RAND

  www.rand.org
  www.rand.org
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4 people found this helpful  

Really good for the right people

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Associate in Washington, DC
Current Employee - Associate in Washington, DC

I have been working at RAND

Pros

If you are looking for a great life balance, are too ambitious to work in academia (low pay), but are not that ambitious to work 70 hour weeks in the private sector, this is the place to be.

The work environment is really nice and the people are really bright, even though you're bound to encounter some weird scientist types who won't even say hello to you when you cross paths with them in the hallway. It's not a crazy competitive environment so people tend to be nice to each other overall.

The pay is very decent, and the benefits are great. 6 weeks of paid vacation/ sick leave + major holidays and paid emergency days.

Also a very prestigious place to work. 30 Nobel Laureates have worked at RAND at some point in their career.

Cons

The internal labor market: You have to find work within the company even after you are hired, which can be stressful at times. However, if you happen to do research in an area where there is a lot of demand, then you won't face that many problems in coverage.

Not that many opportunities for advancement: There are only three levels: associate, full and senior. Most people reach senior status after 7- 10 years with the company. If you are very ambitious and really looking for a place where you really want to advance in your career, then you'd rather work for a for-profit consulting company like McKinsey or Bain& Co. (but then be ready to put in the extra hours to advance there)

Overall the positives definitely outweigh the negatives for certain people.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

As hard as it may be, it would be good to find income streams outside of the DoD. RAND people are really bright and could benefit a lot more clients in the civilian/ private sector.

Recommends
Approves of CEO

93 Other Employee Reviews for RAND (View Most Recent)

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  1. 6 people found this helpful  

    Has-been agency, excessive overhead, bureaucracy rivaling government agency, mysterious peformance review process

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Former Economist in Santa Monica, CA
    Former Employee - Former Economist in Santa Monica, CA

    I worked at RAND

    Pros

    Prestige, good vacation benefits, near the beach

    Cons

    Overhead on projects is astronomical leaving fewer project opportunities for more experienced staff. To compensate, they aggressively hire less experienced staff and phase out the more experienced (those with good funding streams). The resulting "crowding out" dilutes quality of research and revenue.The planning horizon is measured in weeks/months and is fairly reactive rather than strategic. The salary review process is a black box and seems to be unrelated to performance.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Rotate several long-serving corporate officers (the "old guard") with those more willing to adapt, plan, and thrive. Revisit the corporate structure so that Human Resources is not subordinate to those who decide on personnel actions and promotions. Employ a neutral party (non-corporate) to adjudicate concerns about fairness, labor practices, and ethics.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 12 people found this helpful  

    In Search of Excellence (But Not There Yet)

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I have been working at RAND

    Pros

    - Truly flexible work hours (you must bill 80 client hours every two weeks – when and where you do it is effectively optional).

    - Enormous independence and intellectual responsibility for solid hires. I have gone days without being micromanaged.

    - High quality office buildings in principal locations. Santa Monica office is an architectural marvel.

    - Strong name recognition in nearly every other white collar field. For some lines of work a multiyear stint is as good as an Ivy League degree.

    - Pay comparable to big box consultancies such as Accenture, Booz Allen, and Deloitte for similar experience (although not by way of educational credentials or quality of work demanded). The perks of a non-profit without the poverty.

    - Six weeks of unrestricted, paid leave per year, in addition to standard holidays (see caveat below).

    - Very minimal but classy travel (Ritz Carlton / business class upgrades).

    Cons

    - RAND has an internal labor market where one must bid onto projects based on semi-formal networking. This works fine so long as there are more man-hours of work to be done than man-hours available, but when things get lean it can get somewhat troublesome. Taking unexpected vacation days to fill in gaps in coverage is only made palatable by how much leave is given.

    - There is little to no workforce planning beyond minimally useful end of fiscal year targets. Therefore, severe imbalances in workflow can occur within a given practice area, resulting to serious lulls in one’s ability to bill clients. For example, several principal investigators are having a deliverables reviewed at once to meet a DOD mandated submission deadline, and therefore cannot be bothered to issue new tasks to mid-level employees.

    - Little room for intellectual movement. There are effectively three major lines of consulting work at RAND: traditional defense-industrial issues for the Pentagon (where RAND made its name), intelligence work which amounts to very high level augmentation for the CIA, NSA, etc., and health / labor / population issues. To the extent people move between these areas, it is only because say, the Army requests a medical study and it requires specific bureaucratic knowledge to come to fruition. The remainder of RAND research – in areas like infrastructure, the arts, development, policing, etc. – is very piecemeal and represents very low dollar flow.

    - There is no mechanism to fire underperformers / nasty personalities that lack a fixed term contract. There are a handful of senior researchers in every office that are atrocious, but continue to cobble together enough coverage to meet their billable targets and hence hang on.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -
    Restructure the travel support contract with incentives for cost control. If RAND staff can find hotels and tickets for more than 15% below the quoted rate from the support agency (the supposed amount reimbursed to RAND at the end of the fiscal year based on the organization’s aggregate bill), allow them to make the arrangements on their own. Example: I was forced to pay a “negotiated rate” of $200+ a night for a hotel in Santa Monica whose going rate was $89 plus tax by way of Google. Just because the travel contract fulfills government auditing requirements does not make it sound.

    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO
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