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  1. 3 people found this helpful  

    Nightmare Experience at Center for Tobacco Products

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

    I worked at FDA full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    - Position Looks Great On Paper: This position – and really, most positions at the FDA – lend themselves to a great narrative for future job interviews. In most Centers, you are surrounded by brilliant people who couldn’t care more about what they do. At the Center for Tobacco Products, it sounds like you get to go after an industry that’s widely disparaged at a place that sounds vaguely similar to working at an AGs office. In practice, this could not be further from the truth, but it sure can *sound* that way to people who don’t know any better.
    - Wealth of Knowledge: The FDA is an awesome place to learn about the products being regulated and how the law works. This was not the case at the CTP, but the FDA itself offers enormous opportunities that one should take advantage of.
    - Passionate Leaders: The very top couple officials at the CTP obviously care about what they’re doing and have enormous expertise and leadership skills to get things done.

    Cons

    - Culture of Chaos: Who is your boss? It’s a mystery, with constantly-changing mid-level managers doing musical chairs every couple months. This led to ….
    - Arbitrary, Unclear Expectations: This was exhausting for our team, since the many poorly-explained rules changed by the day. It’s expected that a new Center would have a lot of changes, but this top-down approach without clear, explained expectations led to enormous frustration by everyone. That led to….
    - Terrible Work Culture: There was a total, obvious lack of a positive culture that could encourage career growth. Even the mid-level management felt like they had one foot out the door (and some even said this to me!). With that attitude, it’s impossible to plan a career within the Center. That stemmed from …
    - Job Duties Completely Different From Job Postings: I love chipping in to the broader goals of an office. At my current position, I handle several different job duties that others can’t do due to time or just won’t do due to seniority. And that’s fine! What’s not great is having a job that’s completely, 180-degrees different from what you expect: The position I applied to described "resolving a broad range of issues concerning ... regulations," "researching regulatory issues," and "creating new policies and regulations." The job I -- and the lawyers on my team -- actually did was filling out endless templates in Microsoft Word all day long. Basically: data entry. However, if you want to gently discuss this huge mismatch with your supervisor, that will lead to …
    - Totally Insane Conversations: I noted to my supervisor that maybe I should think about changing jobs, since data entry wasn’t what I signed up for. Could I switch Centers? Could I change Offices within the Center? His reply: “I was a cop for most of my life and had to walk the beat in my early years. Now, it’s your turn.” So despite irrelevant training or expertise, our team needed to suffer because this supervisor once had a crappy job. That’s completely nuts. What are you supposed to do? Well, there’s something you can do to improve the quality of your work-life ...
    - Pursuing Outside Networking: I went to FDA events, HHS events, FDLI seminars, talked to general counsel, etc. -- it’s super bizarre to talk serious policy and law in one’s off-hours, only to come back to data entry during work hours. Problem was that super-human networking just alienated my supervisors: it was important to know your place at CTP. For example, following learning of all the extra effort I was putting in outside of work, a former nurse was tasked with monitoring my template-filling (despite us being at the same GS level) and he had many, many condescending words about my complete lack of template-filling-abilities. My life became a movie: either a mean-spirited, unfunny Office Space or a super-boring (but just as sadistic) Saw.
    - So: do you dream of battling big tobacco and saving the world? This isn’t for you.
    - Or, you dream of data entry all day long, without the ability to transfer, with rules (data entry rules!) that change frequently, under mid-level leadership that changes frequently, who take serious offense upon your mentioning that you just want to do something law-related, and are threatened by outside learning? Then, you are kinda weird ... but this job is definitely for you.
    - Truly, the Center for Tobacco Products was a soul-crushing experience.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It's been a while since I was at the CTP, but if things are still the same I would do a couple things:
    - Shake up middle-managers. Form a positive work culture.
    - FDA itself needs to improve the culture of CTP and bring it into the fold of its great Centers elsewhere
    - Clear job descriptions. Positions should be targeted toward the actual job duties -- not hiring of lawyers to do data-entry. That's just a waste of government money. Outsource the data entry.
    - Support outside learning. This shouldn’t be threatening. At all.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    If you haven't been there 30 years, don't bother

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Regulatory Counsel in Silver Spring, MD
    Current Employee - Regulatory Counsel in Silver Spring, MD

    I have been working at FDA full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very few at the Center for Drug Research. Its as if the drinking water has some chemical substance and they've all drunk at the wheel.

    Cons

    No parking, cramped offices, nasty folks, why bother. No creativity, lots of templates, but poor systems to help locate what is needed. Lots of wasted time doing projects that don't go anywhere - the Chief Counsel's office vetos almost everything.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Bring some real attorneys in house who work for you and not the department. Don't assign busywork - you are wasting taxpayer resources.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  3.  

    Not for young people

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Research Fellow in Silver Spring, MD
    Former Employee - Research Fellow in Silver Spring, MD

    I worked at FDA full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    As a research fellow, the pay rate is OK. Of course higher than being a research assistant at school. Good life-work balance.

    Cons

    Such life style may not be what you like ......

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Interesting work and opportunities, some government bureaucracy

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

    I have been working at FDA full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Public health mission underneath it all. In general, people who work there are good, dedicated in my opinion. For those early in career, you'll learn quite a bit and gain broad exposure. For those late in career, stability. Work-life balance is what you make of it. Flexible workplace arrangements, when exercised, are a good option for all.

    Cons

    Government bureaucracy can be frustrating. Change is non-existent at times. The negative effects of the political process (e.g. Shutdown) at times can be maddening.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Change culture to empower employees. They work for the public, not for you.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    30 years with the FDA as an Investigator and as a Supervisor in many field offices.

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

    I have been working at FDA full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    The work is interesting, challenging, and rewarding. It is really nice to leave work knowing that you have made something safer. There is a lot of variety in the work - inspecting firms that make a vast variety of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, foods, cosmetics, and biological products can keep you learning new things for many years. There is also a lot of opportunities to travel abroad to do inspections of foreign manufacturers. Shoot - you could even find yourself backstage at a major rock concert inspecting the laser shows.

    Cons

    The management is laughable. Well hopefully you can just laugh at it, or you'll leave. There is a culture that is built on a complete lack of trust in any of its employees for even the most minor things. I been putting up with it for 30 years (due to the mentioned pros) and it's really sad. Worst part about it is that most of th other managers think that this is the correct way to manage the employees - to treat them all as untrusted children who need to make a special request for taking lunch outside of the prescribed time span for example just because one time one out of many abused the rules.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You have a work force filled with highly talented professionals. Try something new for a chance and treat them as such - the management style based on fear alone is not the answer. And also don't be so resistant to new approaches to getting things done!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    Thought the Center for Tobacco Products would be quick and nimble because it was new. I was wrong.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Health Communication Specialist in Rockville, MD
    Former Employee - Health Communication Specialist in Rockville, MD

    I worked at FDA full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    Government Benefits, not much required of you. The location is outside of DC so you don't have to deal with the massive traffic throughout the beltway.

    Cons

    Nothing ever gets done. You can be tasked with the same problem for a year, have solutions ready, and have a boss that just doesn't care to work any harder than absolutely possible.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do something. Get something done.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    FDA Research Assistant

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Research Assistant in Silver Spring, MD
    Former Employee - Research Assistant in Silver Spring, MD

    I worked at FDA full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    great experience, very versatile and a lot of freedom to get things accomplished.

    Cons

    Slow moving. Could use a bit more structure/communication in the hiring process.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Compensation and training more structured.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Interesting mission and work. Government bureaucracy.

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

    I have been working at FDA full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Very good opportunity for those wanting stability and work-life balance. Many people are drawn to mission focus and are dedicated to their work. If not experienced, the breadth of exposure and training opportunities are generally a plus. People are generally good.

    Cons

    Government bureaucracy and typical federal employee stereotypes exist. Career advancement can be slow and you're affected by nonsensical political by products (budgets, shutdowns). Management lacks leadership and increasingly resembles political employees the higher you go up the chain. Risk averse culture of thinking in all ways and inability of system to change for the better.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    Interdisciplinary and collaborative environment

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Orise Fellow in Silver Spring, MD
    Former Employee - Orise Fellow in Silver Spring, MD

    I worked at FDA full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Learn both practical and theoretical knowledge with the research done here, as findings at the FDA will directly impact the regulatory base for the industry

    Cons

    Process of exploring and applying findings to new papers or regulations is very slow.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Very good learning experience for the interns. Giving a list of pre-requisite readings or knowledge base would help clarify the aim of some of the projects.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    A place looking to foster nnovation and change

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Regulatory Health Project Manager in Silver Spring, MD
    Current Employee - Senior Regulatory Health Project Manager in Silver Spring, MD

    I have been working at FDA full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    New mandates providing new requirement occur every few years, makes for dynamic environment. Opportunities to work from home multiple days a week, mentoring, and training

    Cons

    Change, as with much of government, is slow. Federal funding to support non-mandated, yet needed, programs are dependent of available fiscal funds

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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