Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Reviews

Updated March 19, 2015
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3.8
181 Reviews
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Bill Goldstein
27 Ratings

Pros
  • The Lab also encourages work/life balance far more than almost any other comparable job (in 28 reviews)

  • There are a lot of smart people working there - lots of higher degrees (masters & Ph (in 15 reviews)

Cons
  • Beware: you will drown in red tape which comes first over science (in 13 reviews)

  • Slow to change because of older employee base but they are changing (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    4 people found this helpful

    Great place to build a career

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    I came hare first as a student, then I was a postdoc for a year, and I've been research staff at LLNL for 4 years now.

    The thing I love most about working here is the people. I work with incredibly smart, motivated people on a daily basis, both in my field (computer science) and out (physicists, chemists, and other scientists). I get to work on some of the largest supercomputers in the world, and I get to have an impact on the design of parallel applications that run on thousands or millions of processors at once. There just aren't that many places you can do that, and there are fewer where the experts in the field are right around the corner.

    The problems LLNL tackles are not only interesting, they're important to national security, which makes them more fulfilling in a lot of ways. Saving the world from asteroid attacks? People here are working on that. Exploring new states of matter and new ways to build predictive simulations for it? That too. Working in High Performance Computing will expose you to new fields and directions you just don't get out of a typical CS degree, and you'll gain valuable experience by working on projects like these. If you're not as interested in mission-driven science, LLNL supports lots of basic science research, too.

    If you are planning to build a career here, you should know that LLNL is a great place for entrepreneurial scientists. If you are interested in building something, and if you have the drive and motivation to stick with it, you can come here, start your own project, and build a team to pursue your vision. As an example: many labs do not allow postdocs to apply for their own funding, but at LLNL it is encouraged. Postdocs can apply for internal Lab-Directed Research and Development funding (LDRD), and once you're staff, you can pursue a number of external competitive proposal calls from the DOE Office of Science. There are also opportunities to get long-term programmatic funding for your project, if it turns out to be successful.

    Cons

    It can be difficult to figure out exactly how the lab works. If you're the type of person who comes in, talks to people, and asks a lot of questions, you'll quickly learn by word of mouth. As far as documentation for new employees, or a road map for your career, well, the lab's not so good at that. It's up to you -- the lab rewards initiative, but if you don't have a lot of it, you may quickly find yourself lost. The lab is working on this with efforts like a recent "Lab 101" course for early career employees. They take you through the funding landscape and the national priorities that drive the lab.

    Everyone at LLNL is busy, and hiring is slow. It's often hard to staff a new project if you get it funded, but the lab is working hard to change this, with more pipeline hires and fewer administrative hurdles to jump through.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The "Lab 101" course should be mandatory material for new staff and postdocs. Hiring should be accelerated to staff new projects and to reduce the often slow spin-up time. New employees should be made aware of all the opportunities in front of them -- I think a lot of people come to LLNL and miss out.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Feb 10, 2015

    It’s great to hear the perspective of someone who has worked here as a student, postdoc and staff researcher. Thank you for sharing. It’s also good to hear you’ve benefitted from the Lab 101 course ... More

  2. I learned a lot, got assigned to different projects

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Former Employee - Scientist in Livermore, CA

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    1. It's a research environment so work is laid back compared to a corporate world.
    2. Most co-workers are competent, good to work with -- not too stressed out.

    Cons

    It's a government contractor, so there's the bureaucracy you would expect from anything having to interact with the federal government.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You're doing okay, just make sure to modernize - like allowing cell phones onsite.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  3. High end security for retailers

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Security Guard in Las Vegas, NV
    Former Employee - Security Guard in Las Vegas, NV

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Awesome coworkers and got to network with lots of clients.

    Cons

    Standing all day and odd shifts.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep doin what you're doin.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
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  5. leading edge work plus bureaucracy

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    first-rate colleagues, exciting research in progress, excellent computer facilities, flexible hours, nearby housing is cheaper than most San Francisco Bay Area locations.

    Cons

    Heavy-handed unproductive "oversight" by the Department of Energy, lots of rules, generally unhelpful and unfriendly Bechtel-based upper management culture.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Try to be more open about what you're doing and why.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  6. 2 people found this helpful

    Terrific place to work!!

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

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    If you want to be a part of something bigger, doing something that has never been done to better the world, this is the place to work. And unlike somewhere in industry, everyone is so much more cooperative with each other. It's very inspiring.

    Cons

    May work for a long time and the project doesn't pan out...but that's research for you!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. A vibrant ecosystem of talented scientists and engineers working on multidisciplinary problems.

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

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The ability to work with a wide variety of people with varying skills.

    Cons

    A sometimes narrow and short-sighted focus on research directions that prohibits adequate investment for real impact.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  8. 1 person found this helpful

    Very good overall experience

    Current Employee - Research Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Research Engineer in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Pros

    Very high level of technical competence of all employees. Interesting projects

    Cons

    have to "sell" your ideas to government agencies

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    minimize beurocracy

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. Valuable Summer for Student Interns

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Intern - Laser Science, Optics, and Targeting in Livermore, CA
    Current Intern - Laser Science, Optics, and Targeting in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    Cutting Edge Research, Lots of Professional Enrichment Programs

    Cons

    Can be isolated, intimidating employees

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep up the good work! Lab is run well

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful

    Great place to do research while maintaining life-work balance

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Researcher in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Researcher in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    Good work environment, great work-life balance, decent benefits. If you want to do the kind of research they do at NIF or need super-computer muscle then this is one of the best places to be at.

    Cons

    It is a national lab so there is a lot of friction and red tape. Tasks that would be easy elsewhere might require significant effort here.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 5 people found this helpful

    I really enjoy working at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories; the work is exciting and rewarding - I look forward to solving the new challenges I am sure to be faced with everyday.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Project Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Project Engineer in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    One of the great things about working here is getting to work on new science and technology. There is amazing diversity in the work that is conducted at the lab, which gives employees plenty of opportunity to try something or learn something new... All the while working with some of the smartest people you will ever meet. The atmosphere is more collaborative than competitive in most areas of the lab, which is essential to making some of the great things we do everyday possible. The culture at the lab is also very supportive of work life balance, which is important to myself and my family.

    Cons

    The lab has been around for a long time and there is a lot of tribal knowledge that can be hard to understand at first. We are also required to comply with many different mandates from many different organizations, which can fell like a lot of red tape at times (but a good understanding of the system and how it works can make this manageable).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Walk the floors (on a regular basis) and talk to the individuals working there (some managers do this better than others)... You will learn a lot about employees moral, you will begin to understand their concerns, their questions, and what motivates them.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Dec 3, 2014

    Great summary of the pros and cons of working here. It’s fantastic to hear that you value the diversity of work here and our culture of supporting work-life balance. Thank you for sharing with ... More

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