Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Engineer Reviews | Glassdoor

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Engineer Reviews

Updated September 20, 2018
49 reviews

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4.8
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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Bill Goldstein
Bill Goldstein
18 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "Work life balance is the biggest advantage" (in 99 reviews)

  • "As a grad student: lots of resources, cutting edge research opportunities" (in 34 reviews)

Cons
  • "Being a government contractor does mean there is a lot of red tape" (in 37 reviews)

  • "High cost of living in Bay Area" (in 14 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Science to solve big problems"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Electrical Engineer
    Current Employee - Electrical Engineer
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    This is great place for scientists and engineers who want to have a big impact on some of the big problems facing our country and the world. The Bay Area is a great place to be, and working at LLNL isn't going to eat up your weekends, giving you time to enjoy living here.

    Cons

    -Expected bureaucracy in getting some things done
    -Washington DC policy, Congress, and political appointments affecting funding


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Excellent Work-life balance"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Good work life balance: better than most places, but could still be a little better
    - 15 vacation days a year
    - Low people Politics, no backstabbing.
    - People generally try to help each other
    - Both Senior and Junior Management are very approachable and open to input,
    - Management makes a lot of effort to hear, gather and value your feedback.
    - The Site Director (CEO) even has brown bags with rank and file employees to hear feedback!
    - Management is attentive to our needs and gives us everything we need to do our jobs
    - It's a Better location relative to other bay area companies. But, even here, housing is still 500$/sq foot! So any location outside of CA will be much better
    - Salaries are roughly equivalent to other companies in the area.
    - Excellent 401K
    - Everyone gets an office of their own, wow! And an office phone of your own.
    - Beautiful campus with a lake, benches, trees and wildlife, sometimes even right outside your office! Geese and rabbits too!
    - Free filtered water in some buildings, free faucet water in others
    - Some people can stay here for very long periods 10+ years or even 50+ years! This place will be loyal to you, if you stick with them for a very long time and earn it.
    - Medical insurance is not too bad.
    - Lots of interesting talks to go to, if you like that sort of thing
    - Yearly 5K run event for HOME.
    - Depending on the group your in, SE may face less beurocracy than a full software company (less code reviews and meaningless check-in processes). This leads to greater development efficiency.
    - about once per quarter there's an ice cream social or something like that.
    - Super easy parking on base
    - Bicycles and taxi service available to get around on base.
    - Great equipment: software engineers get 2 monitors and a laptop
    - Occassional free lunches once per month for new members via the NEIT group
    - Free yearly biometric reports: blood pressure, blood work, etc
    - Hackathons once per quarter, have free coffee, snacks and Pizza
    - Full time ergonomist will come by and make sure you have a good chair and computer setup
    - Excellent wifi and internet connection, nice and quiet work environment
    - Smart and knowledgable coworkers
    - Research oriented software has requirements that are more flexible
    - Low number of users for your software which helps decrease stress
    - Leads and managers often bring in donuts and bagels for everyone, paid for with their own cash.
    - Due to "need to know" policy, there is Below average overcommunication, not too many meetings.

    Cons

    - Bay Area has huge Housing problems that can't be fixed. You better think long and hard before you decide to move to the bay area or anywhere in CA for that matter!
    - Lots of substandard tools used: Outlook, Jabber, Bamboo, etc. Jabber has a terrible UI, has bugs, won't let you paste output into the chat, etc. Bamboo is particularly painful. These tools often fail and are a pain to use. You can't change away from any of these tools because it's all they will allow. However, for tools like IDEs and things that can run on your own computer, you may choose the very best tools. They don't like any hosted tools in the cloud: Gmail, Google docs, etc.
    - Security sometimes used as an excuse for Technical debt and substandard software development practices (this will vary from group to group, of course). Security concerns often negatively impact productivity.
    - Paranoia is rampant
    - Extreme security practices mean you'll need to type your password in at least 20 times per day(i'm not exaggerating) and it can NOT be automated.
    - need to change your passwords often and it's almost always a huge pain
    - You will spend a lot of time doing extra work due to security concerns and overcoming obstacles related to security
    - For research done at the lab there's 240% funding overhead! that doesn't include all the security obstacles any researchers must overcome.
    - Funding/Work can dry up and you might need to find other groups to join in order to keep your job. So, Long term stability doesn't seem to be option for everyone
    - Early work stability (first 5 years) aren't nearly as stable as I thought.
    - You may need to work on several projects at once because there's not enough funding for you to be on just 1 project.
    - Things are always changing: tech stacks and technologies
    - Enormous variety of technologies used: every team uses a completely different tech stack, which makes it much harder to ramp up, if you're going to another team
    - Getting a clearance can take 3+ years. You will spend dozens of hours completing this paper work.
    - Administrative training: LTRAIN, a couple dozen hours every year
    - Stack Ranking. This sucks because it stresses everyone out and puts a lot of pressure on people. Although, I believe it's not nearly as bad as most other places that do this because you don't get laid off for being at the bottom
    - Performance review is much more stressful than it needs to be.
    - Although the pace is relatively slow, the workload can still be high because you get placed on multiple projects at once.
    - The local cafeteria on base has very short hours: lunch is only open for about 60 minutes or less. You need to be really on time, if you want to eat. Sodeka the cafeteria provider has an exclusive license with LLNL which means they can't add more variety.
    - You will need to be very careful about your driving. Getting a speeding ticket can get you in trouble at work.
    - Gotta protect your badge. Loosing your badge can get you in big trouble.
    - No onsite pictures and no usage of any camera functionality on your phone on base, no pokemon go, no facial recognition login.
    - Disruptive building speakers: lots of frivolous chatter about testing. Sometimes this can happen 2-5 times within a few days, then there might not be any tests for many weeks. Almost seems like trolling.
    - Since all the services are hosted locally, they can be unreliable.
    - Old computer with a broken microphone
    - minor: like most places, the printers and projectors sometimes dont work.

    Advice to Management

    Check security policies to make sure they make sense.

  3. "Great place to work!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lead Electronics Engineer
    Current Employee - Lead Electronics Engineer
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Good benefits (especially retirement)
    Cool science

    Cons

    Funding levels vary substantially YoY

    Advice to Management

    Better succession planing

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Jan 17, 2018 – Employee Relations Program Leader

    Thank you for your review. While there are actions many organizations have taken in creating better succession plans, there always is room for improvement. The Laboratory takes developing and... More


  4. "Summer Internship"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    Former Employee - Software Engineer(Internship)
    Former Employee - Software Engineer(Internship)
    Recommends

    Pros

    Super great summer intern experience. The work environment was flexible and supportive.

    Cons

    None that I can think of.


  5. "Great place to work with freedom"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Computer Software Engineer, Applications in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Software Engineer, Applications in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The lab offers great benefits and has events to keep employees engaged.
    The atmosphere is very upbeat and many employees stay at the lab.
    You are not micro-managed and are given freedom. You just have to make sure to get your work done.

    Cons

    As we are a DOE (government) lab, it takes a long time for processes and change. For example, It takes a long time to get hired, get a clearance, transition out older technology, etc.

    Advice to Management

    Actually, all of the managers I have encountered have been extremely nice, patient, and understanding. No complaints there


  6. "Best toys to play with"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    For technical people, LLNL has the best toys in the world to play with.
    You can totally change the kind of work you do without changing employers.
    Potential to make a difference to the security of our country.
    Many exercise and social opportunities.
    Flexible work schedules.

    Cons

    Washington, DC oversight can be capricious.

    Advice to Management

    Don't be so risk averse.
    Replace the swimming pool.


  7. "Awesome place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I am a software engineer. Been here for about 2 yrs. Great place to work for. If you have a proactive attitude and want to try out new tools, this is the place to be. Good work-life balance. Safety is the top priority here.

    Cons

    Not a place for someone who likes little bit more structure!

    Advice to Management

    Strong leadership!

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Mechanical Engineer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Leading edge technologies, large scale projects, $1 billion budget, and great benefits and employee resources.

    Cons

    Real estate in Livermore is too expensive/risky. To own on a single income, commuting is almost a necessity.


  9. "Very good life/work balance in a family friendly town"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Interesting work, good retirement benefits, and a stable job

    Cons

    Expensive area to work in.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "LLNL continues as a great place to work."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Project Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Project Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory part-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    * Very interesting work of great variety. If you feel you're getting stale, you can take another assignment in a different technology without having to move/change employers.
    * Good work/life balance. LLNL offers fitness classes, farmers market, technical and non-technical speakers, occasional on-site luncheon entertainment, babysitting, etc.
    * Great continuing education support.
    * Good pay / very good benefits.
    * Generally promotes from within for lower and middle management.
    * Relatively stable and secure.
    * Friendly people.
    * Nice campus.

    Cons

    * No equity. Formerly, the generous pension compensated, but that's no longer available.
    * Not very dynamic. Definitely not a start-up. You give up a rapid upward potential for the stability and work/life balance.
    * Bureaucratic. It is government. But this bureaucracy has helped it maintain an impressive record of safety and security.

    Advice to Management

    I've spent nearly my entire career here and am now semi-retired. Ten years ago, LLNL went from public management (UC) to private (consortium) and dropped its super-generous pension to instead a 401K. (Employees current at the time were grandfathered to the pension if they wanted.) At the time, I thought that this move would increase turnover and ruin the culture. After ten years, I haven't seen it - it's still a very nice, friendly place to work with low turnover. I credit the senior management.