American Institutes for Research Reviews | Glassdoor

American Institutes for Research Reviews

Updated July 21, 2017
54 reviews

Filter

Filter


2.0
StarStarStarStarStar
Rating TrendsRating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
American Institutes for Research President, CEO and Director David Myers
David Myers
17 Ratings

54 Employee Reviews

Sort: PopularRatingDate

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. "Good company that has changed for the worse"

    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
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at American Institutes for Research full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    The company works in many areas and has lots of good people. Most people are hard working and are team players. There are a lot of opportunities if you look for them.

    Cons

    The company has grown a lot in recent years, though not in a good way. The company is now very top heavy (at least in its professional services group, not its assessment group) with many layers of management. The company seems desperate for new business and is going after work for which it is not well qualified, which drives staff to write losing proposals. Many staff are burned out and fear they could get laid off - about 30 people were let go at one time last year and now good people are beginning to be let go without notice.

    Advice to Management

    Cut back on all the management positions. Don't go after work when it doesn't make sense. Focus on having a good company that can do the work well, even if it is smaller.


  2. Helpful (9)

    "Assessment Editorial Assistant"

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

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

    Pros

    Benefits are good, there are a lot of social events, and some nice perks (bagel Wednesdays, seated massages from time to time).

    Cons

    It has been hinted to me that Editorial Assistants have no chance at becoming editors here. I have been told by people on my team to think of this as a first job out of school to gain a few years of experience, and then to move on to a different company. How encouraging.

    On several occasions, I've asked my manager about things I can do for professional development, and he has had absolutely zero answers. I then asked HR about it, and they told me to talk to my manager, so I went through this round about for a few months before just giving up. I guess AIR, or at least my team, doesn't really care about helping their members grow or promoting from within.

    My manager has no drive or leadership skills, cancels meetings two minutes before they're supposed to start, doesn't know important details about what we do (e.g. he often forgets how to log on to a software that we use on an almost daily basis) and doesn't keep the team informed about anything until the last minute (e.g. staff changes).

    There is definite stress over the time sheets. We go through ups and downs in terms of how busy we are, and in the down time you can often hear people say things like "I have no idea what to put for my time sheet today." "I don't want to charge too much to admin, because it'll look suspicious." Everyone's afraid they're going to get fired if their time sheet doesn't look busy enough.

    Speaking of time sheets, I can not tell you the number of times I've had to go back and revise a time sheet that is 6+ months old, because a code that I was given for a project had expired and nobody knew.

    AIR also did a terrible job at letting a group of employees, myself included, know that they were being switched from salary to hourly. One day, we all just got a memo that said effective that day, we were all hourly and to contact HR if we had any questions. My office mate's manager forgot to pass that memo along to him, and he didn't find out until his paycheck came and it was lower than usual, because it was a low-hour pay period.

    All in all, AIR isn't terrible as long as you can put up with mediocre managers and a company that doesn't care about you. The bagels help. It's a good way to get a paycheck while looking for a better job.

    Advice to Management

    My advice would be to put actual good leaders into management positions, not just someone that's been there for a long time. You'll notice that about half of my cons are in direct relation to my manager, and I know I'm not the only person that feels this way.

  3. Helpful (6)

    "Good Pay Not Worth Deploying Broken Solutions"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at American Institutes for Research full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    - Pay is competitive
    - Very good benefits
    - Good social opportunities

    Cons

    - Major issues with inter-departmental communication - solutions are forced upon IT by other departments without consultation
    - Issues with intra-departmental communications lead to solutions being deployed without other team's expertise
    - IT decisions are dictated by other departments
    - Constantly changing priorities lead to unfinished projects or poorly implemented solutions that are rushed to completion
    - No option for working Remotely (at least in IT)
    - Extremely high turnover in IT
    - Little room for advancement


  4. Helpful (7)

    "Good company that is now poorly managed"

    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

    There is a lot of interesting work at AIR on many topics. You can learn a lot, and company does help you go to school.

    People you work with are great and they want to do a good job.

    Cons

    Company structure keeps changing with no benefit to getting work done. There seem to more managers and support jobs every month.

    Senior managers are very remote. Middle managers care more about pushing staff to get new business than making sure work is done well. People now fear they won't keep their jobs unless they work crazy hours. There was a big layoff last year. Morale has really fallen.

    Advice to Management

    Talk with people and figure out what support they need. Meet with staff. Improve communication!


  5. Helpful (7)

    "Smart people, lousy management"

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

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

    Pros

    You will work with some very smart people. The work is varied, and there are policies and procedures in place that are invaluable.

    The new office space in chicago is lovely, and the facilities are well-maintained. At other offices, YMMV.

    You can also work from home, which is nice.

    Bagel Wednesday, as others have mentioned, is nice too.

    Cons

    The mission of AIR is all about "business development", less about "public interest". No one cares if the work doesn't benefit schools or districts. It's all about bringing in money.

    Many senior staff will write proposals that, for example, have completely unmeetable deadlines or are wicked understaffed. But since the proposal writers are often different than the project team, who cares?

    There was very little useful onboarding. I was kind of thrown into some complicated, high-profile projects and difficult clients, with no support from senior staff. My staff manager was pretty much MIA for my first six months, which really did not help.

    There is a major, major problem with the culture here. It's all about CYA, not about doing good work. I've spent months of my time covering my butt in one way or another. This is explicitly encouraged by senior staff, and people are genuinely anxious about making sure their butts are, indeed, covered.

    The work-life balance is sort of iffy. It's not that bad if you can say no and/or have a project director who believes in it. But I have experienced some truly inappropriate encroachments into my personal time.

    The PTO is extremely limited compared to a university. When you start, you get 3 weeks PTO, which includes sick time. It increases in subsequent years, but I miss being able to take time off for the flu AND (gasp) take a vacation.

    Advice to Management

    Make sure staff are trained and supported, especially in the first year.


  6. Helpful (15)

    "Ok first job out of college but DO NOT WORK IN ASSESSMENT"

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

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

    Pros

    -Decent random perks: free bagels on Wednesdays, occasional free ice cream in the summer, company wide parties during holidays and other events with food and drinks (alcohol too)
    -Decent learning events and some interesting research presentations
    -Immediate coworkers were nice, Psychometricians were nice to work with too
    -Casual dress code is nice
    -Potential to travel with in the US

    Cons

    -No formal training, you learn as you go
    -Takes a year to fully understand the job, but after that employees are not valued/compensated well enough for the knowledge they have
    -These are high stakes tests and A LOT of responsibility is given to relatively new/young employees, with little supervision
    -Not expected to stay in this position longer than 2 years, so there isn't investment in employees
    -Not compensated appropriately for the amount of work and responsibility given
    -Salary is not competitive
    -Blatant favoritism by some directors
    -Depending on the project, director involvement can vary greatly (from micro managing to little to no contact)
    -Asked to take on more and more responsibility without proper compensation - managed 3 people but was never given appropriate title or salary raise
    -Did not feel valued as an employee, no formal praise for employees other than an annual review
    -There was a recent restructure to make it “appear” as if there is a route to move up, seems superficial
    -All of the above does not just apply to the esearch assistant but to the data analyst and psychometrician positions as well
    -Overall the Assessment division needs to be fixed, its broken

    Advice to Management

    You need to overhaul the entire structure of Assessment
    Invest in all levels of the company, from the directors down
    VALUE your lower level employees, for the amount of knowledge and training you need employees should feel values and want to stay - it’ll save you time and money
    Pay people appropriately. Its irritating to be asked to work so hard, given so much responsibility then get paid significantly less


  7. Helpful (13)

    "Burning Through Young Talent"

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

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

    Pros

    -A TON of responsibility for folks right out of school
    -Fun location
    -Health benefits are actually pretty good

    Cons

    -The business model is quite clearly "burn through all the 20-somethings with 60+ hour weeks because there will always be new grads to replace 'em"
    -Payscale's pretty poor
    -Career ceilings for those who don't have Masters/PhDs (which is also why a lot of the 20-somethings leave)

    Advice to Management

    Drop the hard promotion walls: you'd do a much better job at employee retention if people thought there was hope of career advancement.

  8. Helpful (21)

    "Honest and Fair Assessment of Information Technology Jobs"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - IT Support Specialist in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - IT Support Specialist 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

    I have worked at AIR in an I.T. position for about two years and left on my own. This is not a bitter review but an honest review with no hard feelings, but would like to just create a warning for anyone considering to accept a contractor position or full time position at AIR.

    There are two groups in I.T. at AIR. The internal support and the IT product support. Internal support consists of many talented employees with multiple certificates and master's degree. The issue in the group is horrible management all around and low compensation. The part I cannot wrap my head around is a group such as facilities is currently being paid more.The IT product support has the similar issue of terrible management but their compensation is very fair with reasonable work hours but tends to consist of majority seasonal positions.

    I started off as a contractor with a promised 6 month to hire conversion timeline. It took over a year to finally be converted due to multiple excuses such as budget or paper work not being processed. Once, I straight up said I will be leaving is when the offer finally came in.The unsettling fact was in the meantime they kept hiring more contractors with higher hourly rates and then once time to be converted I had to straight up say I need this rate or I am leaving tomorrow and many contractors were making 30-40 percent more. The benefits were better at my contracting company and the pay dates and the delay at AIR were a month behind which was unusual and stressful.

    Cons

    The major issues that created a toxic work environment are these three factors below:

    IT management was horrible from the top. Lower managers who actually cared could not do anything and were treated as puppets. Management is selfish and do not stick up for their employees and do not reward hard workers. If you disagree with anything you are let go without just cause.

    The turnover was the largest of any company I ever worked. In my group alone it was roughly 20 people in a year. The part I never understand is how top management thought this was acceptable and did not make any changes.

    The last part is no raises and promotions were ever carried out. Once you are full time that is your salary and it will not go up. You will work about 50-60 hours minimum a week and not be rewarded for it.

    Advice to Management

    1) Clean house from the top of management chain

    2) Pay your employees market average

    3) Be ethical


  9. "That's it."

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

    I worked at American Institutes for Research as a contractor

    Pros

    Good Location, large group of people, above average benefits.

    Cons

    Every small things count and without notice. No scope of development


  10. Helpful (13)

    "Don't work here."

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    good benefits and some fantastic colleagues (most leave). If you are a recent grad and just want experience you could probably stand it for a year.

    Cons

    Hierarchical, demeaning, unfair, not transparent, and pay not comparable. Worst organization I've ever worked for.

    Advice to Management

    Get new management who know how to manage people.


Showing 54 of 284 reviews
Reset Filters