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Los Alamos National Laboratory Reviews

Updated August 24, 2017
30 reviews

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Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Terry C. Wallace
Terry C. Wallace
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30 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • A good work-life balance is important here; with the exception of deadlines, most people work their 40 hours a week and go home (in 26 reviews)

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

Cons
  • Small town has limited activities for the more urbanesque (in 23 reviews)

  • Need to go to Santa Fe for any nightlife (in 17 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (5)

    "Occupational Safety & Health"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Los Alamos National Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Alternative schedule with every other Friday off. 401K is above average but not the best out there.

    Cons

    Unethical and predatory hiring practices. Mangement is totally untrustworthy and rewards for good work are few to non-existant. Salaries are average to below average unless you are under a union contract. Benefits are average, but vacation is the worst I have seen in 30 years of work. Unwilling to negotiate anything when offered job. Managers at LANL just plain do not care about their employees! Bad culture!

    Advice to Management

    McMillan should come out of his crystal palace and talk to his employees more than at mandatory meetings a few times per year. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business. Fix the management culture by develop a people-first culture where employees feel valued and appreciated. This is paramount!


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Scientist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Lots of smart people and interesting projects. Incredible amounts of computer hardware.

    Cons

    Management is so distracted by safety and security theater that they have no capability of actually moving the institution into the 21st century. The middle of the employee age demographic has moved elsewhere, leaving those near retirement to mentor those fresh out of school.

    Advice to Management

    Stop doing things you can't measure the value of. It used to be that nuclear testing showed who knew what they doing, and who didn't. There is no such filter any more.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Overall, a very poor experience at LANL"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Creative thinking, colleagues, research topics, flexible schedule

    Cons

    Everything on the administrative side. HR was late getting my paperwork processed and resulted in a two month delay of my full-time benefits (insurance, vacation days accrued, holiday pay). When I left the lab, they were late processing my change of status which resulted in two invoices being sent to me for healthcare benefits I did not need anymore. For such an advanced research facility, it is sad to see the administrative side run so poorly.

    Advice to Management

    Coordinate in-house hiring better. The slow response from the lab at the end of my fellowship lead me to seek employment from external sources, even after having a productive PhD experience at the lab.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Not a good place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Good benefits, competitive pay. Other than that I could not point to something that other companies are not currently offering. Is just a job

    Cons

    Quite plagued with favoritism and nepotism. It doesn't matter what you know to advance your career but who do you know. For students don even bother to apply, your position will be given to the son of, or the nephew/niece of. If you are not to the approval of management you'll find your self stuck in the same position forever regardless of the work you do.

    Advice to Management

    Stop promoting only the people you like. Verify for yourselves the accomplishments and work done by individuals, many team leads are biased in their in their feedback to upper management. Do real evaluations of the work individuals perform. Open employment opportunities to everybody not just relatives of well connected employees.


  5. "Software Developer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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.


  6. Helpful (1)

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

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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.


  7. "Not that great"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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

  8. Helpful (1)

    "A good place for followers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    *Had access to speakers and researchers of excellent caliber.
    *Some facilities are cutting edge.
    *Networking opportunities extant.
    *Flexibility with time spent on job as well as parental leave options.
    *Good for people who are passionate about working until the job is done.

    Cons

    *Remote location.
    *Lack of consistent culture and ability to cross-pollinate effectively with other disciplines.
    *Facilities failing and some equipment is twice the age of youngest employees.
    *Little ability to work remotely resulting in unnecessary commutes.
    *Inconsistent messages about work expectations
    *Lacks comprehensive child care so responsibility falls on new parents.

    Advice to Management

    *Inconsistent communication across levels of management.
    *Expectations for employees intentionally left unclear to allow bullying behavior when managers feel subordinates are out of bounds.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "HR"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "QA Specialist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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.


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