Nick Dimitrov delivers the 2019 Commencement Keynote Address at Northeastern University Seattle

In December 2019, I had the distinct honor to deliver the Commencement Keynote Address at Northeastern University Seattle. I thought that sharing it here might be relevant. You may find out more about who I am, and possibly get a perspective or two that might help with your own life journey.

The video recording of the event and the text transcript of the speech are below. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/9NZR4lz-sHw

“Dean Thurman, Northeastern faculty and staff, fellow Huskies, and supporters — thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

As I look at you now; at all of you, a sea…


Throughout Amazon’s existence, Jeff Bezos has engaged in the practice of writing annual letters to Amazon’s shareholders. He includes each letter in Amazon’s annual report for the year, and discusses his business beliefs and overall philosophy in running Amazon. These letters provide a remarkable insight into Bezos’s vision, which has, in turn, defined the very essence of Amazon’s culture.

Below, I’ve listed links and brief summaries of all Amazon shareholder letters to-date, starting with the very first, cornerstone one from 1997.

Bezos’s wisdom and vision are on display in these letters. Therefore, most any business leader, from the entrepreneur to…


Someone recently asked me: “I have 1.5 years experience, and I got an offer at Amazon as SDE 1. How long approximately will it take for me to get promoted to SDE2? Should I wait another year and try again as SDE2?”

My advice would be to take the SDE1 role now and not wait for another year to reapply as an SDE2. Here is my rationale:

  1. When Amazon promotes an employee internally, she needs to demonstrate that she functions AT the new level. In contrast, when Amazon hires an external candidate, she needs to demonstrate that she functions ABOVE…


It’s brazen and unwise to claim that any corporation can rule the future. Over the long run, all incumbents lose (even the most powerful ones) and are eventually replaced by new incumbents, who also fall in time, etc.

Having said the above, it’s hard to imagine Amazon not continuing to rise over the next decade, at least. In the foreseeable future, Amazon will continue to prosper because it is on the right side of history as commerce (particularly in the US) continues to transition from an offline to an online consumption model.

As of Q3 2019, Amazon’s current TTM (trailing…


You could absolutely delay your Amazon start date for the right reasons. For example, as a former Amazon Hiring Manager, I have waited as long as 6 months and 7 months respectively for two different hires to join my teams. One of these future hires had visa issues and the other was coming off maternity leave.

The Amazon Hiring Bar is tough enough to raise and filling quality open roles sometimes could take as long as 6 or 12 months (and even longer for more senior-level roles.)

As a Hiring Manager, I wouldn’t bat an eye waiting for months, if…


Getting a job at Amazon is a tough (at times bordering on grueling) process that’s hard to distill to just five steps. Nonetheless, below are a few considerations to help you along.

1) Take on resolving challenging problems: My first piece of advice covers your corporate (or academic) career prior to your Amazon interview. Amazon practices behavioral interviewing, which means that your interview there will be a reader’s-digest version of your career to-date. If you have played it safe and have not gotten enough noteworthy accomplishments, Amazon will expose you during the interview. As the saying goes: “there’s nothing worse…


Several years ago, at the end of an all-hands meeting, an Amazon employee asked Jeff Bezos: “Jeff, what is the one thing you would change about Amazon?” Bezos responded with: “Speed. I would like us to move even more quickly.”

Amazon is known for moving fast. I can attest, first-hand, just how fast that is. In 2013, I was one of four Amazonians who started Amazon Game Studios (AGS) in a series of direct presentations to Jeff Bezos. Perhaps, the more interesting part of the story is that I presented to Bezos during my fourth week on the job. …


My first day at Amazon: a gloomy Seattle morning on January 7, 2013. I walked into Amazon’s Arizona building on 207 Boren Ave N to attend New Employee Orientation. I had no idea, at the time, that I was already late on a couple of deliverables that my future team had in store for me.

The New Employee Orientation (NEO)

I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and eager to learn. In all, there were about fifty of us, newbs clustered in groups of four, around tables in a semi-large conference room. I remember how much younger everyone else looked than me.

That morning the time flew…


Someone recently asked me: “I’m 32 and want to Start Programming. Can I ever Become good Enough to join Google, Microsoft, Amazon?

Yes. You can.

Google, Microsoft, or Amazon can certainly employ you as a Software Development Engineer (SDE,) if this is what you really want and are prepared to make sacrifices to achieve it.

I wouldn’t worry about your age. Instead, I would focus on developing the engineering skills and proficiency these companies expect from an SDE I hire (CS degree or equivalent certification — required; 1–2 years of relevant experience — preferred.)

Four Functional Technical Interview Areas

As you learn your new craft, I would invest…


The biggest difference is that Amazon is a customer-first company, while Google and Microsoft are technology-first companies. The biggest difference is that Amazon is a customer-first company, while Google and Microsoft are technology-first companies.

Amazon is a Customer-first Company

Amazon is customer-obsessed and its every decision starts and ends with the customer. In contrast, Google and Microsoft make decisions primarily based on the technology that their leadership and internal teams believe is important. Amazon will make a hypothesis, then quickly create a prototype to obtain live customer feedback about the hypothesis. When building the prototype, Amazon’s teams will often use non-scalable and “off-the-shelf” tech. The…

Nick Dimitrov

Entrepreneur. Immigrant. Ex-Amazon and Microsoft. ALAW.

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