Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Washington DC Reviews

Updated March 13, 2017
154 reviews

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Washington, DC Area

4.0
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Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Director Dr. Ralph Semmel
Dr. Ralph Semmel
75 Ratings

154 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Work life balance is impressive compared to other companies (in 22 reviews)

  • Great benefits - flexible hours - good staff resources (in 22 reviews)

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

  • There are layers and layers of management (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Techical Staff"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Technical Staff in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Technical Staff in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory part-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    APL has many interesting problems and one is surrounded by top quality scientists and engineers who are fundamentally interested in science and not just the deliverables.

    Cons

    multiple projects and tight deadlines sometimes mean that you cannot afford to spend the time on certain problems which are otherwise deserving.


  2. "Principal Professional Staff"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Principal Professional Staff in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Principal Professional Staff in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great mission, great vision for the future, great people. This is one of the best places in the nation to work.

    Cons

    Some middle managers don't want the boat rocked. Try to embrace change. It is going to happen in any case.

    Advice to Management

    Follow the Director's lead! This place is being transformed in a great way before our eyes.


  3. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to work, smart people"

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

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

    Pros

    Business-like and intelligent technical staff, some interesting projects

    Cons

    Not as much freedom on projects as some want, management varies

    Advice to Management

    Trust your researchers, don't over-manage projects


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  5. Helpful (1)

    "Excellent R&D Organization"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Principal Staff in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Principal Staff in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I've worked here for 20 years. Over time the work has improved, declined and improved again as you'd expect for a UARC. There are opportunities for staff with any technical discipline to work on projects of their choosing, conduct leading edge research and gain proficiency in their field.

    The current Director seems to understand how to approach the 21st century for both work and staff engagement. He has created multiple incentive and innovative programs to engage staff - they are very well received.

    Overall, the work is solid, the pay is good (not great) and opportunities are plentiful.

    Cons

    The organization has tripled in size while i've worked here. I'm sure there is some management rulebook that defines how many managers are required for certain activities and numbers of staff and that mentality has been embraced here. We have multiple managers for nearly everything. There are managers managing groups of managers who manage...paperwork. The somewhat expected but annoying piece of management is many of them are not technically competent and provide limited utility to the projects they oversee.

    Advice to Management

    Focus on people and production and less on paperwork and forms.

    Get out more and talk to people.


  6. Helpful (4)

    "Great Place to Work and Retire"

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

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

    Pros

    Work life balance is impressive compared to other companies. I regularly had to work 10+ hours, weekends, holidays, and called on vacation to solve issues in other companies. Where I work now at JHUAPL it is policy to not do this unless your in IT. If your in IT you have some extra hours but only if there are issues or your on-call. They do however reward those who work extra hours to get things accomplished or work on potential solutions. I look at working here in a way like Google with the freedom and ability to come up with innovative solutions.

    Benefits are past amazing and retirement contribution is far greater than anywhere else. Our family uses all the benefits we can and it is far cheaper than other companies when considering what you get in return. We couldn't believe what we could get with the little we pay. If you contribute 4% towards retirement they double and add a % based on your salary. This can be a lot if you spend most of your career here.

    The freedom we have is incredible. They highly reward positive work ethics, hardworking people, and those that want to contribute. I have the freedom to provide recommendations and disagree with management which is not something most companies tolerate. You obviously need to do it professionally and respectfully.

    There is ample opportunity for advancement. You also have the ability to stay where you are. Management where I am has a desire to ensure people are happy and work towards ensuring this is the case. Management even steers away from anything that results in weekend work as much as they can and even tells others in management their teams can't do something if it results in weekend or holiday work. This could be different elsewhere in the organization. It just depends on where you are and what you do.

    If you have a good work ethic, professional in what you say to others and management, and offer suggestions or recommendations for improvement you will do well here. While no company or organization is perfect this is the best place to work and retire comfortably. I plan on staying until I retire and I am young.

    Cons

    There can be lots of down time but it is what you make of it. You have to have the vision to make your own work that is in line with the direction of the organization. Not a complete con but can be if you don't have the capability or desire of making your own work and prefer companies to tell you what to do then it is a con.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to give latitude to people and allow them to try out ideas. Continue to reward those that contribute, work hard, and come up with solutions to solve critical challenges.


  7. "Good place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Senior Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Engaging work, staff is generally motivated and intelligent. Different departments are very different in type and consistency of work. Some have long-standing contracts that are very reliable and others have to be constantly looking for new contracts, which can keep things interesting but also stressful.

    Cons

    Overhead has been cut dramatically over the last 10 years or so.Overhead seems to be considered evil, rather than a cost of maintaining technical leadership. Capital equipment investment in some areas is fine, but others is way too low.


  8. Helpful (3)

    "Excellent Place to work and getting better all the time"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Principal Professional Staff in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Principal Professional Staff in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    APL has an incredible mission, is driven by excellence and hires many of the top technical staff in the nation. The Director has set a vision that is compelling and sets a high standard for performance. Staff are dedicated and willing to help. You can make your own career path based on your initiative and abilities.

    Cons

    Internal processes are slow to change. Everyone has to agree before something can change and that takes a lot of time.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to push for change and higher contributions by all.


  9. "Great Place"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Mechanical Design Engineer in Laurel, MD
    Former Employee - Mechanical Design Engineer in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Exciting work, excellent staff, challenging assignments.

    Cons

    Not much negative to list.

    Advice to Management

    none


  10. "Wonderful Place"

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

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

    Pros

    You can chose your projects, and really feel valued.

    Cons

    It's easy to overwhelm yourself with too many projects... just slow down.


  11. "ASPIRE Intern"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Intern in Bowie, MD
    Former Employee - Intern in Bowie, MD
    Recommends

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

    Pros

    good work environment, friendly staff, quiet

    Cons

    not much that interns get to see but you're an intern


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