There are newer employer reviews for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Extremely interesting work, decent pay, good people...if you don't mind LA.

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Hardware Engineer in Pasadena, CA
Former Employee - Hardware Engineer in Pasadena, CA

I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pros

The work itself is extremely interesting. I worked on the percussive drill for Mars Science Laboratory, a flight project. Every day, some new challenge arose, keeping things fresh. Everyone there is also extremely smart, so its easy to learn a lot.

Cons

There tends to be a culture of over achievement. For flight projects especially, people will work absurd hours to get the job done. This may not be a bad thing depending on your point of view I guess. The pay level, however is not commensurate with the amount of time put in by some people there. My organization had no management issues, but some others had clueless, politics-playing managers, making their jobs pretty difficult.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

It appeared that in some cases, there weren't many opportunities for advancement if you wanted to stay on the technical side of the job. There were definitely some high ranking individuals who dealt with the overarching technical issues of the missions. Many of the higher ranked positions seemed to be reserved for pure management types however.

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  1. Good overall company

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Hardware Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Current Employee - Hardware Engineer in Pasadena, CA

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    Pros

    Challenging, demanding, state of the art work. Employees are very smart, competent and willing to teach newcomers. Funding comes from the federal government. Work is somewhat stable compared to other aerospace companies. Great seminars on different topics for employees looking to learn about other fields.

    Cons

    Too much work not enough people. There are certain areas where the company is understaffed and unwilling to hire. Certain employees are expected to do what's necessary to do the work regardless of the work/life balance. Working on weekends is expected even when overtime is not paid.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make tough decisions without hesitation. Look to staff projects appropriately from the beginning instead waiting when is too late and moral is low.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  2. 2 people found this helpful

    Not bad, but needs work to become excellent.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - IT Project Manager in Pasadena, CA
    Current Employee - IT Project Manager in Pasadena, CA

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    Pros

    It's exciting to have the opportunity to contribute to something that matters: space exploration. It's a great feeling to know that your work contributes to the overall good of society rather than just chasing profits. In addition, I look forward to the time that my grandchildren read about JPL's successful projects in their history books and ask me what it was really like.

    JPL has a very friendly workforce. There are many kind and considerate people working here.

    The work environment is open enough that there are many opportunities to advance technical skills, as long as you're self-motivated to do so.

    Cons

    Compensation is not tied to performance, but is based on the idea of "salary management". Management is very concerned with keeping compensation somewhat competitive with what similar institutions are paying. However, there is not much consideration of financial reward for performance.

    Some IT technical decisions are based on organizational culture or politics rather than technical merit. While one technology may be a perfect fit for a project, another choice is often selected to avoid making some organizations or people unhappy.

    Promotions are based on who you know rather than what you've done.

    It takes forever to get things done. There is quite a bit of process control and bureaucracy in place here. Wading through the red tape makes even simple tasks very complex

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    More emphasis on action and accomplishments, less on consensus and maintaining the status quo.

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