Development Alternatives

  www.dai.com
  www.dai.com
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Development Alternatives Reviews

Updated September 9, 2014
Updated September 9, 2014
31 Reviews
3.5
31 Reviews
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Recommend to a friend
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James Boomgard
12 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Great!

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

    I worked at Development Alternatives as an intern for more than a year

    Pros

    Exposure to the most interesting people i've met in development

    Cons

    Hierarchy is evident. The interaction between departments isn't as strong as it could be.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There should be more interaction between departments. In addition they could add more ways to have good employees stay.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Unable to escape the US Gov contractor mentality

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

    I worked at Development Alternatives full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    If you work in the field, its incredible. 6 moths abroad taught me more than years in a home office. I experienced none of the Cons below in the field. I count my move from the field to the home office for "job security" as one of the worst choices I have ever made, as it sapped my faith in the whole Development Sector (read: Industry).

    Cons

    1. Avoid becoming a "Project Coordinator." This level where the most burnout happens. Poor management, long hours, high expectations, extremely high competition, and low pay drive out a lot of talented folks. This is also where most "cuts" are.

    2. Co-Workers can be cut-throat. Let's face it, this field attracts rising stars. The unfortunate reality is people here often rise at the cost of others. Because of this, my department was a gloomy, quiet place where no one spoke and people kept files on each other. One co-worker even saved all of his correspondences on a removable drive because, "You will need to cover your [butt]."
    To illustrate this point: On day ONE, I was chewed out for following a faulty set of instructions my co-worker gave me. Although he had the opportunity to step in and assume responsibility, he stayed silent. When approached later, he said, "That should teach you to always verify." Things only got worse from there!

    3. DAI can be "clickish." Long hours usually means your only friends are your co-workers. It doesn't help that most people moved to the DC are from places like Dubuque, Iowa, knowing no one in the area. The first friends they often make are the cubicle moles next to them. Longtimers (read: those that have survived for 9 months) often cluster together, dismissing "greenhorns" who have the life expectancy of Infantry at D-Day. I don't blame them! If you managed to find a group of colleagues that won't feed you to the sharks for brownie points, I'd stick to them like glue too!

    4. Its about making money stupid. DAI will beat the mantra of "we're a business that operates like a non-profit." Funny thing is, I never saw the level of blame shifting, betrayal, fact-hiding, and general A-type snobbery in the name of personal advancement and profit ... in the FOR-PROFIT sector(read: not in the Development Industry). The mission is about making money at Home Office. Your mission is professional advancement in a field where everyone is as good or better than your are. That means one thing: If you treat this like your run of the mill, mom & pop non-profit, you will be eaten alive.

    5. This will all suck your soul away. People at Home Office actively delude themselves into thinking they are doing "good for the world" while "accidentally" forwarding email chains with other peoples' mistakes to managers, filing in blanks in auditable material before the RIG shows up, taking out higher insurance policies on people going to "safe" areas in Afghanistan (only to see them brutally murdered months later), falsifying time cards, and I could go on. If these are the people who grease the wheels in our country's philanthropic efforts... well no wonder International Development is so jammed up!

    -

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    1. Ethics. Ethics. Ethics. Teach your managers to do the right thing. Corruption and scandal works its way downwards, not the other way around!
    2. Just because you can manage a portfolio, doesn't mean you can manage people, and vice versa. Separate your managers from your leaders. Give your leaders the supervisory role and your managers the role of bean counter. You'll see less people quit because "my boss sucks."

    Doesn't Recommend
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    A relatively good place to enter the world of international development

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Bethesda, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD

    I have been working at Development Alternatives full-time

    Pros

    The company is staffed by good people who are truly committed to the mission of the company. No matter who strapped for resources the teams are, they usually manage to pull it out in the end.

    Cons

    1. Compensation - there are salary bands and the median of each band represents the industry standard. The stated policy to managers every year when they are making salary recommendations is to keep people below the median. Not cool.
    2. Too much investment in Afghanistan projects. The way that junior staff were practically forced into agreeing to travel to Afghanistan - I repeatedly witnessed managers making determination about junior staff members' capabilities based on whether or not they were enthusiastic about being expected to travel to Afghanistan for months at a time.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop treating project management as if it is separate from technical implementation. On your government contracts that you are hired to implement, you are expected to not only achieve the technical aims, but to do so without stepping out of the government's lines. So treating the administrative management and compliance like an afterthought that the high and mighty technical experts can ignore and push off on to an understaffed administrative and compliance team is not necessarily a good idea. Every member of a project team in the home office and in the field has a responsibility towards project management and until you hold them accountable for audit findings or unallowable determinations, they will continue.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5.  

    Good learning experience

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

    I worked at Development Alternatives full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    I had great, supportive co-workers who were always willing to problem solve together. It was a great learning experience during which I was able to travel to three different countries and witness program implementation first hand.

    Cons

    There were times that it felt like it was impossible to progress beyond the administrative level.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in the highly motivated, young staff members who are dedicated to the mission. Help them advance.

    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Development alternatives

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Development Alternatives

    Pros

    Learnt a lot at this organization

    Cons

    the organization was foud to be unorganized

  7.  

    Very talented and knowledgeable professionals working in the international development scene.

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Development Alternatives

    Pros

    Variety of programs and projects, from a diverse set of development sectors from education to governance.

    Cons

    A lot of competition and not enough leeway to work in the offices you desire.

  8.  

    Enjoyable Culture, but Trapped in Uninspiring Donor Marketplace

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

    I have been working at Development Alternatives full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    - Inspired staff
    - Ability to chart your own career path - just talk to your colleagues and managers who want to help you!
    - Relatively stable marketplace

    Cons

    - Out of touch executive leadership team
    - Creaky old systems that smell like a government contractor
    - 2013 re-organization was a mess with no light at the end of the tunnel

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please hire some new blood. We need professionals who challenge big decisions, not the good ole boys club. The rest of the company is open-minded and invites criticism that will make all of our proposals and work stronger - that stops at the executive team level, where all of Boomgard's soldiers fall in line behind the dear leader.

    Lastly, don't just talk about being innovative -- show, don't tell, my friends.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Good work

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Development Alternatives

    Pros

    Doing great things around the world. Excellent people to work with

    Cons

    Growth limited, salary raises not so much

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    allow for more time to work from home if you're not going to pay

  10.  

    Very creative, friendly workplace

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

    I have been working at Development Alternatives

    Pros

    Mentorship, professional development opportunities, travel,

    Cons

    office in bethesda rather than downtown, sometimes knowledge management and management systems can be too clunky/convoluted.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Beware of STTA's

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

    I have been working at Development Alternatives as a contractor for less than a year

    Pros

    Outstanding benefits IF you work longer than 1000 hours.

    Cons

    If brought on board for Short Term Technical Assistance, you are likely to be terminated easily. Too easily - such as being hired by an "unpopular" manager and let go by someone higher up the food chain.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep a closer eye on the gravy train staff overseas and question why so many HQ staff need to earn an uplift and spend project funds to fly overseas for just a one-week visit.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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