NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
3.9 of 5 190 reviews
www.jpl.nasa.gov Pasadena, CA 5000+ Employees

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Reviews

Updated Jun 19, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.9 190 reviews

                             

83% Approve of the CEO

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Dr. Charles Elachi

Dr. Charles Elachi

(123 ratings)

88% of employees recommend this company to a friend
190 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "Also, great 403b plan and a 9/80 work schedule"
    in 12 reviews
  • "Great projects, great pay/benefits, and great work/life balance"
    in 8 reviews
Cons:
  • "There is little to no recognition for good or outstanding work"
    in 3 reviews
  • "Budget cuts are a constant threat"
    in 4 reviews
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

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    Lack of money

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsExciting area, smart people, one or two facilities are nice and new, cafeteria on campus easy for lunch.

    ConsNot a lot of money, dont get paid much at all. People dont get things done on time, everything is very old there, including the people.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGet more money.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Generally, a wonderful place to work

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
    Pasadena, CA

    ProsUnique, meaningful, one-of-a-kind work; passionate employees, committed to excellence; casual work environment; flexible schedule

    ConsLeadership is poor, starting at the top; individual contributors are successful in spite of the lack of support from management who is completely out of touch

    Advice to Senior ManagementSee above.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Truly a unique and rewarding place to work

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsAt JPL we get to do some of the most extraordinary things with a bunch of extraordinary people. I've touched hardware that flew to 3 different planets, and that's special.

    ConsWhenever your work is supported by the public's purse politics is involved, which leads to a lot of confusion and sometimes absurd decision making.

    Advice to Senior ManagementFire HR

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    • Culture & Values
           
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    Amazing place to work

    Principal Engineer (Current Employee)
    Pasadena, CA

    ProsYou get to work with some of the best minds in engineering and science on projects so unique that they routinely yield innovative new technologies.

    ConsVery much a university environment with government bureaucracy, which can be frustrating if you forget why you're there.

    Advice to Senior ManagementBe more aggressive about cutting fat quickly, so that middle management can spend more of each fiscal year thinking about growth instead of how to protect headcount.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Great

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    Prosgreat work environment. great people. rewarding work.

    Consthe buzards, snakes, jerry, young melving, bug, rug, slug, internet

    Advice to Senior Managementdadfa

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    Amazing science and brilliant minds-- but combined with horrible management that takes credit for your work.

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
    Pasadena, CA

    ProsThe scientific discoveries and the feats of modern technology and engineering have come from some of the most brilliant minds today, and these discoveries happen all the time at the laboratory, and make it one of the mot fascinating places to work, at least some of the time.

    ConsThere are almost too many to include here. Management in several divisions throughout the laboratory treats its employees liike they were in fifth grade. If, due to office politics or funding issues, a manager wants you gone, he/she will make that happen, regardless of employee wrongdoing or not. It is a ridiculous place to work when months can go by and none of your management has taken the time to utter one word to you. (And yes, this includes "hello.") Very little respect or time to speak with direct supervisors- they are always too busy or too cowardly to tell you what is really going on. Ugh..

    Advice to Senior ManagementBe leaders and mentors: not babysitters. Have some respect for the people who work very hard for you, as many of them might have more degrees and experience than you do. Please give credit o the people who have done the work- PLEASE stop reporting to higher-ups and taking credit for others' work.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
           
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    Incredible history with stale and weary management

    Systems Engineer (Current Employee)
    Pasadena, CA

    Pros- It is the only place I have ever worked where (and it is up to the individual's effort and contribution), the opportunities and lessons are extraordinary and unique.
    - The talent, dedication and commitment of some of the people have been inspiring and motivating. The knowledge and experience of some of the folks who have been around create fantastic mentoring opportunities.
    - The technology and mission studies are cutting edge.
    - Relatice to industry, the pay is "comparable", it's not as high but they don't work you to death. Very relax hours and flexibility in schedules. Excellent benefits package and retirement through TIAA-CREF.

    ConsAlthough one can learn a lot, career growth is limited, as well as compensation. JPL does not reward on performance. You are ranked based on performance but actual raises are based on the availability of funds by divisions.
    After more 10 years, you have to find a personal reason to want to make the effort. I fall in the group of folks who see this place as a way to gain experience and improve my resume. I have people around me who show up (and that's a big if), do the minimum and contribute only when necessary. It can be demoralizing sometimes.
    And as a woman, this place is sexist. It is still very much an old boys club and those inside, work very hard to keep others out. I see some incredible leaders and some are women, but the pervasive sexist mentality is what brings the place down.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStop building a new layer of management to accommodate existing managers who don't "have" a specific role. You are paying someone to create and attend meeting, how many "deputies" do you need?
    The current morale is low, compounded by the bullying by some of the managers. If an employees brings an issue up, the answer is not, if you don't like it, leave. Ethics has been a joke and no help.
    You are firing those with experience and frustrating the younger people who want to contribute. All you have left are people who give you lip service, the worker bees are leaving the nest. Take heed!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Excellent, challenging projects with brilliant people to work with but not perfect.

    Mechanical Engineer (Former Employee)
    Pasadena, CA

    ProsExcellent infrastructure, good benefits, rewarding and challenging projects, great resources.

    ConsWhispers and back room office politics and work 'clicks' make it difficult to climb the ranks, compensation, promotions or salary bumps minimal. Flight projects require long hours w/ minimal overtime pay/compensation. Culture of arrogance runs deep through all levels and divisions, especially through management ranks.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGive people outside the usual work 'clicks' opportunities to succeed or fail before excluding them from positions or projects. It's fine to be smart and have confidence but reduce the arrogance it is unnecessary and your employees will resent you less and work harder and may even stick around longer term.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • Career Opportunities
           

     

    Internship Expectations

    Affiliate (Former Employee)
    Pasadena, CA

    ProsThere are many opportunities to get your foot in the door at JPL. Internships are one way.

    ConsDon't set your expectations too high. Due to budgeting constraints, it would seem that underfunded projects are utilizing the talent pool to get work done with no expectation to hire upon completion. My mentor was not born in America for for which there is a special designation assigned to these employees; beware.

    Advice to Senior ManagementI was led to believe several times by various individuals that there would be continuity upon completion of my internship - that there would be other opportunities to dovetail into . I would suggest that management instruct mentors to be more upfront and set the expectation level appropriately. There is nothing worse than being left in the dark for six months left to your own perception of what may or what may not be the reality of the situation. I would classify the whole experience as somewhat 'shady'.

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    Hit or miss

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
    La Canada Flintridge, CA

    ProsAs an intern, I was given many opportunities to meet important people--vice presidents, mission managers, important scientists, and the like in professional development workshops. There really is a good culture of educating interns as the next generation of JPL employees.

    ConsMost of my time here was spent laboring under fruitless, underfunded science projects. But the technologists here were insular enough that I could not seek opportunities elsewhere.

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