RAND Reviews

Updated August 17, 2015
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  1. Helpful (8)

    very different military & civilian sides

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


  2. Always something interesting to work on

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

    I have been working at RAND full-time (More than a 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.


  3. Helpful (6)

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

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


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  5. A very enjoyable place to work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant in Arlington, VA
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant in Arlington, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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


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

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Associate in Arlington, VA
    Current Employee - Project Associate in Arlington, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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 Management

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


  7. Helpful (1)

    Nice people, no one was terribly tied to their job

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Everyone was nice, awesome office and location

    Cons

    No one held a lot of a passion for the work


  8. Helpful (9)

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

    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


  9. Helpful (4)

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

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Editor in Santa Monica, CA
    Former Employee - Research Editor in Santa Monica, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

    Perhaps RAND has become too top heavy?


  10. Helpful (5)

    Very Grateful to Be Here

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Behavioral Social Scientist in Arlington, VA
    Current Employee - Associate Behavioral Social Scientist in Arlington, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at RAND full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I love the diversity of projects, the chance to work with some really smart people (and learn from them), the work flexibility (usually work 6:30 AM to 2:30 PM in the office, or at home if I really have a lot of writing to do). And I kind of love the pressure--it's a challenge to context-switch from project to project, meet deadlines, etc., but it's very rewarding. And while there is a wide-range of personality types at RAND, I really like my colleagues.

    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. But I can imagine someone who does good work still having bad luck (and maybe not out-going enough) to find work.

    Advice to Management

    I'm totally ok with the broad challenge of finding work, but even old hands here at RAND struggle with filling every corner of your time to, to the last day of the year. I think a little flexibility at the edges, e.g. a standard pool of personal development days, would be helpful.


  11. Helpful (1)

    Great colleagues, Interesting Research Opportunities, Great Employment Practices

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Assistant Policy Analyst in Santa Monica, CA
    Former Employee - Assistant Policy Analyst in Santa Monica, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The people here are all really top-notch. They really pushed me to be a better researcher and I learned a lot from everyone there. Not only, however, are they great researchers, but they are also very nice and happy to help. Other researchers always took time to meet with me, teach me new software, etc. Administrative support, security, and other people were also the best. Also, they have really great employment practices. There was an ergonomics person who helped set up your desk and they have a cafe with lots of healthy options.

    Cons

    Like any high-profile research organization, the job is demanding and the hours can be long at times. Also, I know that finding work at RAND is challenging for some people. I personally, however, didn't have a problem finding work and enjoyed the ability to choose whom I work with.

    Advice to Management

    More free trainings on software would be great.



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