Smithsonian Reviews

Updated May 1, 2015
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Smithsonian Secretary Dr. David J. Skorton
Dr. David J. Skorton
1 Rating

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 if you like the learning opportunities (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 Pros and Cons

49 Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1. This job has it

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    It's a federal job. So, the benefits are great.

    Cons

    There isn't any growth potential.

    Advice to Management

    Promote the personnel who are qualified to do there job, proficiently.


  2. Great benefits, great coworkers... little promotion potential.

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Smithsonian

    Pros

    Great benefits, great coworkers, exciting work, great location, job stability, training opportunities.

    Cons

    Slow hiring process. Little promotion potential and low-graded positions at particular museums mean lower salaries.


  3. Summer Program Intern

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

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Really interesting place to work for summer break. People there are really friendly and smart. I learned lots of new things within 6 weeks of internship. Great little benefit for interns including free tickets to all the IMAX shows.

    Cons

    The summer program is unpaid.
    The whole process of getting into the program is somehow takes a while.

    Advice to Management

    Better communication and cooperation between each department


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Mostly positive!

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Wonderful to be part of a institution dedicated to increasing and sharing knowledge via museums exhibitions, research, publication programs and other educational offerings. Amazing benefits, including learning opportunities, good health, vision and dental insurance, retirement contributions and transportation benefits.

    Cons

    Lots of bureaucracy, some difficult/territorial personalities, not much room for career advancement or salary increases in many of the positions.

    Advice to Management

    The institution doesn't seem to do much to retain and promote its most valuable, hard-working employees.


  6. Great organization, well structured

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Facilities Management and Reliability in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Facilities Management and Reliability in Washington, DC

    I worked at Smithsonian

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

    Pros

    Things are well organized, you are not left figuring things out for yourself. People are very friendly and always there to help.

    Cons

    Very silo-d work environment. The different departments are very isolated from each other, and do not communicate other than officially.

    Advice to Management

    Create more opportunities for individuals from the whole institution to gather and share experiences and become acquainted with each other


  7. Helpful (1)

    Creative work in a bureaucratic setting

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

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time (More than 8 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    compensation is excellent, benefits excellent, access to materials and collections cannot be matched, national prestige is great,

    Cons

    but another system of rewards operates inside the institution, which can make it hard to remember all the excellent opportunities: time off policies depend heavily on your supervisor's interpretation of your responsibilities; large gap between job descriptions at "humanities" agencies vs "science" agencies, even if titles (aka "Curator") are the same. Some Curators are responsible for exhibits, some are not, some write exhibition texts, some do not, some are subject to evaluation from outside committees of their peers, some are reviewed only by those inside the institutions, and recognition from the institution is rarely more than lukewarm. Advice: make sure to travel, and get feedback from your professional peers, do not rely on supervisors (who have little incentive to be supportive) or institutional colleagues (whose standards can be too low because limited to what goes on "at home"). It will be as good as you make it.


  8. Challenging and Exciting Place to Work

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Smithsonian

    Pros

    Huge network of other professionals to learn from, great opportunities for professional advancement training, come with excellent credibility

    Cons

    Large bureaucracy makes it difficult to accomplish tasks, things move slowly


  9. Great place to work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Biological Research Laboratory Technician in Suitland, MD
    Current Employee - Biological Research Laboratory Technician in Suitland, MD

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

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

    Pros

    Well funded lab and programs. Meet many new people all over the word and work with great researchers.

    Cons

    Not many opportunities to advance in carrier.

    Advice to Management

    Continuing education should be more of a priority.


  10. Exciting place to work.

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian (More than 3 years)

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

    Pros

    Job opportunities, interesting projects, benefits, and mostly great people. They often have great growth opportunities. You can join a project and grow outside your job description. The benefits, even the non-federal workers benefits, are superb. The Secretary has shown incredible leadership.

    Cons

    You can get a bad supervisor. There aren't many options for you if that happens. You have to search for another job, either inside or outside the Smithsonian. It can be a federal organization, with promotions based on federal scales.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in your staff, and ensure the leadership you hire shows engagement with the staff they have.


  11. Fantastic but certain museums need better leadership

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Scholarly Studies Fellow in Washington, DC
    Current Intern - Scholarly Studies Fellow in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Smithsonian as an intern (More than a year)

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

    Pros

    Excellent resources, and some of the most knowledgeable and sharp scholars that exist.

    Cons

    A little too much red-tape and overkill with policies and procedures; I know it is intended to accurately spend donor and constituent money, but it ends up wasting enough full time employee time that it isn't worth it. Expedite processes!

    Advice to Management

    Leadership, time management, and conflict resolution training should be a priority for those in charge of people. ("people" includes fellows and interns too!) Lack thereof reduces morale (Not in my position, but in the full-timers that I know)



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