Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Reviews

Updated June 22, 2015
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Bill Goldstein
12 Ratings

Pros
  • The work-life balance is quite good (in 28 reviews)

  • There are a lot of super smart people here that you can work with (in 15 reviews)

Cons
  • Beware: you will drown in red tape which comes first over science (in 13 reviews)

  • Slow to change because of older employee base but they are changing (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

34 Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (8)

    Great place to build a career

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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 (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I came hare first as a student, then I was a postdoc for a year, and I've been research staff at LLNL for 4 years now.

    The thing I love most about working here is the people. I work with incredibly smart, motivated people on a daily basis, both in my field (computer science) and out (physicists, chemists, and other scientists). I get to work on some of the largest supercomputers in the world, and I get to have an impact on the design of parallel applications that run on thousands or millions of processors at once. There just aren't that many places you can do that, and there are fewer where the experts in the field are right around the corner.

    The problems LLNL tackles are not only interesting, they're important to national security, which makes them more fulfilling in a lot of ways. Saving the world from asteroid attacks? People here are working on that. Exploring new states of matter and new ways to build predictive simulations for it? That too. Working in High Performance Computing will expose you to new fields and directions you just don't get out of a typical CS degree, and you'll gain valuable experience by working on projects like these. If you're not as interested in mission-driven science, LLNL supports lots of basic science research, too.

    If you are planning to build a career here, you should know that LLNL is a great place for entrepreneurial scientists. If you are interested in building something, and if you have the drive and motivation to stick with it, you can come here, start your own project, and build a team to pursue your vision. As an example: many labs do not allow postdocs to apply for their own funding, but at LLNL it is encouraged. Postdocs can apply for internal Lab-Directed Research and Development funding (LDRD), and once you're staff, you can pursue a number of external competitive proposal calls from the DOE Office of Science. There are also opportunities to get long-term programmatic funding for your project, if it turns out to be successful.

    Cons

    It can be difficult to figure out exactly how the lab works. If you're the type of person who comes in, talks to people, and asks a lot of questions, you'll quickly learn by word of mouth. As far as documentation for new employees, or a road map for your career, well, the lab's not so good at that. It's up to you -- the lab rewards initiative, but if you don't have a lot of it, you may quickly find yourself lost. The lab is working on this with efforts like a recent "Lab 101" course for early career employees. They take you through the funding landscape and the national priorities that drive the lab.

    Everyone at LLNL is busy, and hiring is slow. It's often hard to staff a new project if you get it funded, but the lab is working hard to change this, with more pipeline hires and fewer administrative hurdles to jump through.

    Advice to Management

    The "Lab 101" course should be mandatory material for new staff and postdocs. Hiring should be accelerated to staff new projects and to reduce the often slow spin-up time. New employees should be made aware of all the opportunities in front of them -- I think a lot of people come to LLNL and miss out.

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Feb 10, 2015

    It’s great to hear the perspective of someone who has worked here as a student, postdoc and staff researcher. Thank you for sharing. It’s also good to hear you’ve benefitted from the Lab 101 course ... More


  2. Awesome place to do good, interesting work

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

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Smart people, tough problems, and you can and are encouraged to work on the tough problems with smart people. Plus you get to actually pursue your own ideas.

    If you play it right, you can do research like being a professor, but without the teaching and administrative duties (though you will lack the unending cheap graduate student labor), but of course you need to find your own funding. Alternatively, you can do more directly programmatic work, and have constant steady work by trading away autonomy. You get the best of both worlds, AND can switch between the two! (Talk to your manager first though) PLUS you get 33% of the royalties from patents!

    Director BIll Goldstein is cool. He's a real scientist who keeps it real, and doesn't B.S. when it comes to admitting real problems.

    Cons

    Red tape -- but once you understand that the purpose of the red tape is not only to obey a plethora of federal laws, but also to increase the security (physical and information -- something lacking in many companies these days), then it's possible to accept it (or at least wade through it efficiently).

    Being tied to the fiscal year (Oct-Sep): money is saved up until the end of the fiscal year (in case Washington does something nuts like a shutdown), which means that you get underfunded, and at the end of the year suddenly a lot of money is up for grabs. Would be fine, but you not only have to spend it before the end of the year, but all items you purchase *MUST ARRIVE* before end of September. Makes buying big ticket items with long lead times hard, so spend big early!

    Benefits are seriously lacking. Cafeteria is terrible and overpriced. Gym is expensive and bare. But don't blame LLNL, blame Washington for under-investing in science.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to encourage more small, high-risk projects, especially those with the potential for commercialization. LLNL wins with royalties (you do too!), companies win with new technologies, USA wins with competitiveness.


  3. Helpful (1)

    Great Experience

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

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great experience and met many experts in field.

    Cons

    Finding housing was not easy when you are not from CA.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    Awesome Place to Start or Have a Career

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

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    This is a awesome place to work, with lots and lots of cool toys. They have some of the best computing resources in the world. Definitely a great place to learn HPC.

    Cons

    It's quite a process to get hired. The background check can take a while. And it takes a while to get all the security stuff in your head.

    Advice to Management

    I mean, I think it's an awesome place to work. I'd say they are doing everything right. I'd ask them to clean up the training process, but hey, that's the government for you.


  6. Helpful (1)

    Great people and cool work

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

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    State of the art projects and research, great and smart people to work with, and a relaxed but productive atmosphere

    Cons

    Bureaucratic- some things take longer than they should such as ordering supplies or having parts machined, no cameras allowed on site

    Advice to Management

    You have smart employees. They can learn how to use supplies in the machine shop to speed up progress on their projects.


  7. Helpful (1)

    PLS Physics Intern

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

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as an intern (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Loved it. I found my passion here working in the labs. I got into an internship thanks to an amazing alumni from my undergraduate university, so I didn't get in through one of their funded programs. I think it was better to do it "back door" because unlike the other interns, I actually got to do hands-on work. Spent 2 summers working and will be hired soon as a post-graduate research assistant. Their pay-scale for interns (non-scholar program) is based on number of units completed. I started there at $19/hr as a Junior, then $21/hr as a senior.

    Cons

    Red tape getting things like capacitors or screws (would take weeks, so we would just pick up from the local Ace). Access as an intern in nonproliferation was a pain; I couldn't get into some of the more interesting seminars because clearance, but oh well. Not much to complain about.


  8. Helpful (2)

    Terrific place to work!!

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

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    If you want to be a part of something bigger, doing something that has never been done to better the world, this is the place to work. And unlike somewhere in industry, everyone is so much more cooperative with each other. It's very inspiring.

    Cons

    May work for a long time and the project doesn't pan out...but that's research for you!


  9. Helpful (1)

    Very good overall experience

    Current Employee - Research Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Research Engineer in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Very high level of technical competence of all employees. Interesting projects

    Cons

    have to "sell" your ideas to government agencies

    Advice to Management

    minimize beurocracy


  10. Helpful (5)

    I really enjoy working at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories; the work is exciting and rewarding - I look forward to solving the new challenges I am sure to be faced with everyday.

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

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    One of the great things about working here is getting to work on new science and technology. There is amazing diversity in the work that is conducted at the lab, which gives employees plenty of opportunity to try something or learn something new... All the while working with some of the smartest people you will ever meet. The atmosphere is more collaborative than competitive in most areas of the lab, which is essential to making some of the great things we do everyday possible. The culture at the lab is also very supportive of work life balance, which is important to myself and my family.

    Cons

    The lab has been around for a long time and there is a lot of tribal knowledge that can be hard to understand at first. We are also required to comply with many different mandates from many different organizations, which can fell like a lot of red tape at times (but a good understanding of the system and how it works can make this manageable).

    Advice to Management

    Walk the floors (on a regular basis) and talk to the individuals working there (some managers do this better than others)... You will learn a lot about employees moral, you will begin to understand their concerns, their questions, and what motivates them.

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Dec 3, 2014

    Great summary of the pros and cons of working here. It’s fantastic to hear that you value the diversity of work here and our culture of supporting work-life balance. Thank you for sharing with ... More


  11. Helpful (3)

    Fantastic Internship Experience

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

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Work:
    Very interesting and meaningful work
    Mentors are very helpful, intelligent, and invested in you as an intern
    Relaxed dress code
    Your abilities are taken seriously - no "underemployment" feeling
    Great poster symposium

    Area:
    Beautiful weather
    Within an hour of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose
    Newly renovated downtown

    Cons

    Pay isn't that great compared to similar work - then again, it is government and not private industry
    No help with housing



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