Los Alamos National Laboratory Reviews | Glassdoor

Los Alamos National Laboratory Reviews

Updated April 10, 2017
27 reviews

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Los Alamos National Laboratory Director & President Charles McMillan
Charles McMillan
10 Ratings

27 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Work life balance, 9/80 schedule (in 23 reviews)

  • Excellent pay and benefits, opportunity to work into placement instead of solely relying on prior education (in 10 reviews)

Cons
  • very small town at a remote area (in 20 reviews)

  • Next largest town is Santa Fe - 35 miles away; Albuquerque (in 16 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Software Developer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Santa Fe, NM
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Santa Fe, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Beautiful views, relaxed environment, casual dress for most areas, great colleagues with lots of experience and knowledge.

    Cons

    Pay is sub-par, Hiring is based on fear of losing older employees or more talented staff members. New hires tend to be under qualified but are hired based on need and to fill positions. Raises and Promotions are inconsistent and are not lucrative compared to other places. Decisions take too long to be made. Too much management which equates to too many hands in the pot.

    Advice to Management

    Pay your experienced and talented staff what they deserve in order to not lose them and having to settle for inexperienced or less talented staff as replacements.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Not a Good Place if You Want to Accomplish Anything"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Alamos, NM
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Alamos, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Good pay - at least for this area of the country.
    Relatively good job security, compared with some jobs.
    With many of the jobs here, you don' have to work very hard - unpaid overtime usually is an exception. But some divisions are different than others.
    Fairly good, but not exceptional benefits. 15 days vacation, and 3 extra days at Christmas for the first few years. No longer has defined benefit retirement, however it has a 401K match plan.
    Nice if you like the outdoors or small town life - but not really ideal for either..
    Town has a low crime rate; in part due to it being an upper--middle-class community of mostly security cleared employees.

    Cons

    Stay away if you want to accomplish anything in your career, if you have superior qualifications, or if you feel motivated to work hard. They won't let you work hard, even if you want to. Some divisions might be different - the ones I worked at weren't.
    A Security clearance is required for most jobs. This is often time-consuming and difficult to obtain. Forget it, if you have even a fairly minor criminal conviction.
    In larger part, with a few exceptions, it has become a non-productive government bureaucracy.
    There are stifling rules and regulations, many people spend literally all their time just dealing with these, and don't accomplish any useful work.
    The job ranking system is somewhat arbitrary. It utilizes lower numbers than most other industry rankings. You might spend all your career at R&D Engineer level 2, even though you did a competent job. At another company doing equivalent work, you might be a level 7 or 8, or called a Senior Engineer. Even Level 3 implies you are doing lower management. This low number ranking also could make you look bad when applying to other companies.
    Its glory days have passed many years ago. It is no longer the prestigious organization it once was. They still capitalize on the Manhattan Project for their reputation. That project ended more than 70 years ago.
    One of its main purposes now seems to be providing politically-driven, make-work employment for people from Northern New Mexico.
    It hires a lot of people from 4th tier and non-accredited schools within the state. If you have strong experience credentials or a good academic record, the under-qualified people may see you as a threat, and gang up against you to keep you from getting ahead. One of the under-qualified people could very well be your manager. To be fair, some of the more highly technically oriented divisions still try to hire well qualified people.
    The de-facto privatization in 2006 resulted in employees being treated with less respect, more like employees of some of the less principled large corporations
    They do not treat older people well, even if they have relevant experience, and try to push them out.
    PhD holders still often receive special treatment, even though some are less than fully competent. If you don't have a PhD, you may be able to advance only so far in some divisions.
    The town has little to do in it. It is a 45 minute drive to Santa Fe, the nearest larger community. There is little shopping in Los Alamos, except for one somewhat large grocery store. It also has a moderate, but hardly impressive, selection of non-grocery items. The store has nearly a monopoly, and is rather high priced. Everything except the grocery store, including restaurants, closes down at the start of the evening. There is a lot of small-town politics. The police force seems to be everywhere, and will pull you over and issue a ticket for the smallest violation.
    While Los Alamos is relatively safe, the surrounding areas often aren't safe, and suffer from high crime rates.

    Advice to Management

    Greatly reduce the bureaucracy.
    Get a new, meaningful mission. I have no idea what this would be.
    Expand ranking system, with many more levels.
    Hire qualified people. Stop being a work-welfare organization. Be more selective in hiring, even if you have to hire out-of-state.


  3. "Not that great"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Alamos, NM
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Alamos, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Pay and benefits are competitive

    Cons

    Location is isolated
    People are hired and then they try to figure out what you'll be doing

    Advice to Management

    Don't hire people unless you have a solid project for them to work on


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  5. Helpful (1)

    "HR"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Los Alamos, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Los Alamos National Laboratory (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great if you were hired before 2006

    Cons

    Management. Inflexibility. If you are not in the sciences you are not valued.

    Advice to Management

    Teach people how to manage. Born of innovation..get back to it.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "QA Specialist"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior QA Specialist in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Senior QA Specialist in Los Alamos, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

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

    Pros

    Independent thinking, regional outdoor activities, easy travel to nearby metropolis (Albuquerque, New Mexico, Denver, Colorado and Santa Fe New Mexico).

    Cons

    Micro Management, Controversial Environmental Impact, Lack of Managerial Support, Lack of Accountability, High levels of Stress due to lack of leadership

    Advice to Management

    Start walking around and see what is going on outside of your office and meeting schedule. Learn what your people are doing.


  7. "Unorganized, Uninspired"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Technologist I in Los Alamos, NM
    Former Employee - Research Technologist I in Los Alamos, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    days off, flexible daily schedule

    Cons

    no funding stability, inter-company competing for funding and projects, everyone back-stabbing to get ahead

    Advice to Management

    no bidding for projects or funding, just assign based on group capability (personnel, skills, equipment)


  8. Helpful (4)

    "Soul Crushing"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Los Alamos, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    * Work life balance is the best you'll find
    * Ok pay, in relatively cheap location
    * Lots of down time
    * Not much expected of you, because the bar is so low (also a con)
    * Easy career advancement; once you're hired, it's almost impossible to fire you (also a con from an external capitalist perspective)
    * You can make a lot of money if you just are willing to suffer and toe the party line

    Cons

    * Incredibly small, incredibly white middle-aged privileged town
    * Work is soul-crushing
    * Management makes decisions that make no sense
    * You'll probably work on COTS software that is 5 years old, with no documentation, because a manager thought spending 500k for the package instead of putting 2 devs on the team to make it was a better idea
    * So much red-tape your head will spin
    * You will be using 20 year old software sometimes for basic tasks, because management is so old, and so out of it, they literally are scared of anything new
    * Nonsensical security postures created and enforced by people with no understanding of modern cyber-security practices: classic government box checking (just go read about the OPM breaches, exactly what's going on here)
    * No one cares about their work; they go to work, do very little, and then leave; almost everyone hates their job
    * Bad environment for all of the above

    Advice to Management

    Retire


  9. "Laid back federal organization with outdated research esp in biological sciences"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Scientist in Los Alamos, NM
    Former Employee - Scientist in Los Alamos, NM
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good salary, excellent work-life balance. Flex hours and with schedule like 9/80, one can spend lot of time with family!

    Cons

    Poor growth opportunities, promotions driven more by whom-you-know than how-good-you-have performed! Outdated research! Not much exciting projects especially in biosciences.

    Advice to Management

    Promote research by rewarding good scientific publications; promote developing new processes and acquire key patents!


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Unproductive work environment -- unstable funding and poor management led to poor project completion."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Scientist IV in Los Alamos, NM
    Former Employee - Scientist IV in Los Alamos, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Possibility of doing physics research which cannot be done elsewhere.

    Cons

    Poor management at many levels, and chaotic priorities arising from unstable funding.

    Advice to Management

    Dismal morale could be slightly improved by empowering scientists to do work. Much of management activity is focused on hindering work.


  11. Helpful (1)

    "Los Alamos Review"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Quality Assuance in Los Alamos, NM
    Former Employee - Quality Assuance in Los Alamos, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Good pay and some of the benefits.

    Cons

    Lack of concern for employees. Major accident after major accident and management doesn't seem to care or to learn from the repeated mistakes. Retirement is geared around forcing people to work to age 65. not for time of service. Housing in the local area is hard to find.

    Advice to Management

    Start protecting the whistle blower and people that are willing to stand up and say stop work and not punish them. Which include termination. New upper management comes in stirs the lower management to correct the issue that caused the issues in the first place. The same problem manager just stay in their jobs or find others. sometimes higher in the management chain. Just because you have a degree does not mean you can lead or manage people.


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