National Democratic Institute
3.2 of 5 40 reviews
www.ndi.org Washington, DC 1000 to 5000 Employees

National Democratic Institute Reviews in Washington, DC

Updated May 26, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.0 23 reviews

                             

50% Approve of the CEO

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Kenneth Wollack

(14 ratings)

59% of employees recommend this company to a friend
23 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews
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    Wonderful Atmosphere with Wonderful People!

    Receptionist (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsThis 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!

    ConsI cannot think of one con.

    Advice to Senior ManagementKeep up the good work!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Poor respect for junior staff - inflated senior management.

    Project Assistant (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

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

    ConsSenior 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 Senior ManagementInvest 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Good entry level job

    Program Assistant (Current Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsGood people, travel, good cause.

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

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Good internship experience

    Project Assistant (Current Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsNice 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.

    ConsNothing 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 Senior ManagementKeep valuing your interns!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Great people, great work, sub-par managment

    Program Assistant (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsReally 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.

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

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

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    Low Morale but Good CV Booster

    Program Assistant (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsIt'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

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

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Extended Project Assistant position.

    Project Assistant (Current Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsWonderful organization with lots of opportunities to be promoted to a full time position.

    ConsProject Assistants may encounter ebbs and flows of tasks. They tend to be either engulfed in work or underworked.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    No emphasis on junior staff

    Senior Program Assistant (Current Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsNDI does interesting work that gives you access to a lot of fascinating international development opportunities.

    ConsThere is never turnover in the management and senior staff but they see and treat the junior staff as replceable.

    Advice to Senior ManagementRespect your employees more and pay them better.

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

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    Great place to learn

    Project Assistant (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsGreat culture. A lot of opportunities to learn. Great people to interact with. Management offers strong support.

    ConsSometimes tasks are dull or redundant. Too much translation of documents if you speak another language other than English. Location is not so great.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Good Experience; Poor Management

    Program Officer (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsThe work at NDI is really interesting and important. The organization is fast-paced and filled with passionate and smart people.

    ConsThe management while I was there was poor and the pay is rather low. There is no focus on staff development, the organization is run like a campaign, you're expected to leave.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThe lack of focus on good management practices; impact of NDI's programs; and staff development really hinders NDI's ability to implement effective programs.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at National Democratic Institute reviews and ratings in Washington, DC — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for National Democratic Institute CEO Kenneth Wollack. All 23 reviews posted anonymously by National Democratic Institute employees.