Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory "department of energy" Reviews | Glassdoor

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Employee Reviews about "department of energy"

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7 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Compensation Analyst"

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

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

    Pros

    Extremely bright individuals work here. You get an opportunity to learn from them. The Lab cares about your career growth Love working for such a great place

    Cons

    To many procedures to follow for the Department of Energy

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Sep 7, 2018 – Recruiting Group Leader

    Thank you for your review. LLNL encourages opportunities for learning and career growth so we are glad you feel supported in these areas.


  2. 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.

  3. "Strong mission - making a difference"

    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 (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    I love working for an organization whose mission is national security. The "big" science that happens here is second to none. Most people are working here because they want to make a difference. Sure money is important, but I believe in the mission. Our benefit package is good, work-life balance is fabulous, and the people I work with are the best. We can still have fun, but get the job done!

    Cons

    LLNL is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy; therefore, fiscal restraints make it challenging. Also, we are subject to a LOT of bureaucracy, but considering the type of work we perform, I've learned to deal with it.

    Advice to Management

    Always look for opportunities to communicate and receive feedback and, most importantly, listen to the feedback with an open mind.


  4. "leading edge work plus bureaucracy"

    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
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    first-rate colleagues, exciting research in progress, excellent computer facilities, flexible hours, nearby housing is cheaper than most San Francisco Bay Area locations.

    Cons

    Heavy-handed unproductive "oversight" by the Department of Energy, lots of rules, generally unhelpful and unfriendly Bechtel-based upper management culture.

    Advice to Management

    Try to be more open about what you're doing and why.


  5. Helpful (11)

    "Five years in, still my dream job"

    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 5 years)

    Pros

    I'm coming up on the second year after finishing my postdoc. My title is nothing fancier than "Computer Scientist". I have no stock options, no one drops by to give me an in-chair massage, and I have to pay for my own snacks.

    However, when I was talking to my director about how I'd be evaluated going forward, she had a simple answer: what was the impact I had, both on the wider field of computer science and the lab's mission.

    Within that remit, I've been given as much freedom as I can handle and significant, ongoing support in competing for resources. When I'm able to acquire resources (and that's not been a problem so far), I'm able to hire brilliant student interns and postdocs, buy equipment, and get significant time on some of the largest supercomputers in the world. I have access to research staff at Intel, AMD, IBM and Cray, as well as to the physicists who are trying to squeeze as much performance as they can out of our systems. I can attend the conferences I need to, whether foreign or domestic. And best of all, I can see the results of my research percolating back out into the community.

    If I were at a largish company in Silicon Valley, I expect my research would be far more practical (and much more aligned with corporate goals). If I was in academia, my work would necessarily be far more theoretical, as I wouldn't have ready access to the big machines. At the lab, I have the best of both worlds.

    On a more personal note: the people I work with are generally world-class researches in their area, and really nice. While there's the usual stress of competing for funding, we don't tend to compete against each other, so there's far more camaraderie than most academic departments. I'm finding out that the phrase "no one has tried that before" tends to follow me around, but I've never had a good idea dismissed out of hand.

    In short, I bump up against my own limitations much more than limitations imposed by the lab. As a scientist, I'm not sure I could ask for a better employer.

    Cons

    "Nimble" is not a word I would use to describe the lab. There is quite a bit of process in place, and trying novel approaches tends to run headlong into that process. I'm learning, though, that being persistent, friendly, persistent, responsive and persistent does eventually allow new science to be done, and subsequent ideas do tend to get implemented faster.

    The support staff we have tends to get cut first during downturns, as it's difficult to quantify how much time the scientific staff lose in dealing with budgets, travel, etc. That said, when I've asked for help, I've gotten it.

    I'm mostly supported by "soft money" and that's not going to change anytime soon. This does constrain how far out I can plan things like hiring, and it does focus my efforts more on winning the next grant rather than making software people will actually use.

    At a higher level, the Department of Energy is currently favoring fewer, larger projects over many smaller ones, which makes it difficult for younger scientists to get the experience they need to eventually run large projects.

    Advice to Management

    Increasing the administrative staff would be a huge help.

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Sep 15, 2014

    Thank you for offering up such a thoughtful review. It’s great to hear that you’re expected to make an impact, and given the freedom and support to make it happen. We will share your advice with... More


  6. Helpful (4)

    "Best place I have ever worked, but still room for improvement."

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

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

    Pros

    City of Livermore is a great place to live. There are opportunities to participate in world-class science. Much of the work is satisfying and important to our Nation's security. I am frequently proud of what I accomplish here. Almost everybody is hard-working, conscientious, and intelligent. I use the knowledge I gained in school, I have the tools I need to get my work done.

    Cons

    The Department of Energy (LLNL's master) is a seriously screwed up organization. Numerous stupid policies and procedures. Wild swings in funding. Salaries are just average, no bonus or stock options. LLNL used to have a pension plan and employees would stay for life, now LLNL just has a 401K. LLNL feels like a government job (low salaries, bureaucracy, slow to change) but without the pension.

    Advice to Management

    Resist the stupid policies and procedures that are initiated by Washington. We need less strategic planning, more strategic doing. Act like a business.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Good resources for research, but many restrictions because of classified information"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Intern in Livermore, CA
    Former Employee - Intern in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Lots of interesting projects. Facilities that can be found nowhere else (such as the National Ignition Facility). Connections to famous researchers.

    Cons

    The lab (or rather the U.S. Department of Energy) places far too many restrictions on unclassified projects. These restrictions put a significant damper on creativity, collaboration, and experimentation.

    Advice to Management

    Unclassified research projects should be subject to less intellectual property restrictions. I imagine that numerous Lawrence Livermore-based research projects have been reinvented elsewhere because of LLNL's "lock it all in a safe and throw away the key" approach to intellectual property.


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