Penn State University

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  www.psu.edu

Penn State University Reviews in Pennsylvania

Updated December 8, 2014
Updated December 8, 2014
429 Reviews
4.0
429 Reviews
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Penn State University President Rodney A. Erickson
Rodney A. Erickson
117 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Great work life balance and not overly demanding, but high results (in 14 reviews)

  • Great place to share ideas with others in different departments (in 16 reviews)


Cons
  • If you are unfamiliar with the area, it is in what many would consider the middle of nowhere (in 11 reviews)

  • It's a small town, you need to arrange your life well (in 15 reviews)

More Highlights

289 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Very positive experience so far working with World Campus: employees dedicated to students, good morale, good management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Admissions Counselor in University Park, PA
    Current Employee - Admissions Counselor in University Park, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Amazing students and great opportunities to work with them, assisting adult learners and military students, good advancement opportunities within in World Campus and Penn State, good management - generally very dedicated to employees' wellbeing, good morale, great job security

    Cons

    Little to no face-to-face contact with students, online education still skeptically viewed by public, veiled feeling of being cash cow for Penn State

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  2.  

    Great!! Love the work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Graduate Student Teaching Assistant in State College, PA
    Current Employee - Graduate Student Teaching Assistant in State College, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University part-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Good culture, work ethics, great people

    Cons

    In middle of nowhere, less funding opportunity for IE department

    Approves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Liberal Academia & Red Tape, but also Liberal Pay

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - (An Engineering/Technical Field) in State College, PA
    Current Employee - (An Engineering/Technical Field) in State College, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    Job Security. Once you get in the door, provided you're a reasonably good employee, you'll most likely be set for life. If you respect others, take your job seriously, and perform your duties well, you'll be just fine. You won't have to worry about lay offs, downsizing, or loss of contracts. Provided no major catastrophe occurs, academia is second only to government work for job security. And Penn State has done a great job securing its funding from the state and bringing in additional income and donations from students and other customers.

    Health benefits. 90/10 Highmark is a great plan to be on in this day and age of the Obamacare disaster. Salary employees get these benefits rather quickly when they walk in the door, and wage employees get them after a designated number of hours (eg: a year or two).

    Rich atmosphere of research and development that makes Centre County and all of the branch campus throughout Pennsylvania shine! When you work here, you're working under a very big, well-known name. That has a lot of pull that extends deep into the state and private sector. For example, Penn State employees get a 23% discount on line fees for Verizon wireless services, and if you buy a Dell computer for personal use, you also get a big discount. Just mentioning the name Penn State will often get you some respect/credibility from most of those living in the US.

    Retirement. Hop on the state SERS plan. It's a state-funded employee retirement system that has some very good fail-safes in place. Financial gurus might argue for or against it, but for the average person out there, it's a good retirement plan to adopt. Of course you have to keep working for a Pennsylvania state agency to keep contributing to it, but it should be there in force when you retire. For those entertaining the idea of working at Penn State, please keep in mind that there are other private-sector retirement plans to choose from (you're not locked into SERS).

    Liberal vacation and sick leave. Penn State gives employees a lot of leeway in helping them balance work and their personal lives.

    Research is king here. Yes, this is a university, but this is also a business of research, development, and services contracted out to other agencies and businesses. Don't fret, because this is a good thing. The university has expanded beyond academics. They've utilized the power of their resources and branding to build a business and groundwork that underpins the traditional higher-education role. The academic and business sides of Penn State are now joined at the hip. They support one another. From Penn State University and branch campuses to Penn State Hershey and countless contracting services, that diverse framework helps us overcome recessions and funding downgrades.

    Football and other athletic sports. This university dumps a lot into its Nittany Lions and athletic teams. If you're a fan of any sport, Penn State probably has you covered. The fan following stretches throughout Pennsylvania, and even into other states. So if you want to be at the heart of it, you'll be working for the right employer.

    Cons

    Penn State knows they're the primary employer in State College, let alone Centre County. Therefore they have a lot of leverage in dictating standards for pay and benefits. With that said, don't get me wrong, the benefits are good and the pay is very fair. But still, this bargaining chap of theirs has dampened larger corporations from dropping roots in Centre County and competing with Penn State for educated employees. And Penn State knows this. It's not necessarily their fault, but they take full advantage of it.

    No ladder climbing here. I've learned that the best way to build your career and advanced at Penn State is to quite your current job and start another. Seriously. Advancement is laden with so much red tape that you'll be paddling at the same position for years until you even get the most narrow window to advance. It doesn't matter how well you preform or what level of ambition and dedication you have, once you start working here, you're stuck in that position until someone else takes pity on you and recommends some sort of promotion.

    Red tape. There's a ton of it. You can't sneeze on a form without jumping through hoops to get it approved and sent through the proper channels. Some entities and departments have it easier than others. For example, my entity only has to deal with Penn State for HR and Networking/Phone, so we have it easy compared to others.

    The culture: liberal BS that started in the 90s but continues and is even worse today. I'm talking about the hyper-sensitivity to office-place harassment, diversity & diversity training, hyper-environmentalism, "Penn State Recycles", and now the child safety documentation and exam we must process thanks to the reaction to Sandusky's perversion and torment of children. These liberal policies has completely changed departments of Penn State. One example is Purchasing. It's not just "Purchasing" anymore, it's "Supplier Diversity and Environmentally Responsible Purchasing". Yeah, that liberal BS is rampant in academia, but it's especially repulsive at Penn State. If you love hugging trees, proudly drive a hybrid or electric vehicle, and talk about your carbon footprint, then these policies may be a pro instead of a con. Either way, Penn State hemorrhages this stuff, so be warned. I've had to play along and keep a smile on my face through all of this. It's a little stifling, but it keeps you from being on the receiving end of these liberal policies.

    Parking for employees can be a nightmare for some. You can only park in certain lots, and the parking fees come out of your salary. Worse, because this is a liberal campus, they really frown upon auto-based traffic while encouraging bicycle and pedestrian traffic. That's why driving and parking on campus is a royal PITA. If you do work here or plan to work here, then I hope you can work off-campus, where this won't be as great a concern. And remember, parking for those of significant clout (the higher-up positions) is fine. It's the rest of us who have to put up with poor parking, especially if you're unlucky enough to be quite far from a parking garage.

    Computing. Nazi-like control over their networking/computing. If you're part of an entity that's separated from the campus, you may have more wiggle room, but if you're right on campus expect to have little computing flexibility. Granted, some corporations are even worse, but for a university, they're very strict. If you need any special privileges or functionality in your computing tasks, expect to wade through the red tape... that is if you're lucky enough to get approval for those exceptions.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Drop the entire "diversity" and "sustainability" PR show. Stop following the mass media and ensuing crowd. Instead adopt an atmosphere of color-blind, politically-neutral, honor-bound policies to move Penn State into a new era of success and credibility.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
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  5.  

    Good for Academic Research

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Associate in State College, PA
    Current Employee - Research Associate in State College, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University part-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Expansive Facilities with all the equipment you could need on campus. The campus is and surrounding area is fairly nice.

    Cons

    Lots of students on campus during the semester, may be trouble for you if you dislike that sort of thing.

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

    ITS @ Penn State

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Service Desk Supervisor in State College, PA
    Current Employee - Service Desk Supervisor in State College, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University part-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    The ITS department at Penn State is a great place to work. Management is very willing to work with your strengths and build on your weaknesses. I have learned many new skills working as a Service Desk Consultant and Supervisor that I will value for the rest of my career. The working environment is very casual, but professional as well.

    Cons

    I would like to see more advancement opportunity within the organization for student employees. I think that we can be utilized a bit more to help ITS as a whole and also to build our own resume a bit.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep good relationships with your employees. The more you communicate ideas and motives to them, the more the organization will improve as a whole.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Great Environment for research

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in University Park, PA
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in University Park, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    People are friendly, staff are helpful

    Cons

    University seems more interested in Football than research

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The University requires to put more efforts towards pushing research

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Full of opportunities to do happy research

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in State College, PA
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in State College, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    In IST, your research direction can be very versatile. Totally depending on the type of your advisor, you'll feel either very pushed or very free to do your research here. Personally, I find myself really enjoying this work atmosphere - flexible hours, get timely and good-quality feedback on whatever I produce, have lots of excellent collaborators.

    Cons

    It's a small village here; you have to find your ways to get involved in activities. Pay is also very little, although the consumption level is also low (e.g. most apartment rentals cost less than $500/mo)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Great College Experence

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Student in State College, PA
    Current Employee - Student in State College, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Alumni Network
    Social Life
    Education
    Quality of Classes

    Cons

    Cost of Living
    Cost of Tuituion

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus less on the school's buildings and more on the quality of professors

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    Good place to learn.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in University Park, PA
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in University Park, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University part-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Nice college town to learn, safe environment. Most professors and staffs are helpful and willing to help.

    Cons

    An isolated place (geographically), > 3 hours drive from any major cities. Being far away from big cities and real-world communities, it is a little disconnected from the outside world. Cold winter.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Good learning experience. Open floor plan between labs led to more collaborations and discussions. Quite a bit of a pressure to do well in science.

    Current Employee - Graduate Student in State College, PA
    Current Employee - Graduate Student in State College, PA

    I have been working at Penn State University full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Scientific discussions amongst peers, some mentors are great, good facilities if you end up in a lab with good funding, state college is a nice hip college town

    Cons

    Some mentors don't care about their students

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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