Howard Hughes Medical Institute

  www.hhmi.org
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Howard Hughes Medical Institute Reviews in Ashburn, VA

Updated Jul 9, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

4.0 9 reviews

100% Approve of the CEO

Howard Hughes Medical Institute President Robert Tjian

Robert Tjian

(2 ratings)

78% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Great benefits package even though its gotten more expensive each year for the past few years(in 15 reviews)

  • Most managers promote work/life balance(in 5 reviews)


Cons
  • Career development is completely dependent on whether or not your supervisor supports your development(in 4 reviews)

  • Personal growth is not encouraged and career opportunities are few and far between(in 3 reviews)

9 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews
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    Janelia Farms academic internship

    Research Assistant (Former Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsWOW, this place is fantastic. There is an on-site gym and convenience store, roof-top gardens, the views from the building are unbeatable (and the building is stunning as well). The environment is designed to encourage discussion between all the different disciplines at Janelia, the lunch room consists of several very large round tables where you often meet new people and discuss what you are working on. There is an on-site cafeteria that serves up delicious food at at very cheap cost, and all fruit/coffee/tea is free. Bright Horizons is also on-site. If you have the opportunity to work here, it is well worth it.

    ConsOne downside is that the pay for technicians is on the lower side of the spectrum. However, with all the added bonuses that come along with working there it makes it very worthwhile.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Great salaries for a non-profit; stellar benefits; stimulating scientific environment.

    Senior Software Engineer (Former Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsBeautiful campus. Fun and well thought out social events. There's a gym with classes, great salad bar in the cafeteria and restaurant with prices from the 1980s. Decent social scene at the on-site restaurant if you live on campus, considering you're in the suburbs.

    ConsEven PIs don't have great job security since they're reviewed every 5-6 years (there's no tenure here). Not quite as laid back as a University and doesn't have the same feel as a University . The non-scientists (which probably outnumber the scientists) work 9-5 and do not dress like they're in academia, which allows a little bit of a corporate feel to sneak in which is completely missing in a University setting. And somewhat ironically the support staff, HR and core facility people have more job security than the scientists, even though science is the core mission of HHMI.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    3 people found this helpful  

    Poor leadership, almost purposeful sabotage

    Laboratory Assistant (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsThe benefits are awesome, quite liberal with sick leave and PTO, and generous holidays. A beautiful campus (Ashburn) obviously showcasing HHMI's endowment fund, great work life for the main scientists, and free coffee/tea with subsidized food.

    ConsPeople are clique-y and gossipy perhaps due to the terrible communications and lack of transparency, even within a single project meant to be working together. As others have mentioned, the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing and people are often very secretive even with information needed collaboratively. The company obviously sucks up to visiting scientists and bigwigs to save face, but they will turn on you in an instant and kick you to the curb --regardless of your contributions to the company. Heaven forbid you are anyone without a PhD, who are treated lower than dirt.

    There's almost a draconian form of management and they have lost many a great talent and minds because they refuse to address what makes employees unhappy; morale is low campus-wide and management is in a constant state of denial. There is almost always a constant power struggle at every level, such that work can't be done without people bickering. Actual teamwork is rare.

    There isn't any room for growth; it is almost as if they purposely keep you down and out of the loop so that you can't command more recognition. A person could be denied a promotion or a better opening because they could use you at that lower position with lower pay. If you were such a valuable asset, why not treat you as such so you won't leave? Even if you put in long hours, contribute so much to a project, it is doubtful to get any recognition; deadlines can be missed and key members can be lost just because personal conflicts can't be resolved.

    Their reasoning for salaries/titles are ridiculous and not merit-based; if you can bear it long enough, you will get rewarded in the long run by time alone, not effort, hard work, or contributions. Little incentive to be loyal to a leader that is not loyal to its employees. When being surrounded by luxury and money being thrown around, denials due to budget restrictions and menial salaries seem at odds with the company values.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGood benefits do not always make up for terrible salaries. Find reasons why employees are not engaged, maybe you won't have to spend so much on sick time. Cut the passive aggression throughout the building. Stop playing favorites and babying PhDs to save face. Develop and promote teamwork. Improve scientific communication and transparency within building. Give rewards based on merit, contribution, and effort; not on things done in the past, a person's background, or connections.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    research campus

    Research Associate (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    Prosenough funding
    it is a very good place for scientific research, without worrying funding issue. The payment will allow you to enjoy it.

    Constoo isolated, and research is very focused.

    Advice to Senior Managementit is good now, and no more improvements are necessary.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Top notch science but poor management

    Research Technician I (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsJanelia is a beautiful campus with beautiful landscaping. Good benefits and somewhat subsidized food.

    ConsNo chance of moving up. There is no career path here, you stay at the same position that you are hired at. Upper management will tell you almost anything to keep you where you are and to convince you that you are not worth any promotion or raise. Benefits are getting cut left and right but still better than other places. HR is mostly made up of really incompetent people who don't respond to emails or spell things correctly.

    Advice to Senior ManagementDon't talk down to your employees. Retain the good people or at least reward them for good work.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Highly recommend it, have loved it here!

    Research Technician (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsAmazing place to work. You'll be working with the top minds in neuroscience. The people are really smart and everyone is very friendly. There is lots of funding, and the facilities are top notch. The entire complex is brand new, and the architecture is stunning! You can also use the gym and other campus facilities even if you don't live on campus. Food is great at the Servery (lunch room) and there's Bob's (the pub) which serves fantastic dinner and drinks at prices that are next to nothing. Also, HHMI has really great health insurance.

    ConsOverall the pace is intense, and that be intimidating and/or tiring sometimes. Everyone is friendly, but with such a high calibre group of people, competition can become an issue in some cases. This honestly happened a lot less the I would have expected given the number of eminent PIs working so closely with each other.

    If you live on campus, it's like its own universe, a car is required to get groceries, go out, etc, and there's not much to do in Ashburn (there is one great brewery though!)

    Advice to Senior ManagementPlease fix the roof terrace gardens. The place would be beautiful if those gardens weren't dead most of the the time, even in mid summer. They should be a central feature of Janelia's overall look, instead they always look like brown half dead shrubbery. I can't understand why anyone would build such a fantastic building but leave the landscaping half-baked!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    great place to conduct research

    Postdoctoral Associate (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsAble to meet and cooperate with the most outstanding researchers around the world. Great research environment. Awesome benefits. Unbeatable learning experiences.

    ConsA bit isolated. Salaries not as good as working for industrial companies.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Top notch researchers, equipment and management working on the biggest problems in neuroscience.

    Associate (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsQuality of co-workers and managers is uniformly high. Pay scale is set significantly above market, relative to academia, long-term stability of funding, 17 billion $ endowment, good health-care and other benefits. Semi-subsidized food and housing on the Janelia Farm research campus.

    ConsJanelia Farm location can be insulating. While good for raising a family, not a great place for single people. Some of the less famous group leaders may lose funding in the middle of your project. Salaries are below market relative to industry.

    Advice to Senior ManagementContinue to raise salaries to prevent poaching by big data firms.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    2 people found this helpful  

    Great if you're a scientist. Otherwise, I advise looking elsewhere.

    Lab Coordinator (Former Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsBeautiful facility, highly intelligent employees, decent starting pay, great benefits.

    ConsUnless you are one of the scientists, you are not valued. You are basically expected to treat the Lab Heads like Gods. Even the Lab Heads who come in with good personalities soon learn the power they have and take full advantage of it - and become high maintenance prima donnas. There are no salary increases despite solid performance - or the inability to identify what wasn't solid about your performance. There are a ton of politics at play and you cannot trust anyone; even those you think are your friends. Too much drama and stress. Absolutely no reliable communication.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStop taking home big paychecks for doing nothing more than delegating everything to those below you and then basically laughing at them while you get away with doing nothing. Treat all people with respect. Rules and policies shouldn't vary from one person to the other such that one person can do something and be praised for it and another person can do the same thing and be written up for it. Do a better job of weeding out the bad seeds in management roles....there are many and you are turning a blind eye to it.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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