RAND Reviews

Updated October 15, 2014
Updated October 15, 2014
91 Reviews
3.9
91 Reviews
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RAND CEO Michael Rich
Michael Rich
43 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • RAND in Santa Monica is an unbeatable location and working in (in 10 reviews)

  • The organization encourages long term employees and flexible work arrangements (in 7 reviews)


Cons
  • You are very much left alone to sink or swim in the "internal labor market"--I'm lucky that (so far) I'm swimming, and I've had a lot of help (in 7 reviews)

  • RAND has an internal labor market where one must bid onto projects based on semi-formal networking (in 7 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    very different military & civilian sides

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

    I have been working at RAND full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    RAND has nice offices a block from the beach in beautiful Santa Monica.

    On the civilian side, you have very smart researchers working on important problems.

    On the military side, the research is relatively easy and job security is possible.

    You can try working on different types of problems and are not tied to any one "boss".

    Benefits are good and improve the higher in the organization you go (retirement benefits actually increase, in % terms, as your salary increases).

    There are even some "RAND internal" research funds available.

    There are smart and fun graduate students and new hires constantly arriving.

    Cons

    The internal job market means constantly interviewing internally for projects.

    On the civilian side, you have to cover 100% of your time with grant/contract money, which is a tall order. This might explain why turnover is a little high on this side of the house.

    The military side is run by several gangs (e.g., the Project Air Force FMEP gang) each of which has a few decision makers that determine the fate of new hires (what projects they work on, when they are allowed to brief a client or lead a project, etc.). These decision makers take care of each other first and play favorites with new hires. (Don't expect to have an important role on a project just because you know the topic better than anyone else at RAND.)

    The military side doesn't do very interesting or technical research (think resolving the same Army logistics problem several years in a row using a giant spreadsheet).

    Santa Monica and the surrounding area are very expensive and traffic is bad.

    The freedom to work from home and the nature of the researchers working here means there is little socializing or community spirit at work

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find a way to empower the new hires, particularly those on the military side of the house who are currently reliant on their "gang" leaders for job security, promotion opportunities, etc. Break up the gangs and cliques.

    Allow those on the civilian side to survive on less than 100% coverage. Find a way to better reward the superstars on the civilian side who can consistently bring in money in the current civilian research environment.

    Improve job security, or the perception of it. Right now a lot of the new hires view RAND as a temporary assignment when it need not be this way.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Always something interesting to work on

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

    I have been working at RAND full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    At RAND, researchers get to work on a breadth of projects. Unlike most of academia, at RAND your research has a good chance of being seen by government decisionmakers.

    Cons

    The internal labor market does not efficiently match capabilities to requirements, and the need to pursue future work while doing your regular work can be an unpleasant distraction. There isn't a clear career path for most project associates or research assistants, and consequently RAND-caliber talent sometimes is not retained.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    great learning experience, not a place for long-term career growth

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

    I worked at RAND full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    smart people, good office environment, challenging and intellectually interesting work. I learned a lot about research and government operations while I was there; it was a good stepping stone for future work. Good time-off policy and flexible work schedules; ergonomic office furniture.

    Cons

    top-heavy staffing and competition for tier-1 research projects creates a competitive and cliquey atmosphere. You have to hunt for work and be a politically savvy networker to get on the best projects. Only a few people get promoted from early to mid-career levels because of the large number of older staffers who get "first dibs" on projects. Salary is low for DC.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in workforce development if you want to retain your best and brightest younger research staff. I left because there was nowhere to go. Too many old-guard people remain in management positions; the organization is stagnant.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5.  

    A very enjoyable place to work

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

    I have been working at RAND full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    - good people
    - efficient systems
    - opportunities to learn

    Cons

    - There is limited upward mobility for administrative staff

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Smart, hard working people with their hearts in the right place.

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

    I have been working at RAND full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Good pay, benefits, and flexibility.

    Cons

    It's stressful to maintain a balance of good work and not be under- or over-loaded (coverage).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    We can do more to lead the way in both human and information management.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Nice people, no one was terribly tied to their job

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at RAND

    Pros

    Everyone was nice, awesome office and location

    Cons

    No one held a lot of a passion for the work

  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Good think-tank learning experience

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

    I worked at RAND as an intern

    Pros

    Highly intelligent people, great work environment if you like policy-oriented research, lots of autonomy (see caveat below), decent compensation for this type of summer position, collegial atmosphere among interns.

    Cons

    Limited interaction with mentor. You are often on your own with little guidance and little feedback. It is up to you to be proactive and come up with ideas. More generally, you have to take the initiative to meet people. People won't come to you.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 4 people found this helpful  

    Incompetent middle managers regularly decide amongst themselves -- Everyone else cleans up their mess

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA

    I have been working at RAND full-time

    Pros

    Many of the nation's most influential policy advisers and researchers have roamed the famed halls of RAND. Generally people are friendly and accessible. A great place to make connections-- If you are a member of the research staff.

    Cons

    If you aren't a member of the research staff, or an executive, you'll fit into this box. Your job is to keep the lights on, the floors clean, the facilities running. You are a cost center. You are not seen to add value. You may not be seen at all.

    While many concepts behind modern technologies are the brainchildren of RAND alumni, technology is no longer a science here; it is merely 'IT'.

    Middle managers of the top-heavy IT department deliberate amongst themselves, and regularly make irresponsible, uninformed, and outdated decisions by committee, leaving no one accountable for the perpetual mess. IT literally holds this organization back in the 20th century.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You have been loyal to your people. Also be loyal to your legacy and those that wish to renew IT.

    Clean house. Tenure is not a metric for expertise or management prowess. Managers manage. Leaders lead.

    Raise your standards. Professional pedigree and academic caliber are research staff priorities. Why not everywhere?

    History repeats. Instead of termination, several "managers," and former directors, were placed into "please-do-no-more-harm" positions, salary intact. Unfortunately, these messages were lost, and reasons for these moves were forgotten with time.

    Each year, millions of dollars are spent on managerial payroll, and nothing is left for much-needed working staff and infrastructure improvement. Perhaps members of the research community could study the correlation.

    One can only guess.

    Your client research is data driven. Look at internal turnover metrics. People leave managers, not companies.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Can be a great place to work depending on which department you work in.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Research Editor in Santa Monica, CA
    Former Employee - Research Editor in Santa Monica, CA

    I worked at RAND full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    The benefits are great. The environment is collegial. You will likely be surrounded by intelligent people. If you are in a great department, then this is an excellent place to work.

    Cons

    Some of the departments are burdened with mismanagement and/or bureaucracy. If you are stuck in one of those departments, you will likely feel unappreciated at best. You may start out in a great department in which the management changes, then you will find yourself in a job you used to love and care about that becomes unbearable.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Perhaps RAND has become too top heavy?

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Lots of variety, no room for growth

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

    I have been working at RAND full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    There is a huge variety of work available. On a given day, you may work with economists, political scientists, sociologists, and defense analysts. The office is quite nice, and there are lots of resources to do good research. For policy the pay is OK, but much of the work can be similar to work done by (and compensated by) the private sector. The work is extremely flexible: staff at all levels are given flexibility to work from home and work flexible hours.

    Cons

    There are limited opportunities for formal professional development or growth. Most junior staff are too busy over-loading with project work to take time to learn new skills. One of the big cons of the 'internal labor market' is that project leaders will only bring staff onto projects who already are experienced in the methodologies being used. This means it's hard to 'learn by doing' because you are generally only invited to do things that you've done before.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It is unclear what the various roles are meant to accomplish. When problems are brought up, nobody thinks it's their job to address them or fix them, which means that nothing (major or minor) can really change.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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