Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

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

Updated August 1, 2015
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4.1
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Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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

111 Employee Reviews

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  1. Fantastic

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

    Great place for career growth. Supervisors motivate you to push yourself in your career and your field, and provide you with amazing opportunities for improving your skills and furthering your career. Wonderful work environment that is very casual and friendly. Great benefits - flexible hours - good staff resources. Job security - APL stands by their employees.

    Cons

    Their salaries are fair and competitive but if you're good at what you do you can probably make more money in industry. There is a lot more to a job than pulling a massive salary though.

    Advice to Management

    I honestly cannot give any advice. My management team has been excellent. My managers have provided me with good opportunities to grow as a young professional and are generally very helpful.


  2. People stay here for a long time for good reason!

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

    Pros

    APL is a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). In a nutshell, this means that APL is a non-profit solving tough critical problems for the US government mostly in the area of national security. If you want to work on tough problems, without the stink of bosses seeking bonuses and stock options, this is the place for you. If you want your work to matter to the country, this is the place for you. Every department and sector is different. It is easy to move from group to group at APL. People do it all the time. With 5,000+ jobs, it is quite easy to move to a new position. APL is away from the big cities of DC and Baltimore. You can live very nearby the lab. I live a mile away. But you are close enough to both cities to enjoy their restaurants and attractions. Lots of extracurricular activities and clubs. What other organization can say it launched satellites to Mercury and Pluto? NONE!

    Cons

    Not the place to be if all you care about is money. Trend over the last 10 years has been to more layers of management unfortunately. APL used to be a much flatter organization. Promotions don't mean much at APL because they never come with a salary increase, usually just more work and responsibility. Technical folks get elevated to managers and many of them lack the people skills necessary to do a good job. Most staff have masters or Ph.Ds. If you don't have a Ph.D., it may limit your advancement in some groups. Ask around during your interview.

    Advice to Management

    Flatten the organization. Mission areas have grown way too large. Let the staff handle more sponsor engagement and business development. Fire bad managers instead of relocating them (sometimes to higher positions!).


  3. 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.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    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


  6. Second Class Employee

    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 full-time (More than 8 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Most definitely promote diversity. APL recently had a gay-marriage ceremony in one of the main lobbies.

    Cons

    Management is an absolute cesspool. Very disappointed in this organization.


  7. 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.


  8. Helpful (3)

    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.


  9. The experience has involve a lot of professional growth.

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

    I have been working 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 organization is in a convenient place. Specially, easy commute for the residents of Howard County. In addition, APL is located 30 minutes from Baltimore and DC.

    Cons

    The current challenges as any organization that is a government contractor is the ability of secure funding. Securing funding is becoming tougher as the time progress.

    Advice to Management

    Work closely with staff and take time to know your staff.


  10. Helpful (1)

    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.


  11. 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.



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