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MIT Boston Reviews

Updated June 12, 2017
75 reviews

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Boston, MA Area

3.0
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MIT President L. Rafael Reif
L. Rafael Reif
25 Ratings

75 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Good work life balance (pick a reasonable supervisor) (in 35 reviews)

  • I can work with smart people in a good facility (in 61 reviews)

Cons
  • Some people struggle with work/life balance (in 41 reviews)

  • Long hours when combined with research and classes (in 31 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Research Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Assistant in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Research Assistant in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at MIT full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Brilliant people all around
    Fast pased projects to keep you busy

    Cons

    Management can vary wildly
    Disconnect and practically no work culture, since labs are mostly PHD students working on their own thesis

    Advice to Management

    Now MIT is practially a huge empire or small city within Cambridge and I only received a small taste, Co-Oping there. But frankly the lab I worked in, my boss was incredibly rude and uninspiring. I guess you get that when you have smart people that are a little socially awkward, they end up being jerks. Anyways, I learned a lot, and I am grateful for that.


  2. "Mixed experiences, highly dependent on advising"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in Cambridge, MA

    I have been working at MIT full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Incomparable resources, institutional reputation and opportunities to participate in world-class research (and learn from a handful of excellent teachers)

    Cons

    Experience is highly dependent on fit with lab & advisor, and since MIT doesn't implement rotations like other institutions (e.g. Harvard), you are to some degree going in "blind" to graduate school

    Advice to Management

    Implement lab rotations across the Institute!

  3. "Great opportunities but be prepared for extreme work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Associate in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Associate in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at MIT full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    You can get easily in contact with high ranked people in the companies
    Prestige

    Cons

    Extreme amount of work, sometimes there will be weeks when you have to work 14 hours per day 7 days a week.


  4. Helpful (3)

    "Often Overwhelming, Sometimes Positive, Rarely Overwhelmingly Positive"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at MIT full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    MIT attracts some really talented and enthusiastic people as grad students and post docs. The possibilities for fruitful collaboration and interaction are great, but you have to be savvy about it. (See the cons)

    Wonderful technical staff. You should really try to make friends with the technical instructors in the shops, academic teaching labs, and shared facilities. There's a lot these people can teach you.

    Top notch recreational facilities (a couple gyms, a sailing pavilion, all really nice)

    MIT has a lot of money dumped on it from several different sources. This results in unusual opportunities (like blacksmithing or glass blowing, cool 3D printers, etc) and if you know where to look, you can often rescue useful lab equipment from the trash.

    Realizing and coming to grips with the cons I've listed provided me an opportunity to cultivate fortitude and wisdom--so not altogether bad.

    Cons

    Departure from Reality
    Much of the research is massively overhyped for both its technical audience and the public, often consciously. The differences between what's actually done at MIT and what's done elsewhere are smaller than might be imagined, but the profs here excel at salesmanship above all else. When you talk to people involved in student startups, and drill down to the specifics of what they're doing, you often find they're based on fundamentally flawed concepts. These people aren't being willfully dishonest, they've just succumbed to delusion and it can be heartbreaking to see when you consider the resources at their disposal to figure things out.

    More Exploitative than Anticipated
    If you're going to grad school, you basically accept that you're signing yourself into indentured servitude in exchange for apprenticeship. The trouble is that it turns out it's not really apprenticeship at all. Most of the labs here are run like idea farms for the benefit of the career and reputation of your prof, often with little to no meaningful input or guidance from him or her. This can be especially true if your prof has acquired you to do things outside his or her area of expertise. Independence is great, but feeling deeply accountable for the quality of something that someone else is taking credit for can be a tough pill to swallow year after year. Some profs adopt strategies for maximum short term output from their labs that can be pretty brutal on everyone involved (including them).

    Counterproductive Competition (occasionally)
    Most people here are great, but there's a small subset that are pathological narcissists skilled exclusively in using others to accomplish their aims, meanwhile reassuring themselves and others of their inherent superiority. This is an unfortunate byproduct of the prestige of the institution--it attracts these types and they can't be easily recognized from a CV or an interview. All I can say is that if you've developed useful capability, you need to be wary that you aren't being manipulated or sabotaged; these things happen. Don't let it prevent you from interacting, but you have to always keep on guard in the back of your mind. This chess game can take some getting used to if you come from healthy, mutually supportive intellectual environments. These people are rewarded and reinforced their behavior before they're spit out into the world.

    Advice to Management

    It may seem like everything is going great, humming along and garnering attention and praise and whatnot, but the ever-growing divide between the perceived quality of the work that's done here and the actual quality of the work that's done here should concern you. Capabilities can take a generation to erode, but perception can be reversed overnight.

    The incentive structure of academic science and engineering research (publication volume>quality, "impact"> reproducibility) is toxic and self defeating. I realize it's not really your fault, but if you want to earn your claim to leadership as an institution, you need to play a bigger role in fixing it.


  5. "graduate student"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at MIT (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    best science in many of the fields

    Cons

    enormous pressure on producing results

    Advice to Management

    make better working environment for students


  6. "Post-doc Life"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at MIT full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    + MIT has tremendous financial support for hardware (great if you're in robotics).
    + There are several very smart people working on great research that you can approach.
    + Recently, postdocs were given free transit access, which is a definite plus.

    Cons

    - There is a strong demand to continually demo projects, which has little academic or practical purpose.
    - There is a large demand for postdocs to supervise and do general administration in large groups. This limits the scope a postdoc has for independent research.
    - There are many benefits for students at MIT, but few of them carry over to the postdocs.

    Advice to Management

    Treat the postdocs as more valued employees. Cover their health expenses, subsidize athletic center membership, etc. There should be basic guidelines in place for the postdocs hired so they are not left to manage the group in lieu of doing research.


  7. "TechCaller"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - TechCaller in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - TechCaller in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at MIT part-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    They provide snacks during breaks, and free food to the shift that performed best the previous week. Evenings during weekdays and both afternoons and evenings during weekends. Regular scheduled hours.

    Cons

    Extremely exhausting and often times brutal to talk to alums who don't want to give back. Sucked the life out of me and made me feel terrible. Did not contribute positively to my undergraduate experience at MIT.

    Advice to Management

    Stop making us continue to talk to people who treat us badly. It is very degrading and shows we only care about funds rather than how students or other employees are treated.

  8. "RA-MIT"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Graduate Student Researcher in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Graduate Student Researcher in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at MIT full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Top notch facilities, and excellent talent.

    Cons

    Variable and inconsistent management styles. Stressful culture.

    Advice to Management

    Be open to new culture


  9. "Ok place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Staff in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Associate Staff in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at MIT full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    -Major holidays off and pretty good vacation time accrual
    -Lots of great colleagues
    -Very mission-driven
    -They still have a pension plan!

    Cons

    -Very difficult to move up, lots of HR red tape
    -If you don't negotiate a good starting salary, you'll stay behind - annual raises are very limited

    Advice to Management

    Make it easier to retain employees - introduce flexible work options and improve reviews/salary increases policies.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Great growth opportunity but you'll need a stiff upper lip"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant At MIT in Cambridge, MA
    Current Employee - Graduate Research Assistant At MIT in Cambridge, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at MIT full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - Chance to work with stellar academics and fellow students; conduct and contribute to cutting-edge research.
    - Relatively decent pay for RAship/TAship
    - Great opportunity to take courses from the top researchers in their respective fields.
    - Easy degree requirements allowing plenty of time to do research (depending on the departments).
    - Graduating from MIT opens a lot of doors in both industry and academia.
    - Great resources
    - Extracurricular activities in pretty much everything. (MIT students are a lot more socially active than people think)
    - Flexible summer work/internship options (depending on the research group).

    Cons

    Have been a PhD student here for several years, so I have seen plenty of the dark-side as well:

    - Exploitative behavior by many professors in various departments. Departments often turn a blind-eye and students often don't complain due to fear of retaliation (and some professors actively do retaliate).
    - Very difficult to maintain work/life balance, very easy to burn-out. Most students don't speak out for fear of being judged.
    - Very high graduate student tuition disrupts funding and causes student-advisor tension (e.g. PhD students often cost twice as much as Postdocs)
    - Very complicated handling of funding by the institute (e.g. Fellowships don't cover astronomic tuition costs, and departments have to do a lot of scrambling to get the remaining tuition, again causing friction between the professor, student, fellowship institute and the department)
    - Extremely high rates for work-related mental and physical health problems throughout the institute, MIT medical is pretty inept in addressing many of these issues in a timely and professional manner (e.g. was once told by a MIT medical doctor to finish my paper before taking time off due to physical pain).
    - A lot of politics and bureaucracy. ( e.g. since there are many successful students at MIT, departmental elimination rounds for fellowships can be very competitive and political).
    - Archaic systems live alongside cutting-edge infrastructure (e.g. The indecipherable Websis/MITPAY payment system is guaranteed to frustrate you every time you need to pay anything).
    - Very heavy (and sometimes exploitative) TAship loads, which deter students from signing up for TAship to improve their teaching skills.

    Advice to Management

    - Simplify funding
    - Crackdown on abuse and exploitative behavior by professors
    - Listen more to the students (e.g. creating safe platforms for them to speak up without fear of being judged or retaliation from professors).
    - Overhaul the archaic infrastructure that wastes everyone's time
    - Reduce TAship hours, open up more TAship positions


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