Smithsonian Reviews

Updated March 23, 2015
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  1. 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 ManagementAdvice

    Keep on keepin on.

  2. 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

    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.

    Approves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful

    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)

    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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 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)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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).

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6. 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)

    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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 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)

    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.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 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.

  9. Air Space Museum in Smithsonian

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

    I worked at Smithsonian part-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    I can't imagine why anyone would dislike this place. This was a great place to work- nice environment. There are some good people working at the museum, but these are the down-to-earth hourly oompa loompas that are trying to make a living at a minimum wage.

    Cons

    Favored employees get the benefit to continue to work there. Very slow raising the hourly rate.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. Sounds fascinating, but ultimately, it's the government.

    Former Employee - Secretary in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Secretary in Washington, DC

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

    Pros

    You can wander around the museum on your lunch break.

    Cons

    You're working for the government, in all its Kafka-esque, everything-in-triplicate craziness.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Oh well, better here than Asia.

  11. Government Red Tape

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Incredible opportunities and resources, government benefits, and talented colleagues make the Smithsonian an appealing workplace. Plus you can't beat the name recognition on a resume.

    Cons

    There are forms upon forms to fill out, everything is heavy in procedure and red tape, and the institution moves slowly. Once someone is employed there it is impossible to get rid of them regardless of their competency.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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