National Democratic Institute Reviews | Glassdoor

National Democratic Institute Reviews

Updated July 21, 2017
31 reviews

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3.0
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Kenneth Wollack
15 Ratings

31 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Wonderful organization that works around the world to promote democratic values (in 6 reviews)

  • Interesting, varied work - able to learn a lot about many regions and issues (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • Extremely slow growth and pay increases and a hint of favoritism among certain senior staff towards certain junior staff (in 13 reviews)

  • Very difficult to move up within organization (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Project Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at National Democratic Institute as an intern

    Pros

    One of the top players in a niche industry (democracy development), great exposure working on multi-million dollar grants

    Cons

    Limited career growth opportunities, demanding grant reporting requirements can lead to burnout

    Advice to Management

    Focus more on internal promotion


  2. "Nice Environment but No Growth Potential"

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

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time

    Pros

    The liberal environment is great and there are a lot of friendly people here.

    Cons

    Extremely slow growth and pay increases and a hint of favoritism among certain senior staff towards certain junior staff.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "So much potential"

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

    I worked at National Democratic Institute full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great junior staff, solid camaraderie, important work

    Cons

    Unengaged senior leadership who are largely dismissive of mid and lower level staff. No opportunity for professional development. All below the highest senior levels are treated as completely expendable.

    Advice to Management

    Change must start at the top. The irony of a pro-democracy organization that has experienced so little change in its own leadership and does not listen to its employees is not just frustrating, but a liability to the organization's relevance.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "Great on paper, poor in practice"

    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
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    -Great people
    -Nice office
    -Great values and mission statement

    Cons

    -Pay is a joke
    -Promotions and title changes are based on the amount of time you stay at NDI, not on your skills and performance.
    -Managers do not invest in entry level staff and make it known they expect you to leave after 1-2 years.
    -Horrible coffee

    Advice to Management

    Respect and pay your entry level staff accordingly.

    National Democratic Institute Response

    Nov 28, 2016 – Talent Management and Acquisition

    Thanks for your review of NDI and your experience here. Like you, most of our employees value the mission and enjoy the office and their colleagues.

    While some of your comments are not as... More


  5. Helpful (5)

    "Program Assistant/Senior Program Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Program Assistant in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at National Democratic Institute full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Many great employees are passionate about the work and inspiring to work alongside. You will find them at all levels in the organization, junior through leadership.
    - Good mission and interesting work. I never fully drank the democracy koolaid, but the engagement NDI does with political institutions and actors around the world is worthwhile.
    - It's a great place to get experience in international development and affairs. Time spent overseas and foreign languages are seen as assets. You may even get an opportunity to travel overseas.
    - You will get to wear one million hats and gain experience in a lot of things, such as finance, program management, program implementation, reporting, writing, budgeting, grant writing, hr and hiring, tour guide to foreign dignitaries, translation, compliance - to name just a few.

    Cons

    - Just as there are great people, there are employees who know nothing, spew the same mumbo jumbo about the challenges and opportunities of democracy around the globe, are terrible writers and managers, and slack off a lot. At higher ranks these people are often cronies of the president, who is like the pope - his entourage is untouchable, no one can contradict him, and he's not going anywhere any time soon. I really think some of the senior leadership are bad managers, uninspiring, and know nothing. It's a non-profit, so you have to expect that the org will revolve around some personalities (crazies).
    - The pay is terrible. Once a manager who was looking out for me saw to it that I get a decent raise (10%) after cleaning up some serious messes caused by other people. I will say the contribution to an IRA for employees that begins after one year of service (equal to 10 percent of your salary) is good.
    - Little upward mobility. Promotions are very infrequent.
    - The administrative systems are archaic and need to be revamped immediately. I still have nightmares about paperwork. There is so much fancy footwork done in the accounting department, I have no idea how the org has survived the onslaught of audits it's been under in recent years.
    - Admin and Functional Teams that support Regional Teams ( the ones that backstop and implement programs from DC and assist field offices who are the direct implementers of the programs) generally do a terrible job (thanks for nothing) and give a lot of attitude. There are a lot of crazy people working on those admin and functional teams who are downright rude to regional team members.
    - HR is not done well. Most of the team are incompetent. The annual performance reviews are not taken seriously by many managers. Some of these managers simply don't give performance reviews to their subordinates. This is inexcusable.
    - No formal process for shifting portfolios. It's easy to get stuck working on terrible programs and there is no formal way to move around.
    - Very few formal opportunities for professional development.
    - Many board members are awesome and totally get it, but many others are totally in the game for their personal interest and gain.

    Advice to Management

    - Identify the good people and treat them well - pay, respect, opportunities, promotion.
    - Get rid of people who add no value, focusing on managers who have been with the org for more than five years. Get a new president.
    - Revamp administrative processes (some of the best former NDI employees I know have said they would only consider working at NDI again if the admin systems enter the 21st century. It's ridiculous that the org is still using Quicken (personal finance software that is completely untethered from the internet) for its field office accounting.
    - Give staff more flexibility for changing their project portfolios.
    - Reconsider org structure so that Admin and Functional teams don't do such a terrible job supporting Regional teams.


  6. "Great place to start in development"

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

    Pros

    great people, and good and interesting work.

    Cons

    salaries are low, no oversight of management, your growth depends on your team.

    National Democratic Institute Response

    Sep 26, 2016 – Talent Management and Acquisition

    Thanks for your review. We're glad that your experience has been positive and that the work is interesting. We take this kind of feedback to heart and are looking to find more consistent pathways for... More


  7. "NDI"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Program Officer
    Current Employee - Senior Program Officer
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time

    Pros

    NDI has an incredible reputation that sometimes allows other things to fall under the radar. In terms of D&G, one would be hard pressed to find another organisation that does as good work as NDI. There are a number of incredible individuals at the Institute which makes it exciting as there is the potential for learning opportunities. Since NDI is also a small organization, it provides the space to be able to work on a number of different things and flex muscles that one wouldn't be able to do at a larger organisation.

    Cons

    Opportunities at NDI are really dependent on who you work under and what team you work on. There is a lack of standardization when it comes to job titles and responsibilities. It is difficult to grow within the Institute and moving up levels does not necessarily come with changes in ones responsibilities. In addition, the pay is not the best.

    National Democratic Institute Response

    Sep 19, 2016 – Talent Management and Acquisition

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. We're glad that you've had a positive experience and hope that we can find ways for you to grow and gain new responsibilities here at NDI. As you may be... More

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Misleading Job Description"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Internship in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Internship in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    The hiring process for a full time paid internship took less than a month.

    Cons

    The job description on the vacancy announcement indicated that they were searching for an English and Spanish speaking intern. Knowledge of French was only listed as "desired". However, during my interview I was expected to answer questions in perfect French. Later I was told, twice, that I wasn't hired because they were really looking for someone who had proficiency in French. They explained most of the intern duties would be in said language.

    National Democratic Institute Response

    Aug 4, 2016 – Talent Management and Acquisition

    Thanks for letting us know about this, and I'm sorry to hear you did not have the most positive experience. Although job requirements sometimes shift during the course of a recruitment, we'll... More


  9. "Internship on the IT team"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at National Democratic Institute as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The work was easy and hours not very demanding. The team is full of nice people with interesting backgrounds. The offices are quite modern w/ kitchens on each floor. I was able to interact with people in other departments who all seemed very grateful for the IT support.

    Cons

    Team isn't very motivated, most of them expressed interest in finding other jobs. The manager was not very knowledgeable about technology- though that's unsurprising at such a non-technical place. Not a place to be if you're ambitious and want to learn a lot about IT quickly.

    National Democratic Institute Response

    Aug 4, 2016 – Talent Management and Acquisition

    Thank you for your comments. I'm sorry to hear that NDI is not a place you would recommend, although it's important to know that we have made some changes on the IT team since your internship. We... More


  10. Helpful (1)

    "I love my team, but there are a lot of hurdles and the junior people are often saddled with the grunt woke."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at National Democratic Institute as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Frequent events and compelling work. Cool office, great cybersecurity, quality accommodations. Uses Google Apps for enterprise functions. International reach.

    Cons

    Many of the teams fear innovation. Some of the most critical functions are underfunded. PAs are way underpaid. More cross-team synergy is needed.

    Advice to Management

    Communication is key to everything.


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