NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Reviews

Updated May 7, 2021

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4.5
89%
Recommend to a Friend
95%
Approve of CEO
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Michael Watkins
Michael Watkins
115 Ratings
Pros
  • "Really great work-life balance with the 9/80 schedule(in 72 reviews)

  • "NASA JPL had a bunch of really interesting projects and had a very laid-back work environment(in 49 reviews)

  • Cons
  • "Low pay for software engineering intern positions(in 20 reviews)

  • "It can be quite expensive to live in Pasadena when you work here(in 12 reviews)

  • More Pros and Cons
    Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.

    Ratings by Demographics

    This rating reflects the overall rating of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is not affected by filters.

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    1. 5.0
      Current Employee
      Featured Review

      Great Organization

      Mar 16, 2021 - Executive Assistant in Pasadena, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Ability to move to new positions Good work environment Nice co-workers

      Cons

      Recruiting process is terrible HR needs a reboot as they are arrogant and cocky

      5 people found this review helpful
    2. 5.0
      Current Employee

      NASA is amazing

      Apr 26, 2021 - NASA Engineer in Austin, TX
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Great company structure, vertically integrated and with room to move

      Cons

      Work life balance and food in the cafe is average

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    3. 5.0
      Current Employee

      Review for NASA JPL

      Apr 25, 2021 - GNC Engineer II in Seattle, WA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The pros are the obvious ones, you get to work on missions you wouldn't be able to do anywhere else. The campus is collaborative, and the managers are generally there for your career growth. There is a lot to be learned here.

      Cons

      Career progression can be slow, in terms of getting to the next level.

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    4. 1.0
      Former Employee, more than 3 years

      The problems are strong with this one

      May 7, 2021 - Mechatronics Engineer I 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      You get to work on robots that go to space and do amazing science. You won't find this kind of work anywhere else. At the end of a long project, you'll be able to say that something you contributed to is in space or on another planet.

      Cons

      - Poor pay compared to industry. You will be renting forever unless you want to commute 1+ hours each way. - HR is ignorant of the fact that Pasadena is a very expensive area. Good luck negotiating salary, especially if you are a woman or a minority. You'll be gaslighted until your hair catches fire. - Management is ridiculously bad, especially in the engineering sections and divisions. They promote the best and/or favorite engineers to be managers, which kills two birds with one stone: you now have a bad manager who doesn't want to be there and you've lost a brilliant technical person. Well done management. - Sexist old boys club. As a woman, I lived with daily gaslighting, questioning of my qualifications and ability to do my job, and highly inappropriate jokes, both verbally and in emails. In one particular incident, the presenter in a meeting said that he preferred working with men in the lab because "women tend to cry when things get difficult." The higher ranks are overloaded with old, white, baby boomer managers and technical experts that are clinging onto the old ways like their lives depend on it. Don't even bother trying to change their minds because it's not going to happen. - No support. From anyone. You go to your manager with a problem? Watch them spend the next 20 minutes explaining to you that you're simply over-reacting and should maybe try harder/work more hours. Ah, the sweet smell of gas. That is if they'll even make time in their "busy"? schedule to meet with you in person. Wait 2 months, then watch as they lose their mind and yell at you when that thing you asked for their help with threatens to delay a milestone. Unless you're the part of the project that is so on fire it's going to delay the launch, your requests for help will go unheard. - No opportunity for advancement unless enough managers decide they like you. - Rampant favoritism. Managers and high up technical people pick who they like and if you're not one of the lucky ones, you won't go anywhere. Those that are chosen get all the help and support they desire and are listened to in meetings because they have someone that will back them up. - Remember that scene from Star Trek when the Centaurian slug burrows its way into Captain Pike's head? That's kind of what it feels like in a JPL design review, except instead of a slug eating at your brain it's the words of the reviewers. It is brutal. There is no respect if you have been there <~15 years If you're <5, I'd suggest covert kleenex earplugs. You will be yelled at, told you're an idiot, etc.... Reviewers have gotten out of their chairs and started smacking the projection of a powerpoint on a whiteboard. Poor whiteboard. - If you're seen as brilliant and valuable enough to the lab, you're safe from discipline no matter what you do. Managers will cover up anything and everything. - Everything is a competition between employees due to the practice of ranking employees for raises. Employees will battle with each other for resources and throw their teammates under the bus to preserve their image to management. - Poor training, no standard documents/procedures. Reinventing the wheel is rampant. Documentation? HA. - Bad parking. Road to the east lot floods when it rains. Watch out for glass that gets carried into the wash, it'll shred your tires.

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      2 people found this review helpful
    5. 5.0
      Current Employee, less than 1 year

      Great place to wok

      Apr 12, 2021 - Subcontracts Manager 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      I appreciate the 9/80 schedule and the willingness of my management to consider time off requests. Another positive aspect of the job is that your work turn over is pretty quick and always changing, really keeps you on your toes.

      Cons

      does not pay as well as other companies in the industry

      1 person found this review helpful
    6. 5.0
      Former Employee, more than 3 years

      Rewarding challenges, inspiring environment

      Feb 28, 2021 - Data Scientist in Pasadena, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Brilliant colleagues Flexible work environment Energizing campus Freedom to consult/side-hustle Inspiring vibe; like a university with the drive to actually do things

      Cons

      Pay can be low compared to other tech jobs ("We don't see Google as our competition" -HR during negotiation) Management track for young-ish high achievers doesn't exist I place these as cons because they eventually became that for me. But if you're a technical person who loves the technical problem, these probably aren't substantial complaints. I realized I enjoyed more and was better at architecting and "selling" solutions than implementing them and JPL didn't really offer a growth path for this... And yes since I've left the lab I've made 2-3x more, but I've never been as excited to go to work every day as I was at JPL.

      1 person found this review helpful
    7. 5.0
      Current Employee

      Great Place to work

      Apr 23, 2021 - Principal Systems Engineer in Pasadena, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Exciting space exploration missions work, best people to work for and with, great work/life balance.

      Cons

      Can be less opportunities for advancement if that's what you are looking for

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    8. 4.0
      Current Employee, less than 1 year

      Financial Analyst

      May 2, 2021 - Financial Analyst in Pasadena, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Very team oriented. My direct manager puts a lot of effort into making sure that I'm set up for success.

      Cons

      There a a lot of different system used to pulled data from. This makes the learning curve very steep and it takes a long time to get familiar with how to extract data.

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    9. 5.0
      Current Employee, more than 1 year

      I'm very proud to be with this ground breaking organization

      Apr 19, 2021 - Business Administrator in Pasadena, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Ground breaking, diverse and fun place to be in

      Cons

      Since it's a big organization, there bounds to be a lot of office politics and bureaucracy.

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    10. 4.0
      Current Employee, more than 3 years

      Very interesting research, can be bureaucratic

      Apr 3, 2021 - Data Scientist II in Pasadena, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      - Incredible research for anything space / planetary science / robotics related - Very open and collaborative work culture - people love to share what they are working on and help you in any way they can - Best place in the world for robotic solar system exploration - Most people work on several different projects at once - you can have variety in your work if you want it, or not if you don't

      Cons

      - Can be bureaucratic / lots of red tape at times - Doesn't pay well compared to industry for computer science jobs - Upper-level management / HR isn't very transparent - Sometimes it feels as if bureaucracy gets in the way of grassroots efforts

      1 person found this review helpful
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