NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Reviews | Glassdoor

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Reviews

Updated April 18, 2018
417 reviews

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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Michael Watkins
Michael Watkins
24 Ratings

417 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great work life balance, the 9/80 work schedule is wonderful (in 47 reviews)

  • The 9-80 work schedule is a great way to ensure work-life balance (in 23 reviews)

Cons
  • there are no cons to this company (in 11 reviews)

  • Hard to get a full time job there (in 9 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (5)

    "Great place to work for recent engineering college-grads"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Sierra Madre, CA
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Sierra Madre, CA
    Recommends

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    -Getting to work on some of the coolest projects
    -Start time flexibility (as long as you meet your 40/week)
    -Many jobs allow you to work from home
    -Work phone + Laptop + Desktop

    Cons

    -Depending on project you may feel burnt out
    -Not the best at keeping track of assuring each new engineer starts in a support role

    Advice to Management

    Group supervisors do not count as mentors for young engineers. Assure that each one will be paired with a senior engineer to guide them through JPL best design practices.


  2. "retired from the Lab after a 34-year career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Engineering Technician in Pasadena, CA
    Former Employee - Engineering Technician in Pasadena, CA

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    1.) Interesting work, and important work for the country.
    2.) Not only on the leading edge of technology, but pushing the boundaries.
    3.) Beautiful campus location and environment.
    4.) The herd of semi-tame deer who have made their home in the middle of the lab.
    5.) Great compensation and benefits.
    6.) Racial, religious, and sexual equality and opportunity for everyone.
    7.) Fantastic co-workers.
    8.) Great degree of freedom to accomplish your assigned tasks.
    9.) Reimburses costs for further education.
    10.) Great personal satisfaction of being a part of something great and bigger than one's self.

    Cons

    1.) Parking. (It's been a never-ending problem for the whole of my 34 years.)
    2.) Cafeteria used to be very inexpensive, now it is not a bargain anymore and sometimes actually expensive for what you get.
    3.) Uncertain funding. Projects come and go and future funding is never secure. That is the nature of a government science organization. Still, if they want you, they will find something for you to do.
    4.) Office space tight, and getting tighter every year as the Lab grows.
    5.) Advancement very difficult, both project and line management.

    This is really not a "con" for the lab, but my own personal choices. Due to the cost of housing in the Los Angeles Basin, I elected to live outside when I could actually afford to purchase my own home. This resulted in a very lengthy commute. Add to that long commute a nine-hour work day, and I got "burned out". I awoke at 4:15 in the morning to get ready for work and didn't arrive back home until 6:00 in the evening. Even though we on 9/80 had a three-day weekend every other week, the long commute is what eventually drove me to retire. If not for the long commute, I would still be working there, even though I am now 66 years young. The work was rewarding, interesting, and fantastic. The commute is what killed me.

    Advice to Management

    To upper management, so advice.
    To lower management, facilitate a mentorship relationship to those who need it, leave the rest of us alone to do our jobs with minimal interference.

  3. "Computer Specialist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Computer Specialist in Altadena, CA
    Former Employee - Computer Specialist in Altadena, CA

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    I was a computer specialist for this company for years and now that I have finished my 13 year contract I am interested in looking somewhere else.

    Cons

    I loved working for Jet Propulsion Laboratories but the way the contract was handled at the end was very unethical.

    Advice to Management

    Management needed help very very much help here.


  4. "Title"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Current Employee - Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Flexible and supportive work environment. High morale. Get to work with exceptional peer group often working on exciting space missions

    Cons

    Overcrowded, parking is a mess, office space is hard to come by. Limited upward mobility. Some overhead associated with large government organization


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Benefits is getting more expensive every year"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Good coverage, lots of options

    Cons

    Getting more expensive every year, HR is not easy to deal with


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Looking Good"

    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 NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Great work/life balance, good pay, exciting field

    Cons

    bureaucratic, slow, old thinking,

    Advice to Management

    ethics needs to look into more wrongdoings


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Unstable working environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    If there are any interesting projects to work on, it's bearable. Usually great bright people, but politics of it is horrible.

    Cons

    Unstable working environment, projects disappear every year and people are left w nothing. Lay offs are very common.

    Advice to Management

    Don't hire people you can't retain. Less politics, more science.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Depends on the group"

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

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Many interesting tasks, some of which have a unique character and require unique approach. Offers nice additional options, such as Caltech facilities and communication with Caltech community.

    Cons

    Some of the groups (including mine) have incompetent managers, leading to unreasonable load and fast burnout. Many colleagues of mine have exactly the same problems, and some, however, are pretty much satisfied, so it really depends on the particular group. Highly bureaucratic organization of the institute in general, slowing down performance. Many skills cannot be transferred outside of the industry.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Can't recommend."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Systems Integration and Test Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Former Employee - Systems Integration and Test Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    9/80 work week, good benefits, lots of vacation and sick days.

    If you fall on a good group, you might have a decent experience.

    Cons

    If you're looking for a place to do minimal work and get awards, and a decent pay check, you'll love it here. If you actually are interested in innovation, expanding your skill set and contributing to space exploration, this is not the place for you. You will be gravely disappointed.

    Advice to Management

    Massive amounts of wasted and poorly managed funding, constructive criticism is a good thing, no need to only keep around spineless 'yes' people.


  10. "FPGA Engineer IV"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - FPGA Design Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Current Employee - FPGA Design Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    You get the feeling your accomplishments are important. There's a great learning environment. JPL has competitive salaries and benefits. There is good leadership at the top.

    Cons

    Lots of reviews. Takes up at least 25% of your time


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