Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

www.jhuapl.edu
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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Reviews

Updated June 28, 2015
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4.1
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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Director Dr. Ralph Semmel
Dr. Ralph Semmel
50 Ratings

Pros
  • Your colleagues are brilliant and management respects a solid work/life balance (in 9 reviews)

  • good benefits but often not very good work (in 11 reviews)

Cons
  • This is a matrix organization, meaning you may have to work with several project managers as well as line manager at the same time (in 4 reviews)

  • The quality of the project managers varies (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

107 Employee Reviews

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  1. Intern

    Current Employee - Public Affairs and Communications in Silver Spring, MD
    Current Employee - Public Affairs and Communications in Silver Spring, MD

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Paid internship, friendly coworkers, can work full-time or part-time, wonderful work environment!

    Cons

    Personally, I don't have cons to share at this moment. Each department at the Lab is different.


  2. Better Than Expected!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Senior Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    I've worked in industry for about 8 years, and was extremely impressed with the environment that has been created here at APL. I have never worked at a place that cared so much about a person's happiness, and encouraged them to enrich themselves through education

    Cons

    Not much that I can think of, this is the first place that I can see myself staying at for a foreseeable future


  3. Great place to work!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Senior Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    APL is probably the best place I have ever worked. I get to work on a wide variety of projects. I get exposure to new technologies on pretty much every program I pick up. I love the work.

    Cons

    I don't love living in MD but that's where the lab is.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Executive

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

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Creative and dynamic work environment on the leading edge of technology and focused on serving the needs of the country

    Cons

    New Director of the Lab and his new team are focused on cost and extracting every ounce of flesh and energy from the team. People use to matter here and now we are lower than "meat". Benefits are being cut, programs revamped and seniority has become a joke!

    Advice to Management

    Stop talking about the value of the team and trying to set up a wide array of pet projects that look like you care and get back to the true basics of what made the lab what it is today - - - deep abiding trust in the Team and loyalty to the employees.


  6. APL review

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Engineering Intern in Laurel, MD
    Former Intern - Engineering Intern in Laurel, MD

    I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great Work Environment. Everyone is very friendly and laid back. The people there are passionate about the work that they do which creates a great atmosphere. They'll also pay for your grad school which is a big perk.

    Cons

    There were a lot of things I wasn't allowed to know about or work on because government security clearances were needed, so as an intern you might not get a full picture of the projects you are working on. The upside is, if you really need to get a security clearance they can help you get one which is helpful for other jobs in the defense industry.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work, make sure you continue to attract top tier talent by offering good compensation and excellent benefits.


  7. Tech

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

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great place to work. Very intellectual community.

    Cons

    Moving at the speed of gov.

    Advice to Management

    Work toward engaging the senior staff as much as the new hires.


  8. Solid place to work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate Professional Staff II in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Associate Professional Staff II in Laurel, MD

    I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    The biggest benefit by far is tuition reimbursement for part-time graduate degrees. Many courses in JHU's Engineering for Professionals program are taught on-site, and the paperwork is pretty seamless. You can get reimbursed for degrees from other institutions as well.

    It's generally a low-stress place to work with reasonable hours and interesting work. It was nice to be treated as a trusted partner by government clients rather than a contractor. The organizational foundation of APL is the group, and my group was very tight-knit, with many social events.

    Bosses are friendly and are genuinely interested and concerned with employees' career growth.

    Cons

    The performance appraisal process is cumbersome, and they transitioned to a quota system that ends up being political rather than merit-based. Advancement rates do not seem uniform across the different groups in the laboratory.

    It's also a place where your career can stagnate. Opportunities to advance are somewhat limited (they operate on a model of employees staying around for 40 years), and if you become the expert on one particular type of problem, you could find yourself doing that same thing for years on end.

    The matrix organization leads to a middle-heavy bureaucracy in which administrative overhead is high. There are layers of program managers and other middle managers that tax projects without adding much value to the work. It's also an extremely stovepiped organization--there is little inter-group or inter-department collaboration.

    Less important issues are that on-site cafeterias are overpriced for the quality of the food, and they eliminated the on-site library (although you can request books from other JHU libraries).

    Not necessarily a con, but the culture is pretty conservative, which you'd probably expect in a DoD-related business. When I was there, people tended to work there forever and management was dominated by older white guys. That may be changing, as there were some younger folks moving into group supervisor roles. Still, it's interesting in that it is a high-technology organization that does not really embrace change.

    Advice to Management

    Re-evaluate the performance appraisal system, and try to slim down the bureaucracy a bit to hold down rates. Figure out how to do more collaboration among groups and departments.


  9. Awesome place

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Systems Analyst Intern in Laurel, MD
    Current Intern - Systems Analyst Intern in Laurel, MD

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    I like all the opportunities they offer you. You can get a PhD or a Masters degree for free without signing a contract with them. They work on a lot of interesting things. People are very friendly. Great benefits, 401(K), health, dental insurance, retirement plan, etc. You can actually publish papers while working in here so that's good and they let you get patents too which is also good.

    Cons

    Too many old people. Food is expensive in the cafeterias.

    Advice to Management

    Give free food to employees or at least a small discount!


  10. Worked here for 5 years

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

    I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Pay is decent and the benefits were good, especially the retirement match.

    Cons

    Office space is cramped and the parking can be a bear.


  11. Exceptional place to work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Group Supervisor in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Group Supervisor in Laurel, MD

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Flexibility to direct personal career path, broad support across the organization for staff development, exceptional environment and work-life flexibility, very smart people, world of opportunities to engage on very interesting work

    Cons

    Dependent solely on government contracting processes that slow down new work opportunities, potential shuffling of staff on tasks to solve coverage issues, imbalance in work (some staff work very hard while others get away with a lot less)

    Advice to Management

    Promulgate culture across the leadership teams to make sure all staff are valued and are contributing at their highest levels by setting a high expectation



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