Smithsonian

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Smithsonian Reviews

Updated January 13, 2015
Updated January 13, 2015
21 Reviews
3.0
21 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough
Wayne Clough
21 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • It is quite an interesting place to work with behind the scenes understanding of what happens in the largest museum complex in the world (in 3 reviews)

  • Great benefits after two years of employment and committed people (in 4 reviews)


Cons
  • Not much of a chance for full time position (in 5 reviews)

  • Huge bureaucracy, it takes a long time to process any new plan (in 3 reviews)

More Highlights

21 Employee Reviews Back to all Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Great People

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Unix Engineer
    Former Employee - Senior Unix Engineer

    I worked at Smithsonian

    Pros

    Everyone is pleasant, hardworking and great people to work with.

    Cons

    It pays to be a workaholic

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Your doing a fantastic job.

    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Great Team; So-So position

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Administrative in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Administrative in Washington, DC

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Manager was pleasant, helpful. Department, located in Natural history museum, consisted of intelligent, friendly scientists. Great coworkers; close to Metro station.

    Cons

    Not much room for advancement if working in administrative field.
    During summer months its hard to find a quick place to eat lunch due to the summer crowds.

    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Graduate Level Internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Curatorial Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Curatorial Intern in Washington, DC

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    Generally nice people to work with. Curators can often come with egos. Good collection, but not the best.

    Cons

    Often have to deal with bureaucracy. Change moves slow. Technological aptitude is a not very high as many employees have been there for a long time and don't learn new tech. Moral can be low due to low wages, poor advancement.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you primarily focus on expanding/growing the art collection, the employees will be left behind and leave for different opportunities.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Disorganized, real talent gets lost

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

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    Caliber, name brand of organization, people are always impressed by "Smithsonian," views on the mall are nice, steady supply of interesting programming for staff

    Cons

    No real talent in administration, people come to the Smithsonian really expecting something special because it's well, the Smithsonian, and are really, really disappointed. Administration staff severely overworked and likely underpaid. Bad talent never gets fired only demoted and moved around. Many people stay because of name and nothing else. I would not recommend the Smithsonian to anyone who is really looking for an engaging and inspiring career -- if you like brand names, go for it -- but you certainly don't get brand name quality here.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    On the outside, the museums are nice. They're well-maintained, etc. On the inside, it's a zoo...

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    Contracting

    Former Contractor - Contractor in Washington, DC
    Former Contractor - Contractor in Washington, DC

    I worked at Smithsonian as a contractor (less than a year)

    Pros

    The Smithsonian offered many opportunities for individuals to expand their horizons. Great program for interns, wonderful to be surrounded by such great minds.

    Cons

    Difficult to commute to the Mall during the summer, low pay, no oversight, must sign up as a business if you do any contract work for them.

  7.  

    Sounds fascinating, but ultimately, it's the government.

    Former Employee - Secretary in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Secretary in Washington, DC

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    You can wander around the museum on your lunch break.

    Cons

    You're working for the government, in all its Kafka-esque, everything-in-triplicate craziness.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Oh well, better here than Asia.

  8.  

    Government Red Tape

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Incredible opportunities and resources, government benefits, and talented colleagues make the Smithsonian an appealing workplace. Plus you can't beat the name recognition on a resume.

    Cons

    There are forms upon forms to fill out, everything is heavy in procedure and red tape, and the institution moves slowly. Once someone is employed there it is impossible to get rid of them regardless of their competency.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Not terrible, great internship opportunity but crippled by bureaucracy

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Special Events Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Special Events Intern in Washington, DC

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    Networking, resources, amazing curators and shows

    Cons

    Unpaid, bureaucracy, not a good way to get a foot in the door

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please do not gossip about former employees like mean high school girls. Highly unprofessional staff who constantly complain about being burned out AT work. Terrible role models and supervisors for interns.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great freedom but not great pay

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Museum Specialist in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Museum Specialist in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    I love the freedom I have at my job, my office has a great view and I get to learn interesting things and interact with people all over the globe. An academic atmosphere where no one is in any hurry.

    Cons

    The institution is chronically understaffed and a good portion of the staff are totally unproductive. Not the place for an ambitious career minded individual. Giving 110% will not be rewarded and you will just shoulder the burden of those retiring and those that will not pull their own weight. Considering the education and experience expected to gain employment you could easily make TWICE as much at another agency.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    My direct management is "hands off" and departmental management is either MIA or unconcerned, which can be both a benefit and a curse. HIRE more, PROMOTE more, and that would improve morale and productivity immensely.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Its a job not a career. Unless you work in the disciplines of education, curating, and science its not fulfilling.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - First Line Supervisor in New York, NY
    Current Employee - First Line Supervisor in New York, NY

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Work with good hardworking people.
    Meet many interesting people everyday since museums average 30 million visitors annually.
    It's a culturally rich environment.

    Cons

    Lack of recognition for work performance is bad for morale.
    Lack of upward mobility is discouraging.
    A person can get complacent when there is no challenge to the position.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Know your people.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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