Harvard University Reviews | Glassdoor

Harvard University Reviews

Updated April 16, 2017
60 reviews

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Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust
Drew Gilpin Faust
18 Ratings

60 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great work life balance and benefits (in 75 reviews)

  • Great benefits and the overall work environment is good (to great) depending on which school/department/tub you work for (in 102 reviews)

Cons
  • Work life balance could be difficult (in 40 reviews)

  • relatively low pay compared to industry (in 26 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Go for the Benefits"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Jersey City, NJ
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Jersey City, NJ

    I worked at Harvard University (More than a year)

    Pros

    -The benefits are good
    -The work ends by 5

    Cons

    -Depending on where you are there is no room or mobility
    -The staff is slow to adopt technology


  2. "Staff Assistant"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Harvard University full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Great supervisors and direct reports -- very appreciative of my skills and labor
    Student interaction was favorable and students, for the most part, also appreciative
    Work was interesting and I enjoyed it

    Cons

    Despite my rare interactions with students and other staff - I wasn't allowed to work remotely
    Working from "home" reserved for upper management
    Senior Management seemed to favor HU Grads for promotion or advancement
    Pay rates painstakingly slow

    Advice to Management

    There are talented, hardworking and experienced staff right under your nose, with masters degrees. Promote them rather than overwhelming going for HU grads for management positions.


  3. Helpful (6)

    "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Assistant Director in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Assistant Director in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    I spent 15 years at Harvard. The benefits are great, and the access to resources is fantastic. I still miss the library system—there’s nothing else like it out there. I met many wonderful people and greatly appreciated the ability to attend the Extension School tuition-free—I got two graduate degrees there and as a result, was able to advance my career—once I got out of Harvard. Their Center for Workplace Development is an overlooked resource that has fabulous programs. I still use many skills gained from the Foundations of Leadership program. The Ombudsman’s office is another essential resource (see below!). Overall, working there was an amazing experience and I loved much of the culture outside of the department I worked in for so long. There are a lot of great places all around Harvard—just not the one I was in.

    Cons

    I spent most of my years in the Alumni Affairs and Development Office. It was a good start, but after numerous restructurings over the years, management cared less and less about work-life balance. By the end of my time there, I was routinely putting in 60 to 70 hours per week, and a brutal deadline schedule kept me from taking time off. There was a narrow window of about a month where everyone in the office had to compete for vacation time—and even then—vacation time felt more like working remotely, because you always had to check in. The culture became especially miserable after the budget cuts following the recession, and never really improved. We were asked to take on more and more—raises were tiny, and we were told a “C is the new A” when it came to performance evaluations. After demonstrating that I was doing way more than what was on my job description, management spent two years making vague promises to re-evaluate my job grade. It never happened. Ultimately, AA&D’s culture was oppressive in its micromanaging, and the bullying was pervasive. Quality of life became more to me important than the positive aspects of Harvard. By the time I left, it was a nasty, toxic atmosphere, with a high turn-over rate among staff.

    Advice to Management

    Show some humanity and respect for loyal people who work so hard. Awkward office parties are far less desirable than opportunities for true growth.


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  5. "IT Project Manager"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - " Senior Project Manager" in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - " Senior Project Manager" in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Harvard University full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Terrific health plans, commuting benenfits and time off. Being in Cambridge has a lot of arts and food options.

    Cons

    If you are a seasoned IT Project Manager, RUN, do not walk, anywhere else but Harvard. You will be underpaid and treated like an administrative assistant, doing the bidding of the Project stakeholders. Your Leadership skills and abilities will be frowned upon, unwelcome and considered disrespectful. You will be expected to be subservient, follow orders and stay late to get deliverables done, with no appreciation and no consideration that maybe all those expected and required late hours should be reviewed for their need, not just expected as normal.

    Advice to Management

    Look at what real project managers do, outside of Harvard and start calling your "project managers" what they are - Project Administrators/Coordinators.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Decent People, Dead End"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Media Technician in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Media Technician in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Harvard University part-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Overall a good team, everyone supports one another, especially when things get hectic or there's an urgent situation. Lots of opportunity to meet interesting people and have unique experiences around the Harvard campus. The work is engaging and requires a professional demeanor without being stressful or overly challenging. Flexible and understanding with your other commitments and schedule.

    Cons

    Very low pay, almost zero chance for advancement. Full time staff generally have little regard for part time technicians, communication tends to be poor, incomplete, or flawed. Expectations are unclear, initial orientation for new employees is disorganized and riddled with technical disinformation, there are no staff development or training programs offered. Hours are strictly capped to prevent you from qualifying for benefits. Technical competency required for this job is fairly minimal for a department of this type. There is little to no feedback and there are no performance reviews, there is no structure for earning pay increases based on employment length, performance, experience, etc. In general, the level of responsibility and accountability inherent in the job does not match compensation.

    Advice to Management

    Focus more on minimizing turnover and keeping and developing existing employees rather than constantly hiring. Better match roles with staff of appropriate qualifications.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "You gain intellectually but suffer financially, big time."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at Harvard University full-time

    Pros

    Smartest people around. Very nice people too.

    Cons

    Pay is horrible. Some people are workaholics and don't have a life.

    Advice to Management

    Being as prestigious as you are as a research institute, pay your employees fairly please.


  8. Helpful (2)

    "Not worth the easy work schedule"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Harvard University full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Subject matter can be interesting; easy hours; everyone gets a week off between Christmas and New Years; your relatives back home in Indiana will be impressed that you're working at Harvard.

    Cons

    Uncompetitive salaries and benefits; no equity; no career opportunities for most fields; highly de-centralized structure: If your boss is crazy or abusive there is generally nothing you can do about it (Harvard rewards tenure with management positions, thus managers are often untrained, incompetent, and unfit to manage anyone.) Generally dysfunctional and infantile atmosphere (not uncommon at higher education institutions).

    During the recession Harvard chose to lay off long-term employees rather than dip into their $20B. At no time did President Faust ever officially address her employees. It was an unconscionable choice.

    Advice to Management

    Managers, including faculty, must be trained. Offer long-term employees better benefits.


  9. Helpful (5)

    "Working at HarvardX"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Course Developer in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Course Developer in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at Harvard University (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Gained experience in the field of MOOCs, worked on all aspects of 3 different online courses: created assessments, communicated and met with faculty, built courses on the edX platform, worked as a Teaching Fellow once courses went live, managed online discussion forums, sent weekly emails to 10,000+ students, worked closely with video editing teams, interns and other course leads, attended weekly research lectures, etc.

    Cons

    Work culture is poor. Office is very hierarchical, not a lot of interaction between management and temps or interns despite their integral involvement in course development. And mind you these temps and interns have degrees from Harvard University (BAs and MAs). Four of 5 lead course developer positions went to white males, which is disappointing given the global education focus of MOOCs. The Indian female hired for the 5th position quit after 3 months. She was replaced by another white male.

    Advice to Management

    Harvard University places importance on diversity issues, yet I didn't see diversity being important at HarvardX in terms of hiring practices. Also, the office was very divided in terms of rank with management not speaking to certain people despite their involvement in projects for months. Preference was given to external candidates over hiring from within.


  10. "Postdoc"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Postdoctoral Fellow in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Postdoctoral Fellow in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Harvard brand, available benefits include Harvard courses

    Cons

    High pressure work environment, postdocs have limited benefits (considered training position so no retirement benefit etc). No support for postdocs with kids. No formalized career development plan. Salary is at NIH minimum (unless one has fellowships).


  11. Helpful (1)

    "Instrument Specialist"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Instrument Specialist in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Instrument Specialist in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Harvard University full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Benefits, ability to take courses at the extension school, being around exciting research

    Cons

    Limited support for growth, fosters workplace bullying, long hours with no compensation, inadequate management


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