Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Reviews in Columbia, MD | Glassdoor

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Columbia Reviews

10 reviews

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Columbia, MD

4.9
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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Director Dr. Ralph Semmel
Dr. Ralph Semmel
5 Ratings

10 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Work life balance is impressive compared to other companies (in 24 reviews)

  • Great benefits - flexible hours - good staff resources (in 23 reviews)

Cons
  • Matrix organization can be difficult to create a vertical career path (in 8 reviews)

  • At least in AMDS the line management tries to focus on project management tasks more than they should and doesn't spend enough time focusing on staff (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Associate Professional Staff I in Columbia, MD
    Current Intern - Associate Professional Staff I in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as an intern

    Pros

    The work is interesting and rewarding and they make an effort to make sure you are engaged in your projects. Even as a new employee you are given important work and your input is genuinely valued. Good pay and work life balance, excellent benefits.

    Cons

    If you're not on main campus, you can feel forgotten sometimes. Seems somewhat tough to advance career from within company. Coworkers feel it is appropriate to leave only whoppers at the bottom of the holiday candy bag in the common area

    Advice to Management

    Replace whoppers with milky ways. I'm only writing the rest of this to reach the 20 word minimum


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Associate Professional Staff"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Professional Staff I in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Associate Professional Staff I in Columbia, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great retirement funds, there are many organizations to become a member of that spread across a large variety of interests

    Cons

    There is not a lot of personal interaction, collaboration between teams can be low at times, not a great environment for younger workers.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Best job I ever had!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Recruiter in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Senior Recruiter in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    work / life balance, great benefits, collaborative workspace

    Cons

    none that I have experienced

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work!


  4. Helpful (3)

    "Diverse place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Professional Staff in Columbia, MD
    Former Employee - Senior Professional Staff in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Timely research, collaborative research community, many opportunities to move around or up. Working at JHUAPL can be quite rewarding as projects and technologies often appear in national news stories. The Lab typically dos a good job seeking out expertise within the organization, and staff members are encouraged to stretch their wings

    Cons

    Funding is cyclical, and the whims of upper management are even worse. Bing primarily funded by the Department of Defense, the funding cycle can seem like extreme feast or famine. Making matters worse, is that the leadership seems to get bogged down in micromanagement at the most inopportune moments.

    Advice to Management

    Transparency !


  5. "Intern - Mediocre experience, but good name recognition"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Technical Intern in Columbia, MD
    Former Intern - Technical Intern in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    -Name recognition - most employers are impressed with the JHUAPL name
    -There is interesting work being done
    -The campus is massive

    Cons

    -Possible to get stuck on a project that is somewhat boring
    -Hard to connect with other people. Between security clearances/restrictions and the isolated nature of the offices, it is easy to get lost in the mix.
    -The campus is massive

    Advice to Management

    -Have regular daily/weekly meetings with interns working in the same division.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "A good starter job"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate Professional Staff I in Columbia, MD
    Former Employee - Associate Professional Staff I in Columbia, MD
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Pay 100% for advance degrees. Great job to start a career with.

    Cons

    Advancement opportunities are low. Alot of family favoritism (environment based on who you know).


  7. "APL summer internship"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Intern in Columbia, MD
    Former Intern - Intern in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    I got a lot of experience testing electronics. I learned about the research industry. The work actually seemed important. I was able to apply skills I learned in school and got to learn a lot of new skills and use a lot of equipment that I would normally never even see.

    Cons

    I was either extremely busy or had no work to do for periods of a couple days. There are lots of meetings and conversations that you need security clearance to hear about. I know other interns who worked on projects without knowing what they were actually working on.

    Advice to Management

    Make sure there is enough work for interns to do.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Overall very good experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Staff II in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Senior Staff II in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Good environment for scientists and engineers. Good benefits. Good educational facilities to pursue further degrees.

    Cons

    Large increase in layers of management: has to some degree adversely affected technical excellence the laboratory has been known for.

    Advice to Management

    Reduce management, and focus on technical excellence and innovation.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Many great people, poor management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Outstanding coworkers for technical staff. Gifted, dedicated, highly technical staff. The range of projects is amazing, from the bottom of the sea to the edge of the solar system. While you have to be very careful to avoid some organizational units with self-involved managers, there's something here for almost any technical interest area.

    Cons

    Extremely self-involved upper management that spend most of their efforts scoring points off each other. Poor attribution of credit for personal achievement (under the culture of recognizing the "team" -- meaning the managers). Finally, the support organizations (and we aren't allowed to call them that) are a cruel joke. They have a sense of entitlement that is unbelievable, and are in general not competent. They are a drain on the whole organization.

    Advice to Management

    Walk the talk. Show some leadership, rather than the self-congratulatory high-fiving. The few good leaders in upper management are very threatening to the rest, and are to a large extent suppressed.


  10. Helpful (4)

    "Dad is proud"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Crypto Engineer in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Crypto Engineer in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    JHUAPL has perhaps the vastest collection of geeky projects available to work on collected into one campus. Walking from building to building through the habitrail tubes is a source of private amusement. Quality computer equipment provided upon arrival with a 3-year upgrade replacement policy and special requirements for non-standard hardware get handled promptly. No pay scales so no way to top out. Lots of odd little talks about techy/sciency subjects going on all the time that employees can go to (some are open to the public). Lots of educational opportunities that management encourages employees to take advantage of when not actively charging a to a project. And, finally, my dad, who toured the facility back in the late fifties or early sixties and was very impressed, is proud that I got a job there :-)

    Cons

    Bureaucracy and more bureaucracy. I guess this can be expected in a management heavy group of 4800 in a research organization. This means more non-project related meetings then in normal companies.

    The JHUAPL internal network is in the dark ages (the 1990s) - I have had to type my password over 30 times a day because of the lack of single sign-on and the multiple "central" repositories of information that cannot be searched easily or at all.

    The amount of nanny type programs running on the Windows boxes noticeably hurt performance or deny the ability to perform ones job (hint: get in the "bit9 developer" group so you can install the software you need). Or, you can get a MacBook pro with a Cinema Display which is much less encumbered (I went with a Dell because of the ability to have multiple displays).

    Advice to Management

    Get the internal network fixed.


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