Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

  www.llnl.gov
  www.llnl.gov
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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Reviews

Updated September 6, 2014
Updated September 6, 2014
160 Reviews
3.7
160 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Bill Goldstein
20 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • interesting colleagues, important work, good work life balance, great location in Northern California (in 16 reviews)

  • get to work with cutting edge technologies, very intelligent people (in 11 reviews)


Cons
  • Sometimes you have to deal with a whole lot of red tape and infrastructure (in 8 reviews)

  • Slow to change because of older employee base but they are changing (in 4 reviews)

More Highlights

23 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 4 people found this helpful  

    Five years in, still my dream job

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist  in  Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    I'm coming up on the second year after finishing my postdoc. My title is nothing fancier than "Computer Scientist". I have no stock options, no one drops by to give me an in-chair massage, and I have to pay for my own snacks.

    However, when I was talking to my director about how I'd be evaluated going forward, she had a simple answer: what was the impact I had, both on the wider field of computer science and the lab's mission.

    Within that remit, I've been given as much freedom as I can handle and significant, ongoing support in competing for resources. When I'm able to acquire resources (and that's not been a problem so far), I'm able to hire brilliant student interns and postdocs, buy equipment, and get significant time on some of the largest supercomputers in the world. I have access to research staff at Intel, AMD, IBM and Cray, as well as to the physicists who are trying to squeeze as much performance as they can out of our systems. I can attend the conferences I need to, whether foreign or domestic. And best of all, I can see the results of my research percolating back out into the community.

    If I were at a largish company in Silicon Valley, I expect my research would be far more practical (and much more aligned with corporate goals). If I was in academia, my work would necessarily be far more theoretical, as I wouldn't have ready access to the big machines. At the lab, I have the best of both worlds.

    On a more personal note: the people I work with are generally world-class researches in their area, and really nice. While there's the usual stress of competing for funding, we don't tend to compete against each other, so there's far more camaraderie than most academic departments. I'm finding out that the phrase "no one has tried that before" tends to follow me around, but I've never had a good idea dismissed out of hand.

    In short, I bump up against my own limitations much more than limitations imposed by the lab. As a scientist, I'm not sure I could ask for a better employer.

    Cons

    "Nimble" is not a word I would use to describe the lab. There is quite a bit of process in place, and trying novel approaches tends to run headlong into that process. I'm learning, though, that being persistent, friendly, persistent, responsive and persistent does eventually allow new science to be done, and subsequent ideas do tend to get implemented faster.

    The support staff we have tends to get cut first during downturns, as it's difficult to quantify how much time the scientific staff lose in dealing with budgets, travel, etc. That said, when I've asked for help, I've gotten it.

    I'm mostly supported by "soft money" and that's not going to change anytime soon. This does constrain how far out I can plan things like hiring, and it does focus my efforts more on winning the next grant rather than making software people will actually use.

    At a higher level, the Department of Energy is currently favoring fewer, larger projects over many smaller ones, which makes it difficult for younger scientists to get the experience they need to eventually run large projects.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Increasing the administrative staff would be a huge help.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Sep 15, 2014

    Thank you for offering up such a thoughtful review. It’s great to hear that you’re expected to make an impact, and given the freedom and support to make it happen. We will share your advice with ... More

  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    No better place to do high performance scientific computing in the world.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    For a scientist who wants to do research involving parallel simulation, the Lab is an amazing place to be. Some of the best computer scientists in the world work in Livermore Computing, and will help you write or optimize your codes to run efficiently on the biggest supercomputers using the latest technology. Very strong scientific culture, with frequent seminars from both local researchers and invited guests. The salaries are quite good, with much better job security than you'll find in industry. (Not absolute, but far less uncertainty.)

    The Lab also encourages work/life balance far more than almost any other comparable job. People exercise, leave at a reasonable hour to spend time with their families and have generous vacation and sick leave (including family sick leave) benefits.

    Cons

    The bureaucracy can be annoying at times, particularly surrounding travel. There's less academic freedom than at a university, as most research has to tie in to the Lab's mission in some way.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The funding structure and high overhead rates impose what I view as unnecessary limitations on collaboration and innovation. If I discover that someone in another organization has expertise that can significantly contribute to my project, getting a significant fraction of their time to work with me can be difficult or impossible, due to the high effort cost and long time frame of most funding opportunities. It would be great if we had some freedom to pursue useful and interesting research across the Lab with 10-20% of our time.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Mechanical Engineer

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer  in  Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    Work-life balance is very good, there are a lot of opportunities fro personal growth, Livermore is a great place to live!

    Cons

    Inconsistent work schedules across departments.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I would like to stress to management that the one lab approach would be better than the current way of doing business. Right now there is not a consistent work schedule, i.e. some departments are on a 9/80 work schedules and some are not.

    Recommends
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  5.  

    LLNL is a place where you can chart your own career course.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist  in  Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    There are few arbitrary limitations on what you can do with your career. You don't have to have a PhD to achieve leadership roles or to seek independent project funding. It is possible to make major changes in your career, switching application domains or scientific disciplines. You are judged on the quality and timeliness of what you deliver, not where you went to school. There is a lot of flexibility in working hours and it is possible to achieve a wide range of work/life balance.

    Cons

    Funding is very dependent upon government agencies (DOE, DoD, DHS, etc.) that have had major internal turmoil lately. That, coupled with general federal government dysfunction in recent years, can lead to stressful funding fluctuations. LLNL is still trying to determine what its role should be in the 21st century as the emphasis on nuclear weapons continues to wane. This year the first ever non-nukie director was forced out because he didn't kowtow sufficiently to the weapons and lasers crowd that calls the shots here.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Reduce the paperwork and red tape to get anything accomplished. There are too many people on overhead in aspects of "program development" that accomplish little, while lower-level management builds the trust relationships that really bring in the business.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    lllnl

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Pros

    great place to work so far. Very free to do what you like once you get past the training

    Cons

    lots of training for safety and security

  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineer  in  Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Engineer in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a contractor for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Good respectful working environment. Grea for R&D work. Perfect for engineers and scientists.

    Cons

    Somewhat inflexible sometimes: Too much red tape.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Seek and consider new ideas.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great Place!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    The people, management and opportunities

    Cons

    Compensation, culture, flexibility, work-life balance, Education opportunities

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  9.  

    Fun place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Research Scientist  in  Livermore, CA
    Former Employee - Research Scientist in Livermore, CA

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Good entry level compensation. Lots of resources.

    Cons

    Location. People get moved away from lower priority projects to work on NIF.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    Great summer intern opportunity for lots of growth and learning.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Research Intern  in  Livermore, CA
    Former Employee - Research Intern in Livermore, CA

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    The location is amazing, pay is great, people are very friendly, amazing benefits.

    Cons

    Bureaucracy, which isn't much of an issue as an intern, but I'm told it gets worse the more you hit it. The secured campus makes it hard for any family to come visit your work.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue to provide the guidance to interns that you are!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great place to work with a lot of research and experiments

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Sr. Electronics Tech  in  Livermore, CA
    Former Employee - Sr. Electronics Tech in Livermore, CA

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    The lab has its up and down but overall it is a very good place to work. Great benefits, good pay and job security. There are a lot of fascinating researches at the lab and funding is somewhat stable considering the economy. I am fortunate to have worked at the lab and learn as much as I did. You can move around from job to different job as well as between organization within the Lab. In summary the Lab is a great place to work and there are all kind of people from every part of the country.

    Cons

    Slow advancement but that is true for all government work. I find it difficult to keep my motivation as it has become more of a grind each day. My desire to learn each day and more development work has become limited and decided to leave. Still it has been a blast working at the lab.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The lab is heading in the right direction. A lot of good management at the top.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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