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American Institutes for Research Reviews

Updated July 3, 2017
48 reviews

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American Institutes for Research President, CEO and Director David Myers
David Myers
25 Ratings

48 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Some sections of the organization struggle with work-life balance (in 30 reviews)

  • SVPs are generally hard-charging and unwilling to compromise with their direct reports and the management-level staff actually leading the work (in 11 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (7)

    "Only work here if you are desperate"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Researcher in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Researcher in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Bagel Wednesday, cheap parking, baseball tickets

    Cons

    Everything else - only work here if don't mind being professionally abused.

    Advice to Management

    Sort out the terrible management


  2. Helpful (15)

    "Avoid Assessment and CSSC at all costs!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    -Except for their Georgetown location and some benefits, can't think of anything else.

    Cons

    This is an honest review of the Assesment division where I had the unfortunate experience of working there for a little over 2 years. One of the worst IT organizations I have ever worked for.

      I have never been the one to look back in life and I pondered whether I should write this review, but I strongly felt anyone who is considering or applying for a job at AIR deserves to read this, so here goes-

      -The upper management is completely disconnected and unaware of how the work actually gets done at the lowest levels, so puts some of the most unrealistic demands on the teams.
      -This allows the Technical Directors (TDs) to weild more power than they really should and play the dirtiest of games with their staff. There are especially 2 notorious and completely unprofessional TDs in Assessment, you'd never want to be stuck with them.
      -Management is selfish and does not care about its employees. You are simply a cog in a machine. They will undeservingly reap the benefits of your hard work and take home big pay checks and bonuses and won't think twice about kicking you to the curb to save their faces.
      -Very much a old boys club mentality, the entire system is setup to promote and grow only a few and everyone else is simply walking thru a revolving door. Most employees simply do last more than 2 yrs. The turnover rate is staggering yet the management simply doesnt care. The ones who stay longer are usually sucking up coz they are waiting for immigration benefits. The management knows this and takes complete advantage of their situations. The American workforce that sucks up and stays there for several years usually suffers from Stockholm Syndrome.
      -Honesty, commitment, hard work, technical skills have little meaning here. Expect 0% growth (professionally and financially) unless you kiss the behind of the upper management and lose your soul. You have no creative control. If you say "No" or even politely challenge an idea, you are let go without just cause.
      -The client management teams are some of the most unprofessional and incompetant I have ever seen. They have no clue what they are doing. They often load requests from the client at the 11th hour to technical side of the house. So you are working late nights and weekends to meet unrealistic demands while they go socialize over cocktails and have fun in bars.
      -This is a big one - absolutely no reward for hard work. Not even a "thank you" for working late or over the weekend to get this done. In fact, the only time I ever heard anything from my manager was when he was creatively thinking about how to blame me for the debacle.
      -This place all around stinks with dirty office politics, back stabbing and blame games. There isnt much of a process there yet you will be blamed for not following a process which they just made up so they blame you. I have seen excellent talent getting thrown under the bus and getting fired for some of the worst reasons. So there isn't much of job security there. But perhaps the biggest impact is how this environment might psychologically affect someone. There are so many people working there who are really on the edge.
      -HR will absolutely disregard your complaints and side with the management. When management is treating you unfairly or running you to the ground, they will look the other way. HR here has been created ONLY to protect the management, not the average employee. Period.
      -Expect to have NO personal life. Never mind the almost daily harassment from management late during weeknights, I once got called at 11pm when I was on a vacation with family and I was told I need to get online ASAP and finish a task. Unbelievable. This behavior from management is sadly not an exception but the norm in this company. There are some good low level managers but they have almost 0% power and mostly used as puppets themselves.
      -Last but not the least, there are several good and talented people here (at the individual contributor level) whom I all know are trying to leave the company, whom I wish the best.

      Long story short, really under NO circumstance should you ever accept an offer from AIR (especially the Assessment division). You will truly regret it, if you do.

    Advice to Management

    -fire all of them
    -Value your employees and treat them with respect

  3. Helpful (10)

    "Ineffectual and indifferent management, poor work-life balance, losing clients and quickly becoming uncompetitive"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Researcher in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Researcher in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Smart and knowledgeable co-workers, many of whom share information about other opportunities at competitors as it becomes more clear that long-term employment here is untenable. Bagel Wednesdays are nice.

    Cons

    Increasingly poor work-life balance, staff are expected to put in nonbillable hours on projects, management is unresponsive to requests for advice on advancement and development. There is a hidden CYA mentality among mid-level management that speaks volumes about upper management and their goals.

    Advice to Management

    View non-management staff as your most valuable asset and realize management staff exists to support staff. AIR is becoming little better than an incubator for our competitors, and the company's reputation is rapidly declining.


  4. Helpful (11)

    "Do Not Work Here"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    I have No Pros at ALL

    Cons

    I was very disappointed about how this company had just dismissed me with no explanation. I had a man I met on the first day of work simply call my phone in the middle of work, to tell me to open the door for him into the building for him to tell me that it was my last day working at the company. I was given zero explanation as to why I was done. I never want to work with a company like Randstad or AIR ever again.

    Advice to Management

    Grow-up and respect the people you hire.


  5. Helpful (11)

    "Horrible"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Analyst in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Analyst in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    As a contractor, I guess I don't have any PROS to say for this company.

    Cons

    Bunch of ppl play blame games. As a contractor, I never had such kind of experience with other companies, but this one is an exceptional case. Worked with some of the most annoying ppl in the world. Specially in assessment project, no life for contractors. Day and night just work work and work and no praise at all.
    Had to move out to get rid of all the negativity going around.


  6. Helpful (19)

    "Improving the lives of the disadvantaged?"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Researcher in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Researcher in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Free bagels on Wednesdays and good health benefits.

    Cons

    First, the organization presents itself as this nonprofit with a strong mission to improve the lives of the disadvantaged. Though, once you start working there you find that there is a shameful lack of diversity in upper management and promotions, particularly for an organization whose head office is located in the highly diverse DC area. How can a company that's supposed to be designed for the purpose of "improving the lives of the disadvantaged" truly understand and alleviate the plight of disadvantaged and historically marginalized groups of individuals when it cannot even retain the vast majority of its underrepresented minority employees?

    Second, the organization is supposed to operate as a nonprofit, but employees are unfairly placed under constant pressure (with failure being the equivalent of being fired) to fight for project work to fully bill their time and keep their jobs. AIR does not operate as a nonprofit; it operates solely as a contracting firm where money and billable hours are the bottom line. This often leads to unnecessary competition, backstabbing, and an often hostile working environment, particularly for employees from underrepresented backgrounds who generally don't have the support needed to have a fair chance to succeed.

    Finally, as several other posts have mentioned, the recent layoffs of over 30 employees at AIR provide a true disservice for an organization whose management chose to operate like a multi-billion dollar, cutthroat corporate organization instead of a nonprofit. For those left behind after the layoffs, it was very difficult for many to pick up the additional workload after so many individuals suddenly disappeared after being laid off without any sort of warning. Overall, the situation and the way so many long-term, hard working employees were treated was a true testament of how the mission of improving the lives of the others is nothing more than a facade.

    Advice to Management

    At this point, I think it would be wise to put the recent reorganization of the company on hold and start to re-examine what you're supposed to stand for and what exactly this organization should be doing. AIR is losing its reputation little by little following the recent layoffs and the many resignations submitted after the layoffs. Moreover, certain groups of individuals are catching wind of how there is a serious lack of diversity in promotions, recruitment, and retention within this organization, and are hesitant to even waste their time applying for jobs at AIR. In the end, decide whether you want to honestly operate as a contracting firm that only cares about money and billable hours, or if you want to ethically operate as a true nonprofit that actually cares about disadvantaged groups of individuals, both inside and outside of the company walls.


  7. Helpful (9)

    "Assessment sector not recommended"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Project Coordinator in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Project Coordinator in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research (More than a year)

    Pros

    The salary and benefits are decent.

    Cons

    Project Assistant and Project Coordinator jobs are equivalent to a glorified secretarial type position with little room for growth or movement.

    Advice to Management

    AIR seems to hire people based upon insufficient credentials. HR needs to work on placing their employees with jobs that make sense and are a good fit. People should not be hired simply because their manager "likes them". HR also needs to work with their employees and help them find a better job match within the company instead of disregarding them which leads to a high turn over rate.

  8. Helpful (6)

    "Notoriously horrible management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Mount Washing, OH
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Mount Washing, OH
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Was able to telecommute, but that was stopped because my area director had a personal contempt for telecommuters.

    Cons

    Extreme favoritism by management results in a clear caste system. You play their game (willing to work nights and weekends, socialize, schmooze with clients, travel frequently, and keep smiling) or you're pushed to the breaking point and you leave.

    Advice to Management

    Take a good look at the history of harassment complaints and lawsuits, and clean house accordingly. Management needs a complete top-down turnover.


  9. Helpful (14)

    "Work here only if you have no other option"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Researcher in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Senior Researcher in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Some flexibility working from home.

    Cons

    You are expected to work ALL the time. Including vacations. I once got a call at 11 pm. Everyone is so on edge about getting yelled at or criticized that it creates a very tense and "cover-your-ass" culture.

    Advice to Management

    I have never worked in a more dysfunctional environment. Think about creating an organization that will allow quality work to be produced and that will be able to retain talented employees.


  10. Helpful (9)

    "Terrible management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mathematics Test Developer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Mathematics Test Developer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    I do not have any good thing to say about this place, I work with some nice people but some are also horrible.

    Cons

    terrible place to work, bad management, constant restructuring, no clear path to advancement unless you kiss someone's behind.

    Advice to Management

    put in an annonymous system for feedback because you are terrible at your jobs.


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