Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory "bay area" Reviews | Glassdoor

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Employee Reviews about "bay area"

Show All Reviews >

27 Employee Reviews

Sort: PopularRatingDate

  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. 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.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Computation Intern"

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

    I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as an intern

    Pros

    A nice place to conduct research. It's like a semi-academic environment where interns can work on topics they like and get access to amazing computing facilities.

    Cons

    Pay is low compared to other industries in the bay area.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Research Laboratory"

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

    World class research facility with experts in almost every field of the physical sciences and engineering. Leading scientists guest speakers and numerous seminars in various fields. Beautiful campus setting in Livermore Valley.

    Cons

    Bay area traffic is difficult to navigate. Cost of living in CA is relatively high entrance cost for housing.

    Advice to Management

    Incentives for young staff could include some kind of financial guidance and planning. Specifically discussing retirement, housing, taxes, etc...

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Apr 30, 2018 – Employee Relations Program Leader

    Thank you for your review. The Benefits Office has scheduled a series of workshops throughout the year to provide information intended to increase employee awareness of programs available to enhance... More


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Good Place To Work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Working on significant world-class challenges in a constantly changing world. Amazing small and large science projects and exploration.

    Cons

    Heavy bureaucratic environment driven by funding sources. Salaries are generally lower than the Bay Area salaries in certain job classes.


  7. "Great Career Move"

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

    Great compensation, benefits, 401k matching, and work/life balance. Most importantly, LLNL is a leader in many advance technologies and the work directly impacts the safety of our country.

    Cons

    Being a government contractor does mean there is a lot of red tape. Coming from another DOE contract laboratory, that is to be expected when you are dealing with the government.
    Commute traffic in California Bay Area can be really bad, but supervision at LLNL will work with you to find what work hours works best for you and your commute (within reason) and are understanding if you are late due to an accident on the interstate.
    Additionally, housing prices in the Bay Area are very high. Overall the pros far outweigh the cons.

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Jan 29, 2018 – Employee Relations Program Leader

    Thank you for your review. LLNL has a very competitive benefits package and values work/life balance.

  8. "Intern"

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

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

    Pros

    Networking opportunities, events/seminars, a phone number to call when you have a problem with anything computer related

    Cons

    Definitely feel taken advantage of as an intern doing multiple jobs and not being compensated or recognized for them. I feel used and underappreciated for the amount of work I contribute. It is not fair to be breaking my back and stressed over completing other people's jobs for positions that are waiting to be filled while not being compensated at that level or receiving any benefits whatsoever -
     just because I'm only an "intern". I always go above and beyond in every task I'm doing, not just to make a good impression, but because I actually care about what I am doing, however I guess it does not matter much to anyone at all.

    The Lab, especially the organization I work in loves an antiquated ways of doing things and you cannot really question why, it's just the way things are done. What is the point of compiling statistics when they aren't put to use to improve processes? You would think that the Lab would be more welcoming of innovative ideas, but as the lowest rung on the ladder who sees how things are done firsthand, you don't really have a voice. That is pretty frustrating when you see areas where things can be improved, but you can't do anything about it.

    Also, a definite lack of diversity compared to the rest of the Bay Area - I don't think they emphasize or even discuss diversity and inclusion much at all (except on the Newsline), which is really important for workplace morale to have an inclusive environment.

    Advice to Management

    Be more welcoming of ideas and suggestions - saying there's an open door is one thing, but actually asking for where things can be improved is really important. Also, if you don't value the new & young (people and ideas both), you're really loosing out and people will take their brains elsewhere to put to use if you don't recognize and compensate them for what they do. Also, the hiring process is too slow - you're not going to retain and recruit the best if this organization (not to be named) doesn't have their own recruiter, otherwise it will continue to have high turnover and take months to fill a position.

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Nov 3, 2017 – Employee Relations Program Leader

    We want to acknowledge your honest feedback and thank you for providing it. At LLNL, we value you and all of our interns as part of our workforce. We apologize the experience didn’t meet up to your... More


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Work/life balance and the biggest computers"

    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

    If you want to work on multi-disciplinary scientific problems of national importance, there's no place better. The world's most powerful computers are sited here and we are constantly challenged to apply that raw power in meaningful ways. There is always something new to research or simulate. You can work a 9-5 schedule, or put in lots of overtime and get rewarded proportionally. People tend to have long careers, so there is a willingness to invest in training. You can move around to many various areas or stay in one place, both are acceptable. There is no salary negotiation, since the annual review process tries to be fair to everyone. Promotion is almost always from within. For many of these above reasons there are more women, even in management, in technical roles than comparable private-sector employers. (Not that there are huge numbers of women, but, for instance, I once had a female direct supervisor and the three levels above her.) Health insurance is excellent and affordable. Since it's located further out than the most expensive parts of the Bay Area, it's possible to buy a home in town. Lots of people bike to work.

    Cons

    The wait for clearances is routinely 18 months or more (The Washington Post says an average of over 15 months, don't know where the management is getting this 12-13 number). However, LLNL has no control over (or visibility into) that process. Many areas of basic science, such as lasers, seismology, computer science, etc. have some connection to nuclear weapons work, if you find that objectionable. Salaries are lower on an absolute basis than the private sector, though the per-hour rate, especially if you factor in commuting and benefits, is competitive. No stock options, obviously. Because of the weird management structure, we get most of the restrictions of being federal employees with few of the benefits of being, technically, private sector contractors. So no federal GS steps or cost of living adjustments, but also no pension or TSP (thrift savings plan). Getting hired in the first place is difficult unless you have very high-level technical skills or know someone involved in the hiring process, you must be a U.S. citizen for most jobs. There is a fair amount of training, not nearly as much red tape as I expected at the level of individual employees. Once you get into management, it is pretty bad. There are 250 separate Department of Energy policies, orders, and mandates that LLNL must adhere to, and all of it is subject to auditing for compliance. It took me hours and hours of work, and probably a solid week from my administrative staff, just to get one off-site collaborator approved for computer access. And then it has to be renewed (somewhat less work) every year. If you just want to write code or do science, the burden is minimal. There is lots of LLNL-specific jargon.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Interesting Projects, Out of Date Policies, Red Tape"

    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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Nowhere else will you get to work on so many amazing projects, all within one square mile. Energy, Environment, Biology, really big lasers, and more! Get tired of your current project? Go find another one without leaving your workplace. There aren't many places left where you can really build a long-term career, and this is one where you can. The people here are, for the most part, committed, caring, and very, very intelligent. They're a great group to work with.

    The 401k plan is very good. There's a great match, even if you're new to the lab, and it just gets better the longer you're here.

    Cons

    "The Lab." The lab just celebrated its' 65th Anniversary, and sometimes it shows its age.

    They haven't caught up on things like telecommuting. Housing prices in the Bay Area are SO high. Most people have significant commutes in bad traffic, which could be somewhat alleviated with a reasonable telecommuting policy. But for the most part, it isn't permitted.

    Salaries have not kept up with industry in the tech fields. Housing costs here are so high, even with a lab salary you could be easily outpriced.

    Benefits used to be much better. For anyone coming in now, the pension is long gone (though the 401k and match is very generous). Health benefits are pricier and not as good as what is often offered out in industry. And your yearly raise, if you get one at all, could be easily wiped out by that year's health insurance cost increases. Downside of working somewhere where the average age is so high.

    There are a lot of retirements. Big brain-drain. The lab cannot (or will not, sometimes hard to tell) hire fast enough to take advantage of the knowledge of those leaving. The hemorrhage of talent between retirements and turnover in tech positions (commutes and comparatively low salaries are big contributors here) is painful. Those that are left end up doing more and more, resulting in burnout and then more departures.

    Inflexible policies. Flex time? Good luck with that. Tele-Commute? Funny (see above). Need some time off? Hope you have the vacation time accumulated (and you can track down all of your bosses to approve it), or you can take leave for an approved reason. Good luck finding someone who can help you figure that out. You really want to avoid working with the Benefits or HR department, if you can help it.

    They have great programs as far as health, working out, specialty classes. Good luck getting the time to participate, especially if you have a family and a commute (constrained time). And the latter two are not free.

    Job stability isn't what it once was. Overhead costs are so high that it's harder for projects to hire as many people as they really need, and money is often unstable.

    You CAN go find another project when you want to, but most don't make it easy to do. Projects get very insulating, it's hard to find out what else is out there.

    Frequent reorganizations that don't actually ever seem to improve anything.

    Advice to Management

    * Work on more flexible policies.
    * Benefits and HR need to re-learn that their job is to help employees.
    * Bring down the cost of overhead.
    * There is TOO MUCH MANAGEMENT! I have two bosses right now, and that's the lowest I've had in years.
    * Make it easier for employees to move around within the lab.
    * The ranking system is time-consuming and demoralizing. If you do the same great work year after year, you move down because you're not doing more and different great work. There's something wrong with this.

    You have a lot of employees here that are trying to manage families, awful commutes, and terrible traffic. It's a fragile juggling act and you aren't helping. BART is great, but it won't help people with young kids who need more flexibility, and for most people it's going to INCREASE the commute time if they want to use it. If you want to attract and keep good people, and you can't improve salaries, try making the lab a more welcoming place to work.


Showing 27 of 492 reviews
Reset Filters