'll remember him taking off a month to have fun.


I hope something in this resonated with you. If you find yourself in a similar situation, don't be afraid to make the leap of faith!

If you take anything away from this, it should be to prioritize family and mental health, and recognize that sometimes your company doesn't fit your needs. No paycheck can make up for that.

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