Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

  www.llnl.gov
  www.llnl.gov

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Reviews

Updated December 16, 2014
Updated December 16, 2014
174 Reviews
3.7
174 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Bill Goldstein
24 Ratings

Review Highlights

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 Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    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
  2. 3 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

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Dec 3, 2014

    Thank you for taking the time to post such a thorough and constructive review. It is great to see that you would recommend us. We view retention as a critical issue, and efforts to streamline the ... More

  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    Good balance of interesting work and life

    • 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 5 years)

    Pros

    The work life balance is the best. The only time I have worked over 40 hours a week is when I wanted to. There will be times when people feel the need to work overtime but it is not the norm.
    The problems are interesting and feel important. Sure you can burn out on anything but there is a ton of interesting work at the lab.
    On that note, the lab has so many projects going on that if you need something new after a few years you can find something fresh to re-invigorate you.
    Finally the pay is pretty decent for the area. Yes you will get more money at the big companies further west, but the cost of living around the lab is way more in line with lab salaries than with other companies.
    Final advice, if you are a fresh grad and can grind for a bit, go to one of the big companies and make some serious dough. If you appreciate work life balance, want to spend time with your family, and want a decent quality of life, this is a great place.

    Cons

    When it comes to software engineering the lab hasn't quite figured out how to define career paths yet. They have a classification system worked out but it is only a few years new at this point and they are only just starting to define and coach employees on how one would get a promotion.
    Being a government funded facility, we are at the mercy of the federal budget. When stuff like the government shut down happens, or salaries are frozen for federal workers, it affects us.
    The frills and niceties of other companies are non-existent here. Here are some examples: when taking someone on a lunch interview, the lab will not do the courtesy of paying for your interviewees lunch, you have to pay out of your pocket; Many buildings have cramped hallways and not so nice bathrooms (not gas station bathrooms, but not nice bathrooms); Many buildings have only basic custodial services, i.e. you'll be cleaning the fridge out yourself.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great place to work with focus on work-life balance, security can be stifling at times.

    • 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 (less than an year)

    Pros

    You can do work here that just isn't possible elsewhere. I work with literally the fastest computers on the planet on projects that just wouldn't be possible anywhere else. Furthermore, there is a heavy focus on work-life balance. For example, crunch time is virtually non-existent in my group and my work schedule is extremely flexible.

    The pay is also on par with tech companies in silicon valley, the benefits are great, and I've never seen a better 401(k) package. Livermore itself is a great city to live in.

    Cons

    Security can be stifling. When I started, it was a solid month and a half before I got the full access I needed in order to do my job unencumbered. The first 4 months of my assignment were spent in a different building from my team until my security clearance was processed. These are natural parts of working for a national lab, but it was frustrating at times, especially considering the non-classified nature of my project.

    A final issue is that upward mobility can be difficult depending on your group. The lab has an abnormally large number of employees who have worked here for decades, and they tend to be chosen first for promotion regardless of skill.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    For those of us starting out at the lab, it can be frustrating that the first increase in vacation doesn't come until after 10 years of service.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Mechanical Engineer

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

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    Work-life balance is very good, there are a lot of opportunities fro personal growth, Livermore is a great place to live!

    Cons

    Inconsistent work schedules across departments.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I would like to stress to management that the one lab approach would be better than the current way of doing business. Right now there is not a consistent work schedule, i.e. some departments are on a 9/80 work schedules and some are not.

    Recommends
  7.  

    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
  8.  

    Interesting work, incredibly smart colleagues, but a little unguided for an internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Summer Student Scholar
    Former Employee - Summer Student Scholar

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

    Pros

    I was a "summer student scholar," an intern at the lab.

    Everyone at the lab is expert in what they do, and it provided a great way to connect with, get help from and collaborate with, and to get career help and recommendations from very qualified and important people in your field. Additionally, interns are well compensated and the large scale of the internship program was matched with an equally grand effort by HR to set up tours, events, resources (like housing and carpooling help) and other perks that made the experience that much easier and more rewarding.

    Cons

    Because of the large amount of sensitive work that goes on at the lab, information security is tight, and this slows down the pace of cross-department collaboration, presentation/publishing, and just the work in general noticeably. Additionally, everyone seems to be juggling a large number of projects and responsibilities, and sometimes the interns can fall through the cracks. Still, it was a great experience and a little training in working independently can be a good thing.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Great place for research and development

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Pros

    technical knowledge, team environment, work-life balance

    Cons

    budget uncertainty are a serious challenge for planning and execution

  10. 4 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
  11. 3 people found this helpful  

    There's good and there's bad

    • 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 10 years)

    Pros

    The projects you work on can be quite unique in the tech/science arena and can't be found elsewhere. You can take personal pride in working in something to help your country. The work life balance is very good, offering flexible hours, flexible schedules, 9/80s, etc. Very good maternity and paternity plans for parents. Very good retirement plan. There are a lot of super smart people here that you can work with.

    Cons

    The bureaucracy is mind numbing. Ridiculously poor performers can be kept for years because it is so hard to fire people. You are forced to do all sorts of unnecessary online training, I assume so LLNL can't get sued or something later on.

    Technical people are promoted instead of people who want to be managers. This leads to a variety of problems, most notably that they don't have time/interest in managing. If they control funding/money and have deadlines of their own, they have little interest in your interests in job mobility and career development. The word "fiefdom" culture has been strewn about a lot.

    In my division, someone was promoted on their technical merit despite the fact they did not actually want to perform managerial activities (e.g. writing performance appraisals). So a new layer of management was created beneath them to accommodate the situation. In any other company, this would be considered complete insanity, but for some reason it makes total sense to the management here.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop promoting people based on their technical ability, promote people that specifically want to be managers. In addition, when someone becomes a manager, make management 100% of their job, not 25% or 50% of their job.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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