Harvard University Reviews

Updated July 27, 2015
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Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust
Drew Gilpin Faust
260 Ratings

Pros
  • Good opportunity for work-life balance (in 47 reviews)

  • Harvard University have a wide array of great benefits such as retirement plan and subsidized education at several Harvard coursed (in 51 reviews)

Cons
  • Finding a work-life balance can be tough (in 18 reviews)

  • low pay per hour (considering Boston is such a high-cost place) (in 15 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

633 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    HBS: Not too bad for the money

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Desk Jockey in Allston, MA
    Current Employee - Desk Jockey in Allston, MA

    I have been working at Harvard University

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Everyone says the benefits are great, but if you don't have a family, then who really cares? I just want to go to the doctor when I'm sick or the dentist so my teeth don't get jacked up. The best reason is really the flexibility of the managers. Most managers don't care if you need to take time off last minute, want to work from home, or need to leave early. It's also nice to have access to free education through the Harvard Extension school and also through the University. There are also some good attempts at "practical" training through the Center for Workplace Development. Plus, if you're a member of the union, you get a raise (about 5%) every year. There are also a LOT of hotties working at HBS.

    Cons

    It can be a little stiff in the upper levels of management, and there's a culture of "we have it the worst" in most units: i.e. most offices love to think that no one appreciates them and that they get no respect. The other downside is that you can freeze your ass off in the winter if you take public transportation because there are big gaps between the bus stops and the tunnels.

    Advice to Management

    Keep it up. Take a peek at the compensation of the staff every once in a while -- I realize that the faculty compensation is important, as they're the big draw (aside from the brand), but it would be pretty sweet if HR wasn't so stingy about giving folks some raises.


  2. Helpful (1)

    Excellence at work

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

    I have been working at Harvard University

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Harvard is a world class institution with smart people, abundant resources and outstanding opportunities for personal and professional growth. The culture within my own academic setting is diverse and respectful of divergent views. Benefits are excellent and life/work balance is taken seriously.

    Cons

    The university is very decentralized; traditionally organized as 'every tub on its bottom'. It can be tough to navigate the landscape but there is encouragement for greater cooperation across units.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work! As a relative newcomer I am impressed with president Faust's messages encouraging collaboration and innovation across the university.


  3. Great place to work while figuring out the next step.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Staff Assistant in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Staff Assistant in Cambridge, MA

    I worked at Harvard University

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Being an academic institution, the opportunities to further your education are almost endless. The growth of one's career is somewhat limited. It is a perfect place for someone just out of college and still doesn't know what s/he wants to do for a career...or is switching careers. I was able to take many classes at Harvard's continuing education for a small amount. After several years of service and with management approval, you can take classes at the university itself.

    Cons

    The name 'Harvard' leads to much pretension. The university is so big that you often don't see your direct impact on the world (if that is what you seek).

    Advice to Management

    Give staff more opportunities to advance their career and job level.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    The Berkman Center is a really awesome political research group.

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

    I worked at Harvard University

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    The work they do advances political freedom all over the world via the Internet. They research all the current technologies and law that might interfere with the freedoms of information that the Internet can provide, and advance studies to tell Congress what's going on. While I worked there, I really felt like I was part of a great idea that was really relevant and helpful to society. I also loved all the other interns I worked with. They are a really sharp bunch undergraduate and graduate law students.

    Cons

    It's a small organization and the building is not airconditioned during the summer.

    Advice to Management

    They did a good job.


  6. Harvard: A great place to work for so many reasons!

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

    I have been working at Harvard University

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Benefits, Benefits, Benefits! Harvard is known for this but the other great advantage are your fellow employees. There are so many interesting, quality people who work here it's been a joy to come to the office. I find the questions and challenges I face in my job to be interesting as well. We're in tough times right now in every sector but all the same at Harvard there are the resources to try new things within your organization and in general the senior management is excited to hear about new and better ways to approach problems. Harvard's also a meritocracy in the truest sense. Talent is rewarded in ways that aren't possible in most Higher Education Institutions in Boston.

    Cons

    There is only so far someone not in a faculty position can go at Harvard. If you are a manager and want to move up, there's only so far you can go. I also feel like the biggest challenge at Harvard is communication. Almost every part of the University faces this problem.

    Advice to Management

    Think more carefully on providing more uniform job bands across the University. There is too much variation between the schools about what different roles and functions are. I would also ask the senior management to think more broadly about ways for improving communication across the University.


  7. Great benefits and access to world class resources

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Assistant in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Research Assistant in Boston, MA

    I worked at Harvard University

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Great benefits and access to world class resources. Working with leading experts on international issues. Tuistion assistance at Harvard Extension School is another huge benefit.

    Cons

    Personally, the research was interesting but after a while became slow moving. If you enjoy a wide range of issues this may not be the place for you as the work tends to be specialized.

    Advice to Management

    Facilitate a system for research staff to work on interdisciplinary teams around the entire university to escape the silos of single departments.


  8. Helpful (4)

    Pretty good kinda great and a place to settle...

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

    I have been working at Harvard University

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    1) Working at Harvard feels good because of Harvard's history and standing. 2) Pay is very good for the level of effort required for most positions. 3) Hours for most position are good, 9-5, with flex timer, comp time, or overtime if you work outside those hours. 4) Health benefits are good. 5) Harvard has a lot of things to do on and around campus for employees. Gym access, library access, museum access is all for free or at a reduced price. 6) Harvard square is very nice. The area around the university is well-to-do and has shops and 7) Adjacent to Boston and everything a major city should have. Sports, entertainment, et cetera.

    Cons

    1) It is hard to get a job at Harvard...less than 2% of job applicants are accepted. It is harder to get a job at Harvard than get into the school. This counts for promotions as well. Most moves are lateral promotions or small promotions in different areas. People work for 10 years at the Law School and then get another job at the Education school for slightly more money. There is no direct line of promotion. 2) Cambridge is expensive. Harvard pays a good salary at every job level but it still is not enough to own a house in the area. Cambridge is a great place but most employees have to commute. Renting is easy enough in Cambridge but if you want a bigger place or a to own your own home you will have to commute at least 30 minutes if not closer to an hour. Trains are good though... 3) This barely a con but working at Harvard dominates your life. You will hear the word Harvard a 100 times a day, see crimson Hs all over the place, and might even get Harvard overload. Some people do not like it. But this is not a real problem for most people ...after all...saying you work at Harvard is awesome. 4) Some of the people at Harvard are flaky. The Harvard name attracts all sorts for really cool people to pompous snobs who have nothing to really be pompous or snobby about other than working at Harvard. But the proverbial 9 out of 10 employees (and students) are really nice people. The local Cambridge people are definitely weird crunchy types though...

    Advice to Management

    Hire less people, give the current people more work, and pay them more.


  9. A great place to work.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Assistant Director in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Assistant Director in Cambridge, MA

    I have been working at Harvard University

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    So many lifers - it's impressivre. Great benefits, great training and upward movement possibilities. You make more in higher ed if you're at Harvard.

    Cons

    Because of the economy, there have been layoffs, so most departments are at max capacity.

    Advice to Management

    Dress-down Fridays, please.


  10. Staff Assistant Review

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

    I have been working at Harvard University

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Very supportive environment, great co-workers and work/life balance. Compensation is very competitive.

    Cons

    Very decentralized, makes some projects difficult.

    Advice to Management

    None


  11. Fantastic place to work and do research - though it may depend slightly on what you are with.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Assistant II in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Research Assistant II in Boston, MA

    I worked at Harvard University

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Weekly happy hours!; very collegial atmosphere; specifically, my PI was a wonderful, caring, and reasonable person to work for and I was very satisfied with the way I was treated.

    Cons

    It is worth noting that one's working experience at HMS may be influenced by the PI you specifically work for. I consider myself very fortunate with the PI I worked with, though I did occasionally hear from others some dissatisfaction with theirs.

    Advice to Management

    None.



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