National Democratic Institute

  www.ndi.org
  www.ndi.org

National Democratic Institute Reviews in Washington, DC

Updated September 12, 2014
Updated September 12, 2014
45 Reviews
3.0
45 Reviews
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Kenneth Wollack
32 Ratings

27 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Bureaucracy for a good cause.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Program Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Program Manager in Washington, DC

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great people who mostly mean well.
    Awesome benefits.
    Nice plants in the office.
    Free coffee.

    Cons

    All encompassing bureaucracy makes it impossible to get things done.
    Way too many long term "time serving" employees.
    Terrible vending machines.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pay attention to junior employees.
    Stop empire building.
    Improve morale. Friday Fun days just don't cut it.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2.  

    Awful management!

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

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very passionate people but ultimately work is often hindered by egos of management and directors. I learned a lot because I had to become a manager since the director was incapable of completing simple administrative tasks or managing people. Junior staff are incredible, including interns and project assistants.

    Cons

    Directors have egos and don't know how to collaborate. Sadly, don't expect upward mobility or opportunities. Teams and organizations not open to new ideas or taking risks.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    When staff complain about management, do something about it. Build some accountability structures so Directors don't get away with bullying other teams and staff. Encourage and support junior staff and their ideas.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3.  

    Great place to work, particularly compared to other INGOs

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I worked at National Democratic Institute full-time

    Pros

    The benefits were great; good luck duplicating anywhere else. Good people with a good sense of humor. Hard working, smart and talented staff.

    Cons

    Egos of a handful of regional directors and some deputies unnecessarily inflated, which is hard to understand as NDI's President is an extremely approachable and unassuming leader.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Open minds to new ways of managing, structuring teams and rewarding/recognizing staff.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Important Work but Demoralized

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC

    I worked at National Democratic Institute full-time

    Pros

    -Smart, talented junior staff who have good ideas and in tune with the types of changes needed to make meaningful institutional changes.
    -Important mission and willingness to be innovative in program design.
    -Access to a diverse set of government, think tank and NGO communities doing important related work.

    Cons

    -Demoralizing and dishonest mid-level management with no real management or human resources skills. Possibly because they have been around for a long time and lack motivation and ingenuity.
    -Below-average salary compensation and benefits, even compared to other Washington DC non-profits.
    -Non-transparent, disconnected executive office. "Fun Fridays" don't cut it.
    -Cumbersome, bureaucratic, and arcane financial and reporting practices.
    -Little demonstrated interest in work/life balance or employee health.
    -On some teams, little opportunity to travel and interact with field staff that DC teams support.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Upper management can have a genuine interest in junior staff by improving vertical communication, showing an interest in staff development that junior actually staff wants, and finding ways to incentivize work even if higher salaries are not possible.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Wonderful Atmosphere with Wonderful People!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Receptionist in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Receptionist in Washington, DC

    I worked at National Democratic Institute as a contractor (less than an year)

    Pros

    This organization's purpose is to facilitate the creation of democracies in countries where there aren't any in place. The employees here are young, smart and driven and an absolute pleasure to work with!

    Cons

    I cannot think of one con.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep up the good work!

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Good entry level job

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Good people, travel, good cause.

    Cons

    Some management issues - lack of oversight and feedback. Very difficult to move from mid-level to senior level.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Poor respect for junior staff - inflated senior management.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Project Assistant in Washington, DC

    I worked at National Democratic Institute as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    A lot of opportunity as a PA to move up if a position opens, the junior staff at NDI are really dedicated

    Cons

    Senior management is terrible - there needs to be an audit of management. A lot of wasted money on unnecessary senior management travel. Junior staff are often viewed as disposable.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest more in your junior staff - your senior staff will not be around forever and your junior staff are the future of the organization.

    I know from friends that the institute is BLEEDING junior staff - incentivize them to stay.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9.  

    Good internship experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Project Assistant in Washington, DC

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Nice people who are smart and, generally, don't take themselves too seriously. It's a good place for an internship because they genuinely seem to want you to get the best experience possible. I was never really treated as an "intern", more of a junior staffer but still a member of the team.

    Cons

    Nothing in particular. It's a big place with lots of moving parts and I've heard it's tough to move up if you are hired full time.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep valuing your interns!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 3 people found this helpful  

    Great people, great work, sub-par managment

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC

    I worked at National Democratic Institute full-time

    Pros

    Really interesting work, and the chance to "make a difference." Unique opportunity to be involved in high-level international politics very early in your career. Smart, driven, and friendly junior staff. Wonderful local staff in the field offices. Travel opportunities.

    Cons

    Very top-down management controlled by old boys club of directors, with very little new blood. Organization does not value junior staff -- they expect high turnover, offer poor compensation at junior levels, and allow only limited opportunities for growth. HR policies are political and outdated; performance reviews are only tangentially related to compensation/promotions, while advancement is much more driven by luck, ad hoc decision-making, and director whims. Office culture is political, often becoming quite toxic. Low staff morale.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make an effort to improve staff morale and democratize(!) decision making through meritocracy, collaboration, and transparency.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 6 people found this helpful  

    Low Morale but Good CV Booster

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC

    I worked at National Democratic Institute full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    It's a reputable organization in the IR/Development sphere

    You get to meet a lot of interesting activists/political operatives/elected officials

    There are a lot of young professionals and most of the younger workers are interesting, smart, fun and pleasant people to be around

    If you take advantage of the panels that the regional teams host you can learn a lot.

    If your goal is to work for the State Department, USAID, get a Master's in IR, or work for a think tank it's not a bad organization to have on your CV

    Nearly everyone in the organization has some sort of Fulbright, Peace Corps, Master's or time in country and if you grab a beer with them you'll hear some great stories

    J'son, the office manager, is a godsend and will help you navigate the mailroom, office procedures, admin maze

    The Board Members are impressive and if a director or senior manager likes you it can really open up some doors

    If you're going to stay here 6-12 months, there are worse jobs in the world

    Cons

    Oh you're interested in African politics, spent 2 years in country and speak the language fluently? That's great go make a copy of this W-2 (which accounting will then lose).- tasks are very admin heavy

    There is a very strong sense of "be seen but not heard" during team meetings, input from junior staff is strongly discouraged.

    Most director's don't seem to care about their staff and the ones that do tend to quit within 6-12 months of being hired (I've seen this 3 times within a year) once they see NDI's quirks.

    Tasks and authorities are not clearly articulated and the lowest member of a team gets blamed when things inevitable go wrong. I've heard stories of junior staff being told specifically to take responsibility for a director's mistake.

    Pay is horribly low and pay structures make no sense (they'll tell you they can only offer 32,00-35,000 a year entry level "because of equity" but can't seem to tell you what that means).

    Any new idea proposed needs to be vetted by 5-10 people before/if it's ever implemented which results in either a Frankenstein or no action, even ones that will clearly save time and money

    There's no central contact database, (are we in 1980?) which means junior staff get penalized for not having correct information based on their predecessors work

    The mid-management staff tends to be territorial, some will throw you under the bus for the sake of their career and it's rare to find one that will mentor you- don't rock the boat and keep your head down

    Travel opportunities are unequal, some employees will go 5-10 times a year while others will never leave DC- beware the bait and switch

    Nepotism is alive and well

    If you're ambitious and motivated this isn't the place for you

    The ones that tend to stay aren't the sharpest tools in the shed (but they're usual decent schmoozers!)

    I've heard of people being told they can't take overtime but that they better figure out a way to complete a project before Monday (pretty sure that's illegal!)

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Unfortunately they'll always have their appropriations and guaranteed money so they aren't forced to change a thing.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

National Democratic Institute Photos

NDI Kenya office (Photo thanks to Flickr user andinyc All rights reserved.)
NDI Burundi office (Photo thanks to Flickr user andinyc All rights reserved.)
NDI Office (Photo thanks to Flickr user Thomas K Kelly All rights reserved.)

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