NSF Reviews

Updated April 24, 2015
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  1. Good place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Science Assistant in Arlington, VA
    Current Employee - Science Assistant in Arlington, VA

    I have been working at NSF

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Friendly people who are very willing to help or teach. Everyone has a willingness to help others and are open to questions. Very flexible work schedule.

    Cons

    Pay could be higher, there are some slow days, parking situation is not great.

  2. Program officer managing science grants programs

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Arlington, VA
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Arlington, VA

    I have been working at NSF

    Pros

    Work is on important national projects

    Cons

    Management is ill equipped to deal with the challenges

  3. Helpful (1)

    Overall, a great place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Science Assistant in Arlington, VA
    Current Employee - Science Assistant in Arlington, VA

    I have been working at NSF

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Collegiate atmosphere, very intellectually stimulating, lots of freedom to work in different groups. It's hard to get bored, if you're educated and part of the science staff.

    Cons

    Very weirdly stratified. The only colored faces you're going to see will be admin staff, security, and mail room. Science and management staff is mostly PhD, male, white - despite open talks about diversity.

    If you have a MS, like I do, there are very few position open to you, and when you find one, it's temporary with zero career path or opportunity for advancement.

    Advice to Management

    Create career paths for people w/MS degrees. We love science and have skills and could really benefit the organization.

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  5. Helpful (1)

    Generally decent work environment. Limited career opportunities for operational and administrative staff

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

    I have been working at NSF full-time (More than 3 years)

    Neutral Outlook
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Great place for learning about upcoming research trends. A generally laidback environment.

    Science and technology-related events are interesting and informative.

    Cons

    NSF culture is very "Upstairs, Downstairs". Most research staff members are very entitled and openly diminish and express disdain toward operational/administrative staff.

    Career development and advancement for operational and administrative staff is unofficially discouraged and not viewed as a priority.

    There are no clear career progression paths because every department and division operates in a slightly different manner. Job roles and functions are often defined on an individual basis despite being in the same government professional series and having the same job title.

  6. Flexible research and programming for a software developer

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA
    Former Intern - Software Engineer in Fairfax, VA

    I worked at NSF as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    I was assigned to one of three sites available for the NSF REU internship. The first week, the professor who interviewed me introduced me to his grad students and their projects they were working on. I was given the power to choose which of the projects I found interesting based on which I thought I could add a lot of value to. I worked along side the grad students in their computer lab. They were very nice and receptive if I needed assistance in programming something.
    The work environment was flexible. I was able to choose the amount of hours I worked.

    Cons

    I stayed at a dorm and the GMU campus is secluded from the city
    Must take bus to go anywhere
    Hard to get groceries
    Not many food places open in the summer on campus
    the bathroom lights automatically turn off until the sensor is triggered at the entrance, this resulted in many #2's taken in total darkness because the campus is empty during the summer

    Advice to Management

    Some things about the network of GMU could have been better for someone foreign to campus. I had no internet until I got an ID and my stipend took a lot of time to be processed in their financial service because it was their first year doing this internship.

  7. Helpful (2)

    Is there hope for the Public Affairs office?

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

    I worked at NSF

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    NSF's mission (funding the nation's fundamental research in STEM and associated education) cannot be beat, and there are few places with as many talented, intelligent, collegial, and well-educated staff. And, there has been recent progress addressing serious leadership and management failures in the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs (OLPA). After 6 members of Congress alerted NSF leadership in 2013 of serious EEOC violations and retaliation against whistleblowing that the MSPB (Merit Systems Protection Board) is investigating -- and that were the focus of two recent IG audits -- in relation to personnel actions by a manager and the head of OLPA, NSF did the following:
    (1) Terminated the OLPA head in Dec. 2014 and began a nationwide search for a competent leader with experience in congressional and legislative matters, and
    (2) Motivated by OLPA's two consecutive years of the lowest FEVS (Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey) ratings among all 7 NSF offices/directorates, NSF hired an organizational analyst in fall 2014 (and plans to hire another) to examine staff diversity issues and NSF's decade-long downward slide on the annual FEVS, which dropped the formerly favored agency precipitously from its 2004 and 2005 rating as 4th "best small-size federal agency at which to work" to "12th best mid-size federal agency at which to work" (2012 and 2013), led by OLPA's declining staff morale and lack of staff trust in the OLPA head and public affairs manager.

    Cons

    OLPA's continuing toxic work environment continues to "paralyze" staff and is sustained by a chronic state of fear whose source is one particular manager. The adverse impact is objectively demonstrated by (1) OLPA's two consecutive years of the lowest FEVS ratings among all of the agency's offices, and (2) a very low productivity in the public affairs section, in particular; the number of press releases and other informative PR materials and resources that are generated on a daily basis is well below the capacity of the highly paid (GS 13-14) staff of 10. Only 2-3 appear to be productive.

    Advice to Management

    Continue "cleaning house" regarding management of OLPA's public affairs section.

  8. Very very disappointing if not in a science directorate; not a good place if you're looking to advance your career

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

    I have been working at NSF full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    - Great training
    - Great benefits and flexible schedule
    - Excellent location
    - Great job security for federal contractors and independent contractors. Many contractors have been independent contractors at NSF for more than a decade (especially in IT)

    Cons

    - Very cliquish due to common practices of converting federal contractors to government employees/staff = if you're hired from outside of NSF, you may not be staying long
    - Same senior management staff maintaing the same position for many many years = things don't change much
    - Very low rate of hiring and keeping external candidates due to the unconventional culture = things don't change much
    - Common inappropriate and unethical hiring practices (the old "I'd like to hire my buddy b/c he/she is my buddy and not b/c they are qualified" behavior) = it can be lonely if you're not part of the clique
    - Insane amounts of discriminatory practices (shocking even to the majority) = the union and outside legal staff may be your best friends if you're part of a certain ethnicity group. Your perceived race is your resume and determines your performance reviews and ability to communicate with senior or executive staff. Prepare to get your red stapler..
    - Very under-qualified management staff with lack of accountability = they can do what they want without fear
    - Very difficult to advance your career due to the under-qualified management staff = only chance to get promoted may be looking for outside employment

    Advice to Management

    Change leadership; hire more qualified management staff; address the discriminatory practices before it costs the tax payers ...is a good start.

  9. Great Work Environment

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Science Assistant in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Science Assistant in Arlington, VA

    I worked at NSF full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Mentally stimulating, interesting work, good time-off policies

    Cons

    Little room for growth with out a PhD

    Advice to Management

    Fantastic company - miss it!

  10. Good place to work.

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at NSF

    Pros

    Great experience, team work and camaraderie.

    Cons

    Relocation to a new place, a lot to learn in short time.

  11. Overall, this was a great experience.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Summer Scholar in Arlington, VA
    Former Intern - Summer Scholar in Arlington, VA

    I worked at NSF as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Opportunities to network are very high. So many people there are incredibly smart, PhDs, professors, scientists, you name it, the organization has got it! Opportunity to make an impact is great, too. Lots of interesting seminars and workshops were held weekly, in order to push your personal professional development.

    Cons

    I worked in a cubicle, so I didn't have as much people to people interaction as I would have liked. Also, very big, so you were more likely to get lost in the building. A lot of bureaucracy for sure. Not enough diversity. either.

    Advice to Management

    More training would have been great.

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