National Democratic Institute Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

National Democratic Institute Washington Reviews

Updated February 7, 2017
59 reviews

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Washington, DC

3.7
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Kenneth Wollack
34 Ratings

59 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • 500/day consultants tasked with doing the work they refuse to train junior staff to do (in 10 reviews)

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

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Intern"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Intern - Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Intern in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great place to work! There are opportunities to publish blog posts and undertake online training in M&E and writting.

    Cons

    If you have a couple of years of work experience already you may find yourself running out of work.

    Advice to Management

    Distinguish between undergraduate and graduate interns.


  2. "Project Assistant overall worthwhile despite being temporary"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Current Intern - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    People are super friendly, different teams have different vibes and are all pretty inclusive. You're pretty busy all the time unlike some intern/temporary positions where no one gives you anything to do. They actually put you to work and encourage you to get the most out of the job as you can.

    Cons

    You're doing a lot of grunt work and you can sometimes feel micromanaged. Just keep reminding yourself that you're the intern and not to take it personally.
    Another con--it's temporary.

    Advice to Management

    Maybe don't have 5 people look over a logistics email? It seems like a waste of manpower and feels unnecessary. In a nutshell: there's not a clear management structure and you're often getting feedback from many different people--just gotta go with the flow.


  3. "Great"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Very professional, lots of opportunities to work with experts.

    Cons

    Low pay, long hours, but this is common with NGOs

    Advice to Management

    Be more in touch with staff


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. "Outstanding NGO"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Project Assistant in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at National Democratic Institute full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    An organization that really cares about its mission and employees!

    Cons

    Nothing comes to mind currently.

    Advice to Management

    Keep providing inspiring opportunities locally and abroud.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "So much potential"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Failed Idea in Democracy"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    In the field, ability to strengthen the people and programs under the right executive leadership.

    Cons

    Although NDI is led by some of the best and the brightest in the field of democratization around the world its leadership is stall, aging, unresponsive to change and seems determined to keep themselves in power to the detriment of the entire institution.

    It's overpaid senior level positions are ancient dinosaurs eyeing the next trip opportunity to travel business class, collect per diems and stay at 5 star hotels while the rest of the staff worries about keeping their jobs due to lack of funding.

    The Human Resources department is filled with staff who seemingly are not interested in humans. They are the least sensitive and least empathic team around.

    The IT team is now led by a Trump like blowhard (a friend of someone at the top). Brought in as a consultant and has stuck around to bring havoc onto the experienced IT techs.

    Advice to Management

    This is a sinking ship captained by someone who is still arranging the deck chairs. The high overhead costs to keep the kings in power whilst the peasants go runs contrary to everything that should be good and noble about the institution and is making it a laughing stock amongst the "non-profit" community.

    National Democratic Institute Response

    Jan 13, 2017 – Talent Management and Acquisition

    We're sorry to hear that you've had such a negative experience with NDI. I hope that while you were here you shared your concerns through the feedback mechanisms that we've established for these ... More


  8. "Project Assistant - Gender Women and Democracy"

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

    Pros

    Great exposure to higher level work, you really become part of a team

    Cons

    Way too much work with no overtime pay, even with overtime hours. Little room for upward mobility.

    Advice to Management

    Decent pay for decent work.


  9. "Not fun place to work"

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

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

    Pros

    Interesting travel. Good health benefits.

    Cons

    Very top heavy, secretive, very little accountability (ironically). Very difficult to move up within organization.

    Advice to Management

    More value on employees and good management.

    National Democratic Institute Response

    Oct 31, 2016 – Talent Management and Acquisition

    Thank you for your review, although we're sorry to hear that you did not have a good experience working for NDI. it would be useful to know when you worked here, as we have been taking steps over the ... More


  10. Helpful (5)

    "Program Assistant/Senior Program Assistant"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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.


  11. "Project Assistant"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Interesting, varied work - able to learn a lot about many regions and issues. Camaraderie among lower-level staff a plus, opportunities to take on more responsibility.

    Cons

    Reshuffling in middle management, apparent lack of advancement opportunities after senior program assistant level.

    Advice to Management

    Be more straightforward with lower-level staff when making big changes and offer more chances for promotion.

    National Democratic Institute Response

    Sep 15, 2016 – Talent Management and Acquisition

    Great feedback, thanks for sharing that. I'm glad you had a positive experience at NDI but we are always looking to improve, so we appreciate the advice and will take it to heart.



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