Aquilent Reviews in Laurel, MD

Updated September 27, 2014
Updated September 27, 2014
40 Reviews
2.9
40 Reviews
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  1.  

    Unlike most contracting agencies for the federal government Aquilent hires contractors as employees with benefits!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Web Editor/Writer in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Web Editor/Writer in Laurel, MD

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Benefits--health, vision, dental, LTD, retirement, opportunities for advancement, tools for training, and an overall desire to create a community

    Cons

    It is a contracting agency and employees often have to work onsite at the federal agency making it hard to connect with others at Aquilent.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Train your ADs and PMs to act like they do in the private sector with their employees. Despite the great benefits and attempts to get everyone pumped up by the internal marketing team I still feel like I am nothing but a body on the job. And having to be onsite in a sweatshop environment. What I'm saying is go to bat for your employees. They provide great service and product so don't insult them by having them work onsite for the clients in sub-par environments.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Kind of a crapshoot: can be decent for a short while, more than likely will just be frustrating.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    There's a lot of really great people at this company, and your ability to be around them can really make or break your work experience. They seem to hire heavily based on personality, and the upside is that I haven't really worked with anyone here that I don't actually like and get along with very well. They have been an enormous bright spot in my stay here, and they are the reason I took this job in the first place (my interview really hit all of the notes I wanted to hear about caring about the quality of work environment).

    Pay's okay (it seems largely dependent on your ability to negotiate your own starting salary). They certainly have a flexible work schedule and a really relaxed corporate HQ environment, provided you are not supposed to be at a client site. I think the company's going to be having a rough next 6 months while they experience some growing pains, but overall, this certainly comes across as a pretty stable company. Health insurance and 401k options are pretty solid.

    Cons

    It's a body shop, however much they may argue that they are not. It's really odd: some positions are effectively permanent (some people are stuck on projects with no possibility of advancement for years), and yet others are never ending revolving doors. Overall, they almost never seem to promote from within so your ability to actually move up in any way beyond a simple title bump and maybe bringing in an extra 4-5k for it seems extremely limited. There's a huge degree of variability in how busy you will actually be as an employee: everyone seems to either be stuck in neutral or ramped up into high gear. This can be a very frustrating environment to work in, even when you are surrounded by good people.

    Management is poor, and the unstaffed HR of VP position for the last year has meant that resource management has been a complete joke. Part of the problem that they have with staffing positions, particularly development roles, is that there is actually no real understanding in management and HR as to the nuance of certain development tasks.

    Speaking as a developer, most of the work is pretty dull too: it's 90% WCMS work, usually in poorly maintained environments that require a lot of clean up, with all the frustration that comes with the very traditional "hurry up and wait" mentality that is endemic in government contracting. Seriously, developers: almost no one in this company really understands what you do. Most of your work will be things you probably could have been doing with your eyes closed 15 years ago. Some of their more interesting projects, they can't keep funded. Aquilent is also loathe to ever push back on a client request, which is a frustrating environment to work in when most of your client contact points are non technical people who have little understanding of what they are asking for.

    Aquilent can be a great place if you're on the right project (usually one that lets you stay in Laurel) for maybe 2 years, but I'm hardpressed to think of a reason even under the best of circumstances to stay longer than that. There are some really great people in important positions (PMs, tech leads), but by and large even they end up being really stymied by the fact that Aquilent is a bit cheap, and unwilling to push back on unreasonable client requests. The lack of advancement opportunities, and the complete lack of control you have as an employee over what sorts of projects you would like to work on means that you can very easily feel like little more than a line item on an account director's balance sheet, and you will be treated exactly like that.

    There's also a complete lack of company wide development standards. Big portions of your work will be devoted to cleaning up old code (some that Aquilent has written) because there is generally a very poor QA and testing process on most work. If you are looking for a shop that does test driven development, and really knows and emobides best practices as a whole, this is not it.

    For me personally, coming here has been probably a negative move for my career. I've been moved around more times than I care to think about in the last year and I've spent most of my time onboarding and offbaording projects rather than actually doing work. Generally, I feel like my skills have deteriorated, and certainly if I had known that this was 90% WCMS work, I would not have taken a job here. My interview was a little bit misleading (not intentionally so, it just feels that because almost no one who interviewed me knows about differences in types of development, that I got sold a bad bag of goods as a result), and this isn't unheard of. Aquilent does seem to have a reputation for hiring LAMP developers and then fitting them into boring WCMS cleanups in 15 year old content management systems. Developers be ware.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire and keep a VP of HR. Your company culture is very fragmented and is not being disseminated at client sites well, which means that over 2/3rds of your company feels like they work more for their client than they do Aquilent.

    Hire people for the skills you actually want: if you want a drupal developer, hire a drupal developer, don't overstaff a team with 3 full time positions worth of people who don't know drupal when you could just hire one guy who knows the CMS well who could handle everything.

    At least consider hiring from within. Lack of advancement, particularly in non development positions is responsible for a very high turnover. Development roles only feel like they have a shot for advancement, because no one really knows what's involved in them so once the company finds a developer they like they're loathe to get rid of them, ever.

    Vertical business units are ridiculous. if you're going to do this, you need to have a much more transparent and open resource management system, because right now employees are largely left to fend for themselves to find their next project when their current one ends, or risk being let go because no one at Aquilent really tried to make a spot for them anywhere. Similarly, you need to have some kind of stability for employees that you can't really seem to place anywhere for more than a couple of months at a time. HR does not have a handle on this currently.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3.  

    Unbelievably, the worst company I have worked for in my life!!!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD

    I worked at Aquilent full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Work from home
    Pool table
    Lounge area
    Fruits delivered daily
    Cool social functions

    Cons

    If you notice that my "Pros" had nothing to do with my position, there's a reason for that. The issue with Aquilent is that there are Sr. managers who think they are technical who don't know how the products they commit to the customer works. A previous review stated that the company does not know how to say "no" to the customer is an understatement. Aquilent will waste resources to accomplish the customers goal even if it doesn't make sense.

    Beware of the people that current Aquilent employees claim as "Very Smart". I have had a run in or two with these people and I will say "Not the sharpest tools in the toolbox". The people referenced are in higher positions which means if you are in a technical role, your opinion will not count. if they tell you that they value all opinions, then assume they are misleading you (how would you determine if they were misleading you?). If you want to understand the company and how they operate, ask HR about the turnover rate that many people have stated here in reviews, and ask why. Also, in your interview ask any of the technical people to explain their process for development (how do you deploy code, what tools do you use and if they are currently incorporated into the environment) or just simple tests. Understand (fully) what your daily tasks are and what you are committing to when you get an offer. If interviewers can't explain to you what your daily activities are like, then ask to speak to a person that deals with the day-to-day.

    As a manager, there should be a vision of what your plan for your group for the next 6 months. If you get a technical interview, ask your potential manager "How do you see your group in the next 6 months", "How many people do you have on your team", "What has your group accomplished in the last 6 months" and if you don't like the answers to these questions dig a little more until you get satisfied/unsatisfied answers. I wish I had a review like this which would have prevented me from accepting the position. My assumptions is that most people that have been at Aquilent 5+ years that they have just accepted doing just the minimum amount of work and get paid a decent salary (they have accepted the foolishness).

    Lastly, if your gut tells you that the people in front of you are misleading......STAY AWAY or you will regret it and will be writing your story on glassdoor as well. Don't let the "Best company to work" title make you feel that the environment is different.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Management does not need to get involved currently, but the HR group needs to step up and find out why people are leaving and fix the problem. Managers are not capable of fixing the problems because they don't engage in Manager-Employee conversations and this is a huge problem because the reason there is a high turnover rate is because HR doesn't get involved and do what's necessary which is remove people that are ineffective from management. HR, have an anonymous survey go out to all of your employees and ask specifics about what they would change in their job. Also, send that same survey to you managers and see if the results are consistent.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5.  

    Developers Beware!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD

    I worked at Aquilent full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    competitive salary, decent benefits, profit sharing, fun activities, telecommuting, flexible schedules

    Cons

    Job security, high turnover, inconsistent management styles and effectiveness, location (Laurel), management has no idea what development teams are up to, HR has no clue about how to retain or place people; they just rubber stamp the management power clique

    I was laid off due to lack of ANY Java (or any other) software development. The company is throwing a lot of effort into its cloud support, so it should be a good place for cloud system admins. It's also a good place for CMS and UX folks. But developers beware because it's slim (to no) pickings.

    Working at Aquilent is exciting in that it's a crap shoot – if you land a project that is interesting and lasts longer than six months, things are great. I learned a lot on the few good projects. More often, I was stuck with some lackluster project employing obsolete technology or put on the bench where you wait wondering if the company will find something for you to work on.

    My first project was a disaster; our prime basically “fired” Aquilent, although in all fairness, the prime was a joke, but you would think Aquilent would have vetted them a little better. It lasted a couple of months and then I was on the bench. Welcome to Aquilent! Then some decent and not so decent projects came along, culminating in a two year project that was great. (Two years is an extraordinarily long project for this company.) After busting my butt for two years, it ended and according to HR and upper management, all development work had dried up and I was back on the bench. I was told the bench was “strong” and not to worry. Then one day out of the blue, I was told to pack. First time I have been laid off in a long career.

    They have fairly aggressive schedules, which management likes to cloak as “agile”. All of Aquilent's contracts are with the government and we all know how agile the government is.

    Aquilent does not invest in its people. If they have a project for you, you are safe and everyone is happy. Otherwise, they let you go and with little notice. Doesn't seem to matter how long you have been with the company.

    Managers above line management need to be much more in touch with the people doing the actual work. Their only connection with the workers is through the almighty schedules.

    Company tries to be hip with hip parties and hip pool tables and hip “refresh” zones, but under the hip facade is another federal contractor that struggles finding it's niches and goes with what it thinks is the latest big wave (cloud) instead of sticking with tried and true development work.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get your heads out of the Cloud. Get some BD people who know how to get work. The company was started on development work and needs to figure out how to get it again. Pad your bench and make it more comfortable because too many of your folks spend time on it.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Mediocre - hit the ground running or you're out

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

    I worked at Aquilent full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Good technologies and focused management team with a strong belief in what they are doing and how they run the business.

    Cons

    Not open to new ideas or different ways of running the business and solving problems.

    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Great Place to Work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Solutions Architect in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Solutions Architect in Laurel, MD

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Great people to work with and good opportunity to learn a lot of new things if that is something that you are interested in. Really great people and the company cares about you.

    Cons

    The company wants to grow, but the people at the top don't really understand how to make that happen

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  8. 3 people found this helpful  

    Your team and manager make all the difference

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - User Experience Track in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - User Experience Track in Laurel, MD

    I worked at Aquilent (more than an year)

    Pros

    Work is diverse and interesting, compensation is pretty good for the industry. Company has traditionally had a family feel where it is easy to have congenial relationships with HR, IT, other groups, etc. Champions cutting edge technology when possible, always looking forward. Very flexible schedules are possible as well as telecommuting.

    Cons

    Company is growing really fast and culture can't keep up. Although they espouse ethical behavior, it really depends on who the AD is, what the project is, and where the money is at. Senior Management says one things, but clearly champions keeping the money rolling in rather than drinking their own koolaid of only accepting the "right" kind of clients. If you have a good manager and team, things are GREAT! If you are on a crazy project or have ineffectual managers, you are screwed. There is less stability than they say--if your project ends there is no guarantee that you will be moved to another team or if you are that you will be doing what you really want to do. Again, it all comes down to your managers and who advocates for you. Aquilent assumed very little risk during the government shutdown--if your project was shut down you had use your own vacation or go into the hole and then not get paid. This seems unfair for a company that only works with the federal government.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Re-evaluate whether or not you are actually living the non-negotiable traits and that they are spreading downward. Retool the bonus structure so the worker bees can get more of a share (the metrics are heavily skewed towards upper management, especially Grow Aquilent criteria). Create and advertise a more formal project transfer project, hold managers who have unhappy teams accountable for work environment.

    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. 5 people found this helpful  

    One of the worst employers I've ever had the unfortunate experience of dealing with

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD

    I worked at Aquilent full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    They have a gym for employees to use.

    Cons

    Management is absolutely clueless about software development --especially their CTO. Aquilent hires developers and their CTO is so afraid of having them write software that they get stuck doing mindless tasks or fighting with technology that was never meant to be customized. The biggest problem is their CTO and the clique other folks have mentioned. They're so confident in their opinions, yet have a track record of failure. They're the biggest group of narcissists I've ever had the unfortunate experience of working with.

    There are few growth opportunities unless you join the mindless drones that already live in their management team.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get your head out of your a**, fire your CTO and build something for your clients that doesn't suck the life out of tax payers.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Invisible Leadership Team

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Lead Business Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Lead Business Consultant in Laurel, MD

    I have been working at Aquilent full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Flexible work schedule. Solid benefits package. Wonderful colleagues that go the extra mile. Competitive salary. Financially stable with steady growth.

    Cons

    Senior leadership does not engage with the staff--an occasional "all hands" is not interacting. They are clueless as to the experiences, difficulties those "on the ground" are dealing with. HR is invisible.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Don't just depend on the quarterly reporting from the AD and PM. They will NEVER tell you the truth if it impacts how they are perceived. Reach out to those actually working with the client for some real answers.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 4 people found this helpful  

    Senior Technical Consultant

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Senior Technical Consultant in Laurel, MD

    I worked at Aquilent full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Competitive salary, excellent benefits including PTOs, reasonable health insurance, and tuition reimbursement. Got some really talented IT people working in the company. Lot of events for the employee to participate and have fun.

    Cons

    Poor HR department who have no clue on how to retain the good employees by allocating the resources properly. Short-sighted directors who never present the accurate situation of the project to the upper management, which results in frustrated employees who actually do the real work. After hour events are fun but only for those socialize and for those who have no family to deal with. The "GrowAquilent" idea is badly damaging the relationship between the employees and the company. Everyone knows that it does not work but the executives seem to be deluded that it has been a success.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do what actually works for the employees as they are the real assets. Not the numbers nor the pretty powerpoint.slides in the annual meetings.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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