Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

  www.llnl.gov
  www.llnl.gov

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Reviews

Updated October 15, 2014
Updated October 15, 2014
165 Reviews
3.7
165 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Bill Goldstein
21 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • The Lab also encourages work/life balance far more than almost any other comparable job (in 27 reviews)

  • There are a lot of smart people working there - lots of higher degrees (masters & Ph (in 14 reviews)


Cons
  • It is a government facility, so you have to get used to the red tape (in 11 reviews)

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

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    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
  2.  

    Good job security job, interesting work, frustrating funding environment

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

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    LLNL has a lot of interesting and smart people working for it, and that makes for a fun and engaging environment. There's always another opportunity to go to a seminar about something you've never thought about before. The pay is also pretty good, and the benefits are great. Livermore the town is a lovely place, exactly what you would want from a wine country area.

    Cons

    It's a government lab, so there's a lot of red tape and oversight. Having the government provide the funding pipeline comes with lots of frustrations (being subject to the whims of Congress). And while there is money for great equipment, the buildings and facilities tend to be old and antiquated. The Lab doesn't strike me as agile, in a business sense.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be attuned to the Lab's "image" problems, both inside and outside.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Fantastic Internship Experience

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

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

    Pros

    Work:
    Very interesting and meaningful work
    Mentors are very helpful, intelligent, and invested in you as an intern
    Relaxed dress code
    Your abilities are taken seriously - no "underemployment" feeling
    Great poster symposium

    Area:
    Beautiful weather
    Within an hour of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose
    Newly renovated downtown

    Cons

    Pay isn't that great compared to similar work - then again, it is government and not private industry
    No help with housing

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 6 people found this helpful  

    Five years in, still my dream job

    • 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'm coming up on the second year after finishing my postdoc. My title is nothing fancier than "Computer Scientist". I have no stock options, no one drops by to give me an in-chair massage, and I have to pay for my own snacks.

    However, when I was talking to my director about how I'd be evaluated going forward, she had a simple answer: what was the impact I had, both on the wider field of computer science and the lab's mission.

    Within that remit, I've been given as much freedom as I can handle and significant, ongoing support in competing for resources. When I'm able to acquire resources (and that's not been a problem so far), I'm able to hire brilliant student interns and postdocs, buy equipment, and get significant time on some of the largest supercomputers in the world. I have access to research staff at Intel, AMD, IBM and Cray, as well as to the physicists who are trying to squeeze as much performance as they can out of our systems. I can attend the conferences I need to, whether foreign or domestic. And best of all, I can see the results of my research percolating back out into the community.

    If I were at a largish company in Silicon Valley, I expect my research would be far more practical (and much more aligned with corporate goals). If I was in academia, my work would necessarily be far more theoretical, as I wouldn't have ready access to the big machines. At the lab, I have the best of both worlds.

    On a more personal note: the people I work with are generally world-class researches in their area, and really nice. While there's the usual stress of competing for funding, we don't tend to compete against each other, so there's far more camaraderie than most academic departments. I'm finding out that the phrase "no one has tried that before" tends to follow me around, but I've never had a good idea dismissed out of hand.

    In short, I bump up against my own limitations much more than limitations imposed by the lab. As a scientist, I'm not sure I could ask for a better employer.

    Cons

    "Nimble" is not a word I would use to describe the lab. There is quite a bit of process in place, and trying novel approaches tends to run headlong into that process. I'm learning, though, that being persistent, friendly, persistent, responsive and persistent does eventually allow new science to be done, and subsequent ideas do tend to get implemented faster.

    The support staff we have tends to get cut first during downturns, as it's difficult to quantify how much time the scientific staff lose in dealing with budgets, travel, etc. That said, when I've asked for help, I've gotten it.

    I'm mostly supported by "soft money" and that's not going to change anytime soon. This does constrain how far out I can plan things like hiring, and it does focus my efforts more on winning the next grant rather than making software people will actually use.

    At a higher level, the Department of Energy is currently favoring fewer, larger projects over many smaller ones, which makes it difficult for younger scientists to get the experience they need to eventually run large projects.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Increasing the administrative staff would be a huge help.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Sep 15, 2014

    Thank you for offering up such a thoughtful review. It’s great to hear that you’re expected to make an impact, and given the freedom and support to make it happen. We will share your advice with ... More

  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    People and company are not nice to work with / for

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

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

    Pros

    Interesting scientific and national security related work

    Cons

    Poor leadership, slow in making changes, inefficient, process locked. Processes and oversight and US broken government are killing the interesting work. The management old boy network is unbelievablly strong, most of management is a bunch of yes people so the cluelessness continues with a strong surge. Many of the top rated people are so far away from top notch it is astounding.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    get rid of lots and lots of the management

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7.  

    Great Place to work

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

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

    Pros

    Lots of smart co-workers. Good interesting projects.

    Cons

    Funding cuts every few months. Some scientist have to look for a new position within the lab every few months.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 4 people found this helpful  

    Fast-paced, shifting priority interesting job with national significance

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

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

    Pros

    The people here are scary smart. We have good opportunity for career growth and development. The work-life balance is quite good. The culture here values team work.

    Cons

    Scientists change their minds a lot -- drives engineers a little nuts. There's lots of bureaucracy. The job security and benefits aren't as good as they used to be.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Decide if this is government or a business and act accordingly.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 3 people found this helpful  

    No better place to do high performance scientific computing in the world.

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

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

    Pros

    For a scientist who wants to do research involving parallel simulation, the Lab is an amazing place to be. Some of the best computer scientists in the world work in Livermore Computing, and will help you write or optimize your codes to run efficiently on the biggest supercomputers using the latest technology. Very strong scientific culture, with frequent seminars from both local researchers and invited guests. The salaries are quite good, with much better job security than you'll find in industry. (Not absolute, but far less uncertainty.)

    The Lab also encourages work/life balance far more than almost any other comparable job. People exercise, leave at a reasonable hour to spend time with their families and have generous vacation and sick leave (including family sick leave) benefits.

    Cons

    The bureaucracy can be annoying at times, particularly surrounding travel. There's less academic freedom than at a university, as most research has to tie in to the Lab's mission in some way.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The funding structure and high overhead rates impose what I view as unnecessary limitations on collaboration and innovation. If I discover that someone in another organization has expertise that can significantly contribute to my project, getting a significant fraction of their time to work with me can be difficult or impossible, due to the high effort cost and long time frame of most funding opportunities. It would be great if we had some freedom to pursue useful and interesting research across the Lab with 10-20% of our time.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great place to start a career, but no reason to stay too long

    • 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 3 years)

    Pros

    There are many smart people working here in many fields. Entry level pay and job stability and strong. The equipment you get to use, computers, science experiments is top notch. Benefits are overall very good with a high 401k match, good insurance options, twelve paid holidays and more sick time than most people can use. The problems to work on are hard and interesting and cutting edge in the field. Overall these are very strong plusses and are mostly the big things. Also, the funding situation is looking up right now with the lab not able to hire enough people quick enough (see cons) to fill open positions.

    Cons

    Many of the best people leave mid-career due to better pay, funding issues (erratic) or advancement opportunities elsewhere. While pay at the entry level is competitive the cost of living in Livermore is steep and flatter pay scale and slow salary adjustments for rising employees encourages this. While it used to make sense to stay if you had a pension now it is more worthwhile to spend 5 or so years learning a lot and moving on to greener pastures if you are really good. The result is while retention is good for mediocre or good people top talent gets poached. Many buildings are falling apart and maintenance of them is slow, compartmentalized and not always prioritized well. Vacation time is on the low end and takes a long time to increase, plus with older employees on the pension things feel very two tiered in terms of benefits. Then there is the issue with government running things so that you can be penalized for not spending all your money in a year, if something happens in Congress it ripples out etc. Also, HR and hiring are slow.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Fix up facilities. Figure out a way to have rapid advancement of technical workers including potentially paying some more than managers. Let employees float some of their holidays (we really do not need a day off in April) so they can have more discretionary vacation time. Shelter some of the government bureaucracy so that end of the year doesn't result in a race to spend money otherwise we will lose it. Streamline hiring and other HR tasks like performance reviews, which seem to be a lot of work for the little bit they impact pay.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Good bridge between industry and academic culture

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - High Energy Density Physics Intern in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - High Energy Density Physics Intern in Livermore, CA

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

    Pros

    - Lots of smart co-workers. Seriously, everyone really knows there stuff
    - Does a fairly good job of not letting national security related red tape impede daily work
    - Constant stream of seminars and talks if you're interested in such things
    - All of the long-time employees spoke of great job security

    Cons

    - It is a government facility, so you have to get used to the red tape
    - Semi-university feel could be a con for some people. There are definitely some "starry-eyed" academics around
    - Similarly, semi-business feel could be a con for academics. LLNL has all of the budgets and deadlines of industry

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue/expand programs that promote a "researchy" feel. LLNL's biggest strength is the ability to inspire employee's with exciting work that THEY feel responsible for.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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