Smithsonian Reviews

Updated June 29, 2015
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62 Employee Reviews

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  1. 15 years middle manager

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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. Graduate Level Internship

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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.


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

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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).


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  5. Security is dangerously incompetent.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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.


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

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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.


  7. 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.


  8. Air Space Museum in Smithsonian

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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)

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

    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.


  9. 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 Management

    Oh well, better here than Asia.


  10. Government Red Tape

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    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.


  11. Positive but monotonous

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

    I worked there as a summer intern at the Office of Advancement. Great perks (free webinars, conferences, talks, networking event, unlimited access to Smithsonian museums (including rides, movies, butterfly walk-throughs that you normally must pay for)), great colleagues and a sense of unity within each office

    Cons

    Because it is such a large institution, the sense of unity isn't spread throughout. Each office is separate and most hire internally. Many internships lack any financial support.



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