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Aspen Institute FAQ

Have questions about working at Aspen Institute? Read answers to frequently asked questions to help you make a choice before applying to a job or accepting a job offer.

Whether it's about compensation and benefits, culture and diversity, or you're curious to know more about the work environment, find out from employees what it's like to work at Aspen Institute.

All answers shown come directly from Aspen Institute Reviews and are not edited or altered.

27 English questions out of 27

August 3, 2021

What are perks and other benefits like at Aspen Institute?

Pros

Fascinating people, inclusive culture, meaningful work, exposure to lots of different issue areas and opportunities to learn about different topics (foreign policy, environmental policy, even things like art and literature), and the administration takes a very "hands off" approach to let programs do work as they see fit.

Cons

It's a large organization. Having come from a small organization where I knew everyone, it's a little daunting and hard to navigate, especially having started remotely during the pandemic. I've been here for a year, and I still don't truly know how to access all my benefits or the process for seeking promotion. You have to know how to advocate for yourself to move up the ladder here.

I've been here for a year, and I still don't truly know how to access all my benefits or the process for seeking promotion.

August 3, 2021

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January 29, 2021

What is health insurance like at Aspen Institute?

Pros

The higher up the food chain you are, the more lavish the salary—and we're talking $$$$. The health insurance is outstanding and you pay little for it. Swanky offices. Some lovely, brilliant colleagues who care deeply about the missions of their respective programs. Interesting lectures and meetings.

Cons

Aspen should rename itself the Aspen Institute for Fancy Hobnobbing—at least that would be honest. I knew something was very wrong when someone boasted during a new employee orientation about Aspen having a fundraising dinner at Monticello, glossing over the part where Jefferson owned slaves. This from an organization that claims to prioritize DEI. What I saw at Aspen was a lot of hypocrisy. Leaders who said they supported equity but denied raises to overworked younger staffers while they made over $250k a year. Black support staff berated by entitled white directors for doing monthly food purges from the communal fridges that were announced days in advance. Stories of tyrannical program executive directors abusing their staff were legion. A ridiculous structure that has programs paying 18% of their budgets to the larger institute for services like IT, communications, and financial integrity, departments that were derided for being slow and ineffective. Entire weeks passed when printers used by a lot of people did not work! Aspen leaders who pat each other on the back for a NYT story about Business Roundtable compelling companies to not solely focus on shareholder value, when the rest of the world made that argument five years before. Then the story WaPo broke about Aspen accepting SBA money when Michael Freaking Bloomberg is on its board! Only after a PR crisis unfolded did Aspen return the money. Shameful. And those interesting meetings? Lots of ideas thrown about, but whatever comes of them is anyone's guess. It's like Davos: a bunch of "thought leaders" and plutocrats gather to discuss big problems and fool themselves into thinking they're doing something meaningful. Aspen is all talk, no action. It's been trying to rebrand itself to counter this perception, but anyone with half a brain knows better. No one outside rarefied think tank circles knows what Aspen does and even within these circles, not many take the institute seriously. Aspen doesn't have the policy chops of Brookings or the media savvy and influence of AEI. It was distressing to see intelligent people I liked wrongly believe their work had any impact. Sometimes I felt like I was losing my mind. Read what Anand Giridharadas has written about Aspen; he is absolutely correct.

Advice to Management

Stop flattering yourselves. But really, my advice is for everyone else: Leave. Aspen's only value is its name, so use it to get a better job at a better org that has real, not imagined, impact. I did and it's glorious.

The health insurance is outstanding and you pay little for it.

January 29, 2021

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August 10, 2021

Does Aspen Institute offer unlimited time off?

Pros

Working for Aspen makes you feel like a part of a community - the pride and quality of work that this organization does becomes ingrained into your identity because its emphasis on values feels like working for a place that is encouraged to learn and grow, and that resonates as a young professional who is also discovering values based learning and growing.

Cons

Feeling so emotionally invested in a job can be exhausting! The organization has been talking about implementing a 4-day work week or giving unlimited vacation, and those moves will help counter the burnout if they ever move forward.

day work week or giving unlimited vacation, and those moves will help counter the burnout if they ever move forward.

August 10, 2021

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November 21, 2021

What is paid time off like at Aspen Institute?

Pros

Will let you take time off in case of emergency

Cons

Lots of work, meetings after 5

Will let you take time off in case of emergency

November 21, 2021

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February 25, 2022

How are career development opportunities at Aspen Institute?

Pros

Working with mission driven people, feeling belief in the work that we do.

Cons

The organization can be very political, and the ladder for upward mobility is almost nonexistent. It can be very defeating to know that opportunities for career growth are very rare and hard to come by.

It can be very defeating to know that opportunities for career growth are very rare and hard to come by.

February 25, 2022

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27 English questions out of 27

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