Smithsonian Reviews

Updated April 17, 2015
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Employee Reviews

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  1. 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)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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

  2. Exhibits technology

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

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Cool displays to work with

    Cons

    office for engineers is in parking lot

  3. Graduate Level Internship

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

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    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 Management

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

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  5. Editorial Intern Smithsonian Magazine

    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Caring staff, supervisors not overly hands on, easy commute, great work atmosphere, great work life balance. Smithsonian Mag fostered great creativity with people who respected and appreciated any work you produced as an intern. You had to work hard, but everything was mentally stimulating and any feedback was constructive as opposed to criticism. Really couldn't have asked for nicer, more caring people.

    Cons

    I'm just kind of bummed that it wasn't paid, honestly. Other than that, it was the best internship I've ever had.

    Advice to Management

    Keep on keepin on.

  6. Intern

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

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern

    Approves of CEO
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great place, not too much work there

    Cons

    Government organization benefits, would hold different events now and then, but you always have to pay by yourself.

  7. Helpful (1)

    Disorganized, real talent gets lost

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

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Caliber, name brand of organization, people are always impressed by "Smithsonian," views on the mall are nice, steady supply of interesting programming for staff

    Cons

    No real talent in administration, people come to the Smithsonian really expecting something special because it's well, the Smithsonian, and are really, really disappointed. Administration staff severely overworked and likely underpaid. Bad talent never gets fired only demoted and moved around. Many people stay because of name and nothing else. I would not recommend the Smithsonian to anyone who is really looking for an engaging and inspiring career -- if you like brand names, go for it -- but you certainly don't get brand name quality here.

    Advice to Management

    On the outside, the museums are nice. They're well-maintained, etc. On the inside, it's a zoo...

  8. A little boring and a lot of old male academics...

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

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

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    I was great to be able to go on tours of the collections and be around tons of intellectual powerhouses. Some of these people literally wrote the book on the discipline.

    Cons

    Being cooped up in an office on the top floors of the Natural History museum could get very isolating. It was also difficult to be around so many tenured members that were very much stuck in their ways of doing things. The average age of the department was over 60 and male which made it a very masculine, conservative environment to work in. Also, all the internships are unpaid.

    Advice to Management

    It might have been nice for the interns to have more abilities to connect with other departments (or really for all the departments to work together more).

  9. Security is dangerously incompetent.

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    I suppose that it taking an act of god to get fired could be a pro. Maybe.

    Cons

    Years of poor hiring standards have resulted in Smithsonian's security division, "Office of Protection Services", being stuffed from the top down with people whose only work experience seems to be Smithsonian security. Most of the security managers are more concerned with keeping the staff happy than they are with actually ensuring the safety and security of the building. The organization is full of people being allowed to carry guns who have no business ever being allowed to touch one. There's no promotion potential unless you went to high school with someone in management.

    Advice to Management

    There's no saving OPS. Burn it down and start from scratch.

  10. My experience interning at the natural history museum was good, extremely relaxed, and I had a lot of independence

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

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Excellent managers, cutting-edge research, very relaxed workplace, people who tend to be good at what they do (at least in the research department) with a lot of creative staff. A lot of museum perks - roaming around, free imax tickets.

    Cons

    Pay is pretty low, there isn't much guidance - at least where I was working, but that can be good too. The office we were in was pretty terrible, and the internal network (in terms of data storage and access) is pretty difficult to deal with and very disorganized.

  11. Contracting

    Former Contractor - Contractor in Washington, DC
    Former Contractor - Contractor in Washington, DC

    I worked at Smithsonian as a contractor (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The Smithsonian offered many opportunities for individuals to expand their horizons. Great program for interns, wonderful to be surrounded by such great minds.

    Cons

    Difficult to commute to the Mall during the summer, low pay, no oversight, must sign up as a business if you do any contract work for them.

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