Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Reviews

Updated February 7, 2015
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3.8
53 Reviews
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Jim Shields
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Employee Reviews

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  1. Great technology company, stagnant personal growth

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Member of Technical Staff in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Senior Member of Technical Staff in Cambridge, MA

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    Good technical challenges to solve.
    Benefits, time off (sick and vacation) and retirement matching plan.
    Some of the best technical people to work with.

    Cons

    People work on projects and once you are done, it is your responsibility to find another one.
    There is poor growth for people with Masters and Bachelors.
    The criteria for promotions are vague, arbitrary and changing.
    There are employees who have spent their entire careers (>30 years) doing the same job.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Individuals and groups are clueless as to what the corporate, directorate and division strategies are. People are constantly worried about their where their next project is coming from (charge numbers for time sheet). This forces them to think about their short-term goals, not long-term strategy.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. Draper Lab has many interesting projects, opportunities to work on emerging technologies, but an antiquated culture.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Member of the Technical Staff in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Senior Member of the Technical Staff in Cambridge, MA

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory

    Pros

    Interesting Projects and Technologies
    Accomplished Colleagues
    Flexible Work Schedule
    Occasional Work From Home
    Fascinating Corporate History

    Cons

    Passé Work Culture and Management Style
    Little to No Training Opportunities
    Confused Corporate Message to Font Line Employees
    Dilbert-esque Environment

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Modernize Management Style
    Provide Widespread Easy to Access Training Opportunities
    Coordinate and Prioritize Corporate Environment

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. Systems Engineer

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Engineer in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Senior Engineer in Cambridge, MA

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great variety of challenging projects. Great coworkers.

    Cons

    Recent direction of management. Push the managers goals over the customers.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Clean out the poor managers

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. Excellent internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Intern in Cambridge, MA
    Former Intern - Intern in Cambridge, MA

    I worked at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    Want to teach you and want you to succeed. Very helpful when you are lost with a project. Lots of opportunities to learn about things outside your internship.

    Cons

    Not very many cons. The work is very hard so if you are looking for something easy this is not the place for you.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. Engineer

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

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory

    Pros

    Great company, great benefits, emphasis on education!

    Cons

    Easy to drift along if you aren't active seeking work

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. Great place to have a job, not a good place to grow a career

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Member Technical Staff in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Senior Member Technical Staff in Cambridge, MA

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    This is a great place to have a job - the work environment is generally good. They have good benefits, average vacation, and are very flexible if you need to re-arrange your schedule around family needs. The work is interesting and the people are smart.

    Cons

    Draper is a bad place to try to grow a career. As a practice, they only promote people who have led successful projects (i.e., projects that led to follow-on revenue). There is no path to promotion for people who choose to focus on technical work or for people who agree to lead riskier projects less certain of successful follow-on funding. When they want upper level technical staff they hire from outside and do not look to advance their own people.

    Communication has generally been horrible between upper management and the rest of the company. However, we just got a new CEO (in Oct 2014) and hopefully that is going to change.

    There is very little support for software engineering - IT caters only to administrative and management functions and it is very difficult to use any current software tools, packages, etc. that are available to enable better software development.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue trying to have actual communication down from 7th floor. Fix IT. Create career paths (that exist in more than just name) for technical people.

  8. excellent work environment with challenging work and good benefits

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineering in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Engineering in Cambridge, MA

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    not much of micromanagament
    flexible workplace rules
    very good benefits

    Cons

    not much room for promotion as there is very little turnover and its not a growth company

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. Great work, but no support for software.

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

    I have been working at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Work is extremely challenging and constantly changes, you're never bored.

    Cons

    Draper does not support their software engineers.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. Great company. Outstanding people.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Configuration Management in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Configuration Management in Cambridge, MA

    I worked at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Instills a great work ethic. You wake up in the morning and really want to do meet some challenges head on.

    Cons

    Sometimes tasks are slow to evolve. Need to look for busy work during the slow times. Traffic can be heavy in Cambridge.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. Good projects, but too restricted

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Intern in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Intern in Cambridge, MA

    I worked at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    Interesting projects, good pay, projects have plenty of money, flexible work environment, great affordable cafeteria. You will never get fired unless you REALLY mess up somehow. The name of the company usually has a big effect on anyone in the industry. It's well respected.

    Cons

    Too many big egos to deal with, very secretive about everything (even when it's not necessary). The secrecy part can get in the way of completing your work, which can be frustrating. Bad communication was also somewhat common when I was there. This may have been because of the age of people I was working with, but I've worked at other places where communication between team members and other departments was much better and created better work.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Even if there is a difference in clearance levels, if you task someone with designing, building, and testing an entire device on their own, it may be helpful to tell them what it's for to some degree.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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