Aspen Institute
3.6 of 5 17 reviews
www.aspeninstitute.org Washington, DC 150 to 499 Employees

Aspen Institute Reviews

Updated Dec 29, 2013
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.6 17 reviews

                             

83% Approve of the CEO

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Walter Isaacson

(12 ratings)

75% of employees recommend this company to a friend
17 Employee Reviews
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Great environment & people, interesting work

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
Aspen, CO

I have been working at Aspen Institute as an intern for less than a year

ProsAmazing people to work with and speakers that come through; events are always intellectually stimulating

ConsNo clear career path or opportunities to stay there long-term; minimal training; relatively mindless work, but interesting speakers and events to attend, which makes it all worth it

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Flexibility and opportunity

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

I have been working at Aspen Institute full-time for more than 5 years

ProsA wide range of issues are covered and there are many interesting people and events. It's a very open environment--not top down--and there is opportunity to be creative

ConsThere is some variation across departments which can cause confusion.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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An opportunity of immense personal growth, a professional launchpad

Intern (Former Employee)
Washington, DC

I worked at Aspen Institute as an intern for less than a year

ProsAspen attracts young and brilliant people - the culture is the best part. Aspen works on a wide diversity of issues. Aspen unique in its decentralized structure, encouraging entrepreneurship, while streamlining the bureaucracy. Opportunity to travel.

ConsSometimes overworked, or working long hours. Nonprofit sector means less pay than a similar position in the private sector.

Advice to Senior ManagementContinue supporting the young employees with professional development

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Has been interesting---but your experience really depends on your manager

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

I have been working at Aspen Institute

Pros-great young staff
-good benefits
-good general environment

Cons-no room to move up
-no middle management
-experience depends on your program

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Incredibly bureaucratic and slow. Textbook example of too much overhead spending and very few outputs.

Philanthropy Program Research Fellow (Former Employee)
Washington, DC

I worked at Aspen Institute full-time for more than a year

Pros-Nice perks, like like the Christmas party at a giant estate in Maryland were you get to spend the night
-Despite signing up as a research fellow I just sat at my desk and constantly ran out of busywork, so ended up getting lots of schoolwork and personal stuff done

ConsIf you have any shred of excitement for research and actually contributing to relevant projects avoid at all costs

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Great experience for a Non-profit

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

I worked at Aspen Institute as an intern for more than a year

ProsGreat people, Lots of free lunch

ConsCareer progression can be a problem

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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A wonderful place to work while you are young

Assistant (Former Employee)
Washington, DC

I worked at Aspen Institute part-time for more than a year

ProsGreat group of people, young people as well as career professionals that have come back to work with a specific group.

ConsDifficult to be promoted, and doesn't publish as much as other think tanks.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Program Coordinator

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
Washington, DC

I worked at Aspen Institute full-time for more than a year

ProsGreat/respected organization within the beltway, benefits are great for a non-profit, more for centrist individuals who have a passion for certain policy topics, but not necessarily an advocacy organization. Good for those just starting out (out of college), better for those who are one job from retirement (i.e. accomplished executive directors in their field). Not a good place for growth, but very well connected, so great for when moving on to a different job.

ConsNot a good place for career growth. It is small, as all non-profits are. Most young people will stay 2-3 years at most before moving on. Some management is great, other departments have managers/directors that are not very communicative with their subordinates. Some senior staff are very demanding (mine just happened to keep me until past 8:00pm each night, interesting work, but no overtime, high to ridiculous expectations, and little feedback. I burned out quickly).

Advice to Senior ManagementWe understand you are busy, but be a mentor to your admin staff, even the littlest positive feedback can brighten our entire day.

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Good fit for the right person, right program-double edged sword!

Program Coordinator (Former Employee)
Washington, DC

I worked at Aspen Institute

Prosrelaxed atmosphere; each program acts as its own entity in that they raise their own funds therefore they act with complete autonomy of standards and practices for that program's employees/ team members; seminars and workshops are plentiful, along with the many opportunities to meet distinguished members of society, government officials, and global figureheads; the ability to mingle with a diverse group of people from all backgrounds and interests is invaluable; definitely looks good on the resume (if you are willing to put up with ulcers, gray hair, and anxiety issues in the end of it- more on that, in "cons" below)

Consas in the title, this is a double edged sword- since each program acts as its own entity, this also leaves much rm for error; from inconsistent standards policies and procedures, to a lack of managerial integrity, the problems stem from a blind upper management whose sight is too fixed on lofty goals, with no "peripheral" sight on core issues/ strengths/ weaknesses. working with aspen is a mixed bag: some programs are superb, some barely fit the bill; and while work life balance can be excellent with such a relaxed culture, don't let the empty promise of relaxation fool you: think carrot and stick principle, where the carrot is constantly dangling, and the stick is just a hologram of a metal baseball bat. you may get small perks like cost of living pay increase, but if you are unlucky enough to be a part of one of the less desirable programs your chances for advancement are little to none, and you will constantly be threatened. i left feeling that i wasted two yrs of my life in a glass room looking at all the wonderful things passing me by. multiple degrees, awesome personality, and a laundry list of skills were no match for the egos and agendas of the major players of the program i was in- my exit interview was combative, and management acted juvenile at best; the level of hostility i received upon leaving was shocking. Unfortunately for those not as proactive as I in willingness to quit and move on, i have heard multiple cases of severance pay with binding legal contracts (to prevent former employees from taking legal action beyond employment or otherwise). and to add insult to injury, inter-program mobility within the institute is little to none. My advice to any would be employee is to use whatever network you have to get an insider look at the institute, but more importantly take a microscope to the program you wish to work in. take some time to think about mobility and advancement within that program: if you ask your hiring manager about previous employees and the turnover is high, yet none have been promoted, unless you are passionate about that policy field (international development or environmental) then think twice.

Advice to Senior Managementno advice i can give will be enough to change the amount of character-rot i see within the institute. and to be honest, i don't believe management cares to change, OR looks at these reviews. if they do, its probably over a few glasses of brandy in their estate cigar rooms with other VPs, looking for a good laugh.

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Collection of Autonomous Groups; It all Depends on Your Group

Program Coordinator (Current Employee)
Washington, DC

I have been working at Aspen Institute

Pros- Potential to build a great network at Aspen events/colloquia/seminars
- Great learning opportunities as you go (there's no one holding your hand, which is fantastic if you like that kind of independence)
- My direct boss is a decent human being, so she's understanding when I have to take a day off for personal reasons
- Free food all the time

Cons- Upper management doesn't seem to care at all about young professionals
- Lack of professional development and training opportunities
- Medical insurance is lousy, to say the least
- Aspen moves to the tune of its funders: they say open a new program, Aspen complies (even if it just strengthens the divisions already in place)

Advice to Senior ManagementShow some appreciation of your young staff members and integrate mentorship into their professional development

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at Aspen Institute reviews and ratings — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson. All 17 reviews posted anonymously by Aspen Institute employees.