Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Reviews | Glassdoor

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Reviews

Updated November 14, 2018
455 reviews

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Pros
  • "Work life balance is the biggest advantage" (in 113 reviews)

  • "I see the lab working hard to be a great place to work, which it is" (in 35 reviews)

Cons
  • "Being a government contractor does mean there is a lot of red tape" (in 40 reviews)

  • "Of course, the cost of living in the Bay Area makes the 'good' salaries not reach as far" (in 16 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Making the World a Better Place"

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

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

    Pros

    Some of the brightest minds in the world work here, doing their part to make the world a better, safer place. They are also some of the nicest people I've ever met, and I get to be a part. Sometimes work can get boring or overwhelming - like anywhere else - but even in those moments, it is good knowing I am doing something worthwhile for others, not just company profits.

    Cons

    Sometimes things move slower than we like, and high security means we can't just do whatever we like, but the restrictions are reasonable and the Lab works hard to make them not onerous.


  2. 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

  3. "LLNL is Wonderful and Getting Better All the Time!"

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

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

    Pros

    AMAZING work-life programs! Very easy to have a wonderful career AND a life outside of work. Most managers are super flexible and understanding. Really cool on-site programs like Author talks, tons of fitness options, great special events, live music, a farmers market, nice walking paths, wildlife, etc.. Lots of really great science and opportunities to work on very interesting projects. People here are friendly and engaging.

    Cons

    LOTS of old processes and red tape . A bit "historic"- many things need to be updated (but it appears they are working on these -- lots of construction happening).

    Advice to Management

    Make it easier to share our ideas and suggestions.


  4. "Best quality of life"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • 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 8 years)

    Pros

    - Challenging, competitive work environment
    - Innovative work, hackathons, dev days
    - They have proven repeatedly that the care about the health and well being of their employees, work life balance is great
    - Great people!

    Cons

    - It takes a while to get used to the security environment, which is natural for most people.


  5. "A place where you can do awesome work *and* have a life outside of work"

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

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

    Pros

    I'm a bit over a decade into my career here at LLNL. During that decade+, I've been able to work on a wide variety of things from computer hardware, to software development, to team leadership. My colleagues are generally excellent: they work hard, their egos are non-existent, they're interested in building great stuff as a team, and they're as willing to learn as they are to teach.

    I get to work on projects that push the frontier of high performance computing. The fact that some of the world's most powerful supercomputers are just downstairs from my office is simply amazing. That I get to help, in my own small way, push that frontier forward is the opportunity of a lifetime.

    And, not only do we push the art of supercomputers forward, but there's tons of amazing, world-altering science and engineering occurring here at LLNL. The Lab's catchphrase is "science in the national interest." And it's true! When I think about all the world-class scientific discoveries which I indirectly support, I'm consistently blown away. I love my iPhone, but the work to help create the next-generation smartphone pales in comparison to all the scientific discoveries and breakthroughs occurring here at LLNL.

    As wonderful as the work atmosphere is, I'm also able to have a great non-work life. I'm able to be home each evening to have dinner with my wife and kids. My weekends are family time, not extra work time. Schedule flexibility is pervasive (for example, the AWS schedule that gives me every-other Friday off is quite nice). And I can afford to live in the same town where I work: there's no soul-crushing commute wherein it takes me 35 minutes to move 10 miles on a jammed freeway.

    Cons

    Cons — doesn't every organization have them? The Lab is a large organization. Sometimes the gears of progress grind more slowly than they should in surprising places. For example, it takes a looooong time to get a new computer for your office.

    Being that this is a quasi-governmental organization, there are various restrictions in place that you might not experience out in private industry. There are no stock options, no exceptional account-busting bonuses, no compensation for volunteer work, no kegs with fresh beer at the end of the hallway, or other types of perks that you might expect at a Google, Apple, or other typical Silicon Valley enterprises. But, the fact that I get to see my family at a reasonable time at the end of every day more than makes up for the lack.

    Another con is that Silicon Valley is close by; the companies there love to poach Lab employees. This can be difficult. It's hard to see a steady stream of my fellow colleagues get enticed by the large salaries, free lunches and dinners, in-building massages, and other Silicon Valley enticements.

    Advice to Management

    Figure out how to stem the flow of our colleagues heading out to work in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley isn't going anywhere; the problem won't solve itself. It's going to take active and creative measures — including how the Lab sells itself to potential new employees — in order to keep people working on all the important problems we have before us here at LLNL.


  6. "Great place to work"

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

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

    Pros

    Collaborative environment with many benefits and perks. Work life balance is a plus.

    Cons

    Government bureaucracy can slow things down and there is a lot of oversight on compliance.


  7. "Great work life balance but comes at a price"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 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

    Tons of stuff to do at the laboratory during your free time/lunchtime. Author talks, music events, activity groups, farmers markets. The team I work for allows for flexible schedules (9/80) and really values keeping your home and work life balanced. You are surrounded by some of the brightest minds in their field so it's exciting to think about the amazing work being completed. Great 401K package!

    Cons

    The work-life balance comes at a price. I love what I do, however raises are minimal compared to private companies but it's a trade off I've been willing to make. Some of the processes are a bit antiquated but the infrastructure and systems seem to be a focus for improvement currently.

    Advice to Management

    Keep building upon the values of the company and integrate them into our culture. Continue to improve processes.

  8. 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.


  9. "Computer scientist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    It has a Good work/life balance.

    Cons

    Bureaucracy can be annoying at times.


  10. "Great work environment, benefits"

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

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

    Pros

    The work going on at LLNL is really exciting
    People are very welcoming and friendly
    Seems to be plenty of room for advancement
    Plenty of conference opportunities

    Cons

    Sometimes takes a long time to get things approved, slow moving
    Often work long hours


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