University of California Berkeley Reviews

Updated March 20, 2015
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University of California Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks
Nicholas B. Dirks
112 Ratings

55 Employee Reviews

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  1. Great people, horrible organization

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant III in Berkeley, CA
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant III in Berkeley, CA

    I have been working at University of California Berkeley full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    This campus is so big and segmented that you're likely to have a very different experience depending on what department you're in. My direct coworkers have generally been fantastic, though, and the workplace is generally casual with an "everybody pitch in" attitude. Lots of holidays and fairly good time off policies. If you're good at what you do, there are also ample opportunities to move up - some of the COO-level people in the administrative units started out at the Admin Assistant level.

    Cons

    Staff is constantly overworked, it's almost impossible to get rid of inefficient or incompetent people who pass their probationary periods which sometimes makes it look like you're fully staffed when in fact it's just the rest of you pulling for one. Constant budget cuts ALWAYS impact staff members and administrative departments first. Because it's a public university, you won't be paid market rate. Attempts to improve workflow processes tend to get lost in bureaucracy.

    There's still a "consensus" culture to UC, which is one of those things that sounds nice in theory but in practice means that any attempt at change will be met with open, obvious opposition. And often, if one person opposes, the entire attempt fails. There's a lot of inefficiency, but the structure and culture here very much entrenches that at the expense of the competent few, who receive mounting pressure and workload to make up the difference.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Abandon the consensus model and empower your service organizations (HR, IT, etc.) to give bad news to clients when necessary. Apply efficiency standards equally within units. Make sure people are heard - your best workers are consistently burning out and leaving. Treat employee suggestions seriously and make a good-faith effort to implement them.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. Stagnant and disappointing experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Academic Coordinator in Berkeley, CA
    Former Employee - Academic Coordinator in Berkeley, CA

    I worked at University of California Berkeley full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    - a sprinkle of co-workers who are passionate about education
    - good health coverage benefits
    - close access to Bart
    - knowledgeable co-workers
    - technology team is always working hard at perfecting processes and improving online courses

    Cons

    - higher management severely lacks emotional intelligence
    - employees who have been there for years are comfortable and crabby in their positions
    - no chances to advance
    - broken processes
    - no performance guides or outlines
    - no opportunities for salary bonuses or increases (except for bonus nomination, which is not always fair, as it is decided by a committee who have no direct knowledge of the nominees)

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    - value your employees, and show it, aside from empty compliments at staff meetings
    - improve/fix broken processes
    - stop overloading people and creating burnout
    - make technological training MANDATORY for older management

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  3. Ups and downs...

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

    I worked at University of California Berkeley

    Pros

    - comprehensive benefits package (health, medical, dental)
    - loose deadlines
    - if you're lucky, a team that supports your efforts and collaborates with you
    - if you're even luckier, positive relationships with many of the higher-up administrators who truly care about education
    - the ability to help and impact adult students
    - the opportunity to train yourself in autonomy, self-guidance, and stress management
    - useful stepping stone for working on Berkeley campus

    Cons

    - little to no employee morale efforts
    - terrible human resources services
    - performance standards are pretty low; there is no motivating factor to perform well, as raises are not possible and supervisors do not acknowledge accomplishments, yet performance reviews are always mediocre so that employees don't feel entitled to earning more money
    - people are tasked with the responsibilities of 3-4 employees, so that the institution doesn't spend money hiring extra people
    - often time, the people needed to resolve or process something are away or out sick
    - retention rate for people under 30 is extremely low
    - middle and higher management are technologically challenged, out of touch with their academic employees, unconcerned re: their teams' efforts, and some (not all) are generally biding time until their retirement benefits kick in
    - highest-level management doesn't address or resolve employee unhappiness/conflict
    - little to no chance for advancement
    - too many people who are there because they can't get fired, thereby rendering them out of touch with the advances needed to improve the institution, or perpetually stressed and bitter

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Change employee approach. Encourage external and internal professional development. Allow brainstorming and creativity, rather than adhering to the status quo and encouraging everyone to simply eke by. Spend money on employee initiatives, perks, etc. Be more in touch with lower-level administrators. Ensure that middle and higher management are qualified, professionally and interpersonally, for the positions they are in.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
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  5. It is very tough to work at this University as graduate student

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

    I have been working at University of California Berkeley

    Pros

    it is a good training for research purpose.

    Cons

    very competitive environments, and low paying salary

  6. Campus Shared Services Program

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

    I worked at University of California Berkeley as a contractor (more than a year)

    Pros

    Benefits: Great opportunity to learn a lot and work on special projects.

    Cons

    Leadership was taking care of business as they should causing several budget cuts that lead to layoffs during the holiday season and many people quitting prior to the holiday season. :-(

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. Great place for working with 5 to 10 year old technology and 25 year old management techniques

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Developer in UC Berkeley, CA
    Former Employee - Developer in UC Berkeley, CA

    I worked at University of California Berkeley

    Pros

    pension if you can last 20 years. respect of family needs is wonderful.

    Cons

    salary. bureaucracy. ridiculous security that has to be sidestepped to be productive. too much management with many of them thinking they are in control by being in meetings all day and not talking to their servants.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    you favor process over people so of course every solution you create consists of new management initiatives. Think about this, look at the stats...

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. Nice guy, bad advisor.

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at University of California Berkeley

    Pros

    He won't kick you out of the lab. He will never tell you no.

    Cons

    He will never think about you or your project except for the 30 min you are in the same room together. He can be unnecessarily pessimistic about your science instead of trying to find the good parts and direct it that way. He is lucky there are some great students and post docs in the lab to manage it for him, because he doesn't.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Manage.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  9. Could be a good place to work with improvements

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

    I have been working at University of California Berkeley full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Pretty relaxed atmosphere. Lots of long-term employees. University benefits are good.

    Cons

    Inept management. Totally unqualified, Director-level people were hired years ago and are still here making blundering, uninformed decisions. Promotions from within are almost unheard of. Raises are extremely rare.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop ridiculous hiring practices. Hiring unqualified people just because you know them or they are related to you is a cowardly practice that erodes morale. Nepotism should be illegal since this is State of California money that is being basically wasted.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  10. Underpaid Graduate Students

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

    I have been working at University of California Berkeley

    Pros

    Working with A-class stellar faculty!

    Cons

    Underpaid with no compensation and little benefits.

    Approves of CEO
  11. Inefficient, negligent, and unaccountable

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

    I have been working at University of California Berkeley full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The diversity of experience that one can attain here is enormous -- tens of thousands of people, thousands of professors, participation from dozens of countries, and strength in many -- if not most! -- fields of research.

    Cons

    Fundamentally, Berkeley suffers from a lack of oversight despite an already bloated bureaucracy. There are amazing teachers and -- more commonly -- terrible teachers. There are good graduate advisers and -- again, more commonly -- terrible advisers. And, of course, there are incredible administrators and many more terrible ones.

    But most of all, when subjected to the negative consequences of this failure of oversight, whether in the form of a neglectful instructor, an abusive adviser, or an ineffective administrator, there is simply no recourse. Everyone has their own little fiefdom here, and no one -- from the faculty, to the deans, to the administration -- is interested in changing the culture if it means potentially stepping on someone else's toes.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make everyone accountable for their actions. Graduate students who cannot speak English should not be allowed to teach. Professors who refuse to put effort into teaching should be reprimanded. Advisers who exploit their graduate students should be exposed. And most of all, loath though I am to suggest more bureaucracy, a department of human resources -- or something like it -- is dearly needed to properly address and manage complaints and allegations of mistreatment.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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