Smithsonian

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Smithsonian Reviews

Updated December 8, 2014
Updated December 8, 2014
99 Reviews
3.8
99 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough
Wayne Clough
42 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • It is quite an interesting place to work with behind the scenes understanding of what happens in the largest museum complex in the world (in 3 reviews)

  • Great benefits after two years of employment and committed people (in 4 reviews)


Cons
  • Not much of a chance for full time position (in 5 reviews)

  • Huge bureaucracy, it takes a long time to process any new plan (in 3 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Great company, great people, WONDERFUL experience

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

    I worked at Smithsonian

    Pros

    -the people are VERY friendly and will go above and beyond to help you out in any way possible
    -you will learn something new and fascinating every day that you work here
    -very rewarding and rich experience

    Cons

    -they don't pay very well
    -I was only there for the summer
    -The few weeks of the festival are VERY hectic and time demanding

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  2.  

    Very positive internship experience at CFCH

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

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    The Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage is a great place to intern, works on a wide variety of projects (in addition to the annual Folklife Festival). Interns are given challenging, intellectually engaging work. Area of focus depends on your supervisor.

    Cons

    After a wonderful internship experience at the CFCH, I was disappointed that there aren't many opportunities for interns to transition into employment. It's a fairly small Center, most staff are experts in their field and there are few entry level positions.

    Recommends
  3.  

    Excellent Federal position

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

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (more than an year)

    Pros

    Incredible project work, decent resources available, good employee socialization and recognition experiences. Plenty of opportunities to collaborate across departments and teams. The mission of the entire organization is strong and embedded in almost everything being done. Lots of chances to explore partner organizations in the area due to strong and long standing relationships that are very reciprocal.

    Cons

    Slow moving entity, it takes a long time to get to completion and many of the steps seem related to ingrained process versus project need. I sensed that some (not all) people were clock in/clock out types with little passion for the work being done but that's the curse of government work. To become proficient in the systems and work, one may need to work here for a few years, this applies to leadership as well - in other words, new leaders or supervisors may spend a lot of time acclimating to the new roles at the cost of providing leadership in the moment.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Processes could be streamlined.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Great experience!

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I worked at Smithsonian part-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very collegial work environment with extremely smart people. Work-life balance is fantastic. The agency values learning and diversity. Benefits are also good.

    Cons

    Takes a long time for things to change, though I think this is true of most government agencies. Pay is not as good as private companies, but still much better than most government agencies.

  6.  

    Exciting place to work.

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Job opportunities, interesting projects, benefits, and mostly great people. They often have great growth opportunities. You can join a project and grow outside your job description. The benefits, even the non-federal workers benefits, are superb. The Secretary has shown incredible leadership.

    Cons

    You can get a bad supervisor. There aren't many options for you if that happens. You have to search for another job, either inside or outside the Smithsonian. It can be a federal organization, with promotions based on federal scales.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in your staff, and ensure the leadership you hire shows engagement with the staff they have.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Great Team; So-So position

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

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Manager was pleasant, helpful. Department, located in Natural history museum, consisted of intelligent, friendly scientists. Great coworkers; close to Metro station.

    Cons

    Not much room for advancement if working in administrative field.
    During summer months its hard to find a quick place to eat lunch due to the summer crowds.

    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    15 years middle manager

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Amazing opportunities to work on global projects and collaborate with internationally celebrated artists and scholars.
    Good benefits and some great colleagues.

    Cons

    senior management disconnect from reality. Serious organizational flaws. Senior level bureaucrats get promoted to positions they cannot perform. Lousy pay

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Graduate Level Internship

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

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Generally nice people to work with. Curators can often come with egos. Good collection, but not the best.

    Cons

    Often have to deal with bureaucracy. Change moves slow. Technological aptitude is a not very high as many employees have been there for a long time and don't learn new tech. Moral can be low due to low wages, poor advancement.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you primarily focus on expanding/growing the art collection, the employees will be left behind and leave for different opportunities.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  10.  

    Fantastic but certain museums need better leadership

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian as an intern (more than an year)

    Pros

    Excellent resources, and some of the most knowledgeable and sharp scholars that exist.

    Cons

    A little too much red-tape and overkill with policies and procedures; I know it is intended to accurately spend donor and constituent money, but it ends up wasting enough full time employee time that it isn't worth it. Expedite processes!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Leadership, time management, and conflict resolution training should be a priority for those in charge of people. ("people" includes fellows and interns too!) Lack thereof reduces morale (Not in my position, but in the full-timers that I know)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11.  

    Exhibits technology

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Cool displays to work with

    Cons

    office for engineers is in parking lot

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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