Brookings Institution Reviews | Glassdoor

Brookings Institution Reviews

Updated July 14, 2017
92 reviews

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3.6
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Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott
Strobe Talbott
48 Ratings

92 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Excellent benefits and work/life balance (in 8 reviews)

  • A relaxing work environment that is conducive to productivity despite the obvious reputation and pressure on deliverables (in 11 reviews)

Cons
  • Junior staff is basically at the whim of where managers want to put them (in 18 reviews)

  • Virtually no opportunity for upward mobility (in 9 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "This is by far the best employer I've had"

    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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Brookings Institution full-time

    Pros

    Great support from management, open door policy, respectful and diverse community. Excellent benefits and work/life balance. Supportive and family-like atmosphere.

    Cons

    None. I have not experienced anything negative at Brookings. I've heard some but since I did not experience it personally, I won't comment.

    Advice to Management

    None


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Great Benefits and Experience, Limited Mobility and Below Average Compensation"

    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
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Brookings Institution full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The Brookings community is extremely diverse. My colleagues are motivated and passionate about the work that they do. The benefits package is second to none. Great organization to include on your resume.

    Cons

    Salaries are below average. A significant majority of junior staff leave after 2 years (both research and nonreseach positions). There are very few opportunities for growth. Favoritism is also blatant in some programs. Many members of the executive leadership team have or will be resigning in the coming months.

  3. Helpful (7)

    "Toxic Work Environment."

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

    I worked at Brookings Institution full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The course Brookings Executive Education offer are top notch -- insightful faculty, constructive activities, great way to meet hard-working professionals from across government. I was proud to contribute to and learn from the great educational experiences BEE offers.

    Cons

    In a small organization where everyone works hard, trust and openness are incredibly important. Neither of these exist at BEE. Senior staff is incredibly mistrustful of junior staff, ignoring constructive suggestions and concerns raised alike. My supervisor once told me directly that he/she does not welcome feedback -- so sadly contrary to everything we teach in BEE courses! As with many educational institutions, some times of the year are more busy than others. When, during crunch times, members of junior staff voice concerns about backlogs and lack of capacity, there is rarely any effort made to provide additional support; instead, those same staff members are often blamed/punished for work they were unable to complete -- despite voluntarily working hours of overtime (9pm is not an unfamiliar hour to junior staff). Complaints raised by multiple members of staff about one particularly belligerent colleague remain unaddressed. I would never recommend BEE as a workplace to anyone, particularly not someone early in their career.

    Advice to Management

    Junior staff are not the enemy. We work hard, like you do. We want the organization to succeed, like you do. We don't quit after a year or two because we're job-hopping millennials; we quit because we would like to work somewhere where we are made to feel a valued member of a team, rather than a workhorse or a suspect. Also, there are so many opportunities to use technology to streamline processes at BEE, but to do that a proper audit of our systems is needed -- one conducted by a tech expert who can offer recommendations and assist in implementation. While junior staff are generally tech savvy, none of us had a background in data management, computer science, or similar, and expecting a bunch of humanities majors to come up with tech solutions for the organization is a bit unreasonable. I would have loved to have this discussion in an exit interview, but BEE does not seem to conduct those.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Brookings in Brief"

    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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    generous vacation and 401k; important mission

    Cons

    hierarchical and low glass ceiling


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Associate"

    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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Smart people. Good ladder. Good upward mobility. Lots of people are around that are wiling to help with anything you need because that's the right thing to do

    Cons

    Sometimes you can be given a task without much direction. Also the budget is pretty small so projects can feel squeezed and rushed and all the other things that come with small budgets

    Advice to Management

    My advice to management would be: increase the operating budget to help move projects quicker. Too often projects run into a wall because there isn't enough money.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Communications Intern"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Communications Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Communications Intern in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Hands on learning experience writing blog posts, media pitches, attending strategic planning meetings, and putting together media kits. Additionally you attend several high profile events with important guest speakers.

    Cons

    Can tend to be a bit slow at times, lots of entry level copy writing/busy work.

    Advice to Management

    More mentorship for interns needed.


  7. Helpful (4)

    "Great place to start, not a place to grow"

    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
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Brookings Institution full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Brookings has a great reputation for a reason. There are always interesting speakers and you are constantly surrounded by incredibly smart individuals. Extensive benefits: good health insurance, more vacation than you know what to do with, and huge retirement fund contributions once you hit the 2 year mark.

    Cons

    For someone just out of school, Brookings is great, for anyone else, unless you're coming in at the fellow level, steer clear. This is not a place to build a career. For starters, you're not paid enough. Given the reputation, there are plenty of people willing to work there for less than they'd get paid at a rival institution and Brookings clearly exploits that. There's also little room for growth and you get tracked very early on (research vs. admin) and there's little ability to straddle lines and move between them. Junior staff is basically at the whim of where managers want to put them. Everyone has an advanced degree, so that doesn't make you special. Finally, the way HR is structured means employees (of any level) can't advocate for themselves and negotiate their own salaries/benefits.. While I liked the people I worked with, I'm much happier now that I'm in a place that compensates me a the level I'm actually worth, provides a clear path for growth, and lets me advocate for myself and my goals. Brookings isn't that place. Come here as an intern/RA and leave after 2 years max.

    Advice to Management

    Look for sustainable ways to grow the institution and develop career paths. Allow employees to advocate for themselves.

  8. Helpful (6)

    "Great reputation...reality is something else entirely"

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

    I have been working at Brookings Institution full-time

    Pros

    Great benefits (5 weeks vacation, 12 percent toward retirement). Get to work with smart people. Great to have Brookings on your resume, but stay two or three years and leave.

    Cons

    Very poor management from the very top. Scholars may be brilliant at policy, but they are terrible managers. The place lacks central leadership and vision. If there is a vision, it is not communicated to staff. No path to advancement for junior staff or admin staff. Unless you have a PhD, you are not respected. The institution is always a desperate chase for money since the institution grew too quickly with no strategic plan to support that growth. The institution created three overseas centers - raised the money to create them but had no idea how to manage them and make them actually function well.

    Advice to Management

    Bring in new blood at the top. The current executive team is so laissez faire that the place has bee rudderless for years and is coasting on past glory.


  9. Helpful (3)

    "Assistant Director"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Assistant Director in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Assistant Director in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Brookings Institution (More than a year)

    Pros

    Benefits, stress-free, social, great location in Dupont, friendly staff

    Cons

    No transparency with promotions or compensation, senior management having zero management experience

    Advice to Management

    Hire a management consultant to streamline support staff. Academics/scholars are very bright, but they don't always make the best managers.


  10. Helpful (2)

    "sadly coasting"

    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
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Brookings Institution full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    very good benefits, great colleagues, great location. If you are on a policy career track, a year or so at Brookings is invaluable

    Cons

    management is very opaque. business goals are not fully shared or understood or consistent across the organization. struggling to adapt to 21st century; coasting along on reputation


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