Naval Surface Warfare Center Reviews | Glassdoor

Naval Surface Warfare Center Reviews

Updated August 2, 2017
101 reviews

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101 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Big Navy, big government equals red tape (in 8 reviews)

  • Serious lack of leadership/mentorship (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (3)

    "A very bad experience working at NSWC-IH."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Engineer in Indian Head, MD
    Current Employee - Engineer in Indian Head, MD
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    Government benefits are pretty good

    Job security

    Cons

    Extreme bureaucracy

    Poorly maintained facilities

    Very few good scientists, engineers, technicians, & admin personnel

    Certain Departments/Branches:
    1. Bad Engineering/Management/Business Practices
    2. No/low funding for research
    3. Run some of the most absurd Defense programs
    4. Many idle and meddlesome workers
    5. Earwigging is commonplace


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Ambitious people need not apply"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Engineer in Panama City, FL
    Current Employee - Engineer in Panama City, FL
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    - Government benefits are well-known to be [currently] pretty solid.
    - Working more than 40 hours a week is always compensated with time off or overtime pay
    - Flexible work schedule.
    - People are generally nice and sociable, almost to a fault.
    - Can't lose your job no matter how lazy or incompetent you are.

    Cons

    - Unfair compensation where it will take a recent graduate with a BS 5 years to reach the starting salary of someone starting with 1 year experience.
    - No opportunity to step-up and lead until you've spent ample time in each grade, no matter how qualified
    - Ridiculous lag between ideas, funding, and execution results in missed opportunities
    - Spend more time handling beurocracy, process, and paperwork than doing any beneficial work
    - Poor communication throughout the organization as to what is happening and what needs to be done.
    - Takes months to get access to tools (such as MATLAB, AutoCad, multimeters, etc) that should be readily available to all, always

    Advice to Management

    Provide quick and easy access to tools mandatory for any engineer. Quit following and creating process for the sake of process, and question any requirement that creates more paperwork than results. Provide recognition or incentive for standout employees to work hard and achieve, rather than making them immediately turn to the private sector. Sorry, but pointing out the civic importance of your work is going to convince few highly qualified people to stick this out.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Beware"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bethesda, MD
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at Naval Surface Warfare Center full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I can't think of any

    Cons

    Inefficient HR, rampant nepotism, promotions are based on getting chummy with the right people, not merit

    Advice to Management

    Poor management is what's wrong with this command and I highly doubt any of them will be leaving or bettering themselves for the benefit of the command.


  4. Helpful (1)

    "A roller coaster ride"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Engineer in Indian Head, MD
    Former Employee - Engineer in Indian Head, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Naval Surface Warfare Center full-time

    Pros

    Pay, benefits, flex schedule were OK

    Cons

    Professional Development:
    This is the wrong place to start if you're a young aspiring engineer looking to pursue a technical path. This place is behind in terms of skills and facilities and you will find it difficult to move forward in your career or find a job elsewhere. There is a big hype for "professional development" but that really means program management, sales training and "how to talk to people". There's no balance between technical and management skills. This place might just end up a base with all managers, all selling empty cans to ONR.

    Work Environment, Culture and Values:
    Competition for research funding is rough everywhere but there's a good way and a bad way to compete. I've only seen the bad side here...

    Most proposals for the programs I've worked on had been written by "technical" leads without consideration for the time, training, and resources available to the poor souls tasked to implement them. Instead, proposals were written with the promise of delivering faster than the competition. Moreover, review panels on existing programs were not all from independent parties. Some programs were so desperate that they even tried to exploit my friendships and professional network.

    There was also this overwhelming and distressing culture of helping and intervention. If you're dissatisfied with your work one day, all of a sudden everybody will be all over your entire life, not just your work life. There was no respect for personal space. There was this big brotherish sense of "helping". My career is forever marred by the people who "spoke (and still do) on my behalf." I have tried to start over but it seems like any place I go I will always have to deal with an awkward work environment.

    Advice to Management

    and to senior engineers-

    You won't boost morale, build good rapport, or gain any respect by just calculating what to say to people based on their interactions with their friends, what hobbies they like, and other nonsense. You can try the power of suggestion and your business psychology tactics all you want, but getting people to listen or follow your lead is as simple as showing that you are working hard and doing your own job with integrity.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Stagnation"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Electrical Engineer in Indian Head, MD
    Current Employee - Electrical Engineer in Indian Head, MD

    I have been working at Naval Surface Warfare Center full-time

    Pros

    Flexible work schedule (9/8 with one Friday off during a bi-week)
    The amount of annual leave and sick leave is good

    Cons

    If you are a junior electrical engineer, you may find yourself stagnating here.

    There is very little to no opportunity to learn new skills here -- there is no mentoring for young engineers, senior engineers are too busy in their lead roles and have no time to train new engineers. Few even said they were OK just doing their work and did not even want to train anybody.
    There is no opportunity to get professional training outside of the base -- at least, in my branch I was told 'No' every time I asked.
    There are no detail/rotation assignments -- I was told they stopped providing such opportunities to their engineers after many did not return.

    The amount of bureaucracy and waiting required to purchase anything (not just expensive items but even cheap resistors) are tremendous.

    Management is poor. In some projects, there are no meetings or clean planning for work ahead (at least, such plans are not communicated). At times, there is very little work available in projects; however, at other times workload is stressful.

    From talking to others, I know that there were times when there was not enough work for everybody. Despite that the base keeps hiring new engineers to avoid being BRAC-ed and also to replace people who gave up and left for a better job.

    Also, some projects may require you to work A LOT in a very isolated environment, like a basement room or a building to which almost no other person ever goes. You may feel very physically isolated from the world and start being lonely and sad.

    Advice to Management

    Train your young engineers -- provide them a mentor, an opportunity to learn new skills, take professional classes or do a detail/rotation assignment. Given them enough work so they do not idle and feel bored. Communicate better -- have regular meetings in projects as well as discussions about their performance and other projects.

    Invest time and money your new engineers; how else are you going to keep them from quitting? I guess, the other strategy is hoping to retain those engineers who are aiming to become non-ambitious 'lifers' and let everybody else quit?


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Not recommended for anyone who wants satisfaction from their work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Port Hueneme CBC Base, CA
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Port Hueneme CBC Base, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Naval Surface Warfare Center full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    If you want to sit around doing nothing and can make it past the try out period, you will have it set
    Generous leave policy (except no maternity/paternity)
    Pride in working for your country

    Cons

    If you have a good work ethic, management will do their best to burn you out to make up for useless people
    Engineers have limited opportunities to do engineering and there is no career path for technical work (despite being called an engineering station)
    Pay not competitive with private industry
    Hiring will be frozen while budgets increase, ensuring long work hours
    Personnel are expected to travel 6-8 months out of the year, sometimes for months on end
    Management (particularly in uniform) prioritize their careers over doing the right thing for the taxpayer, warfighters, or their own employees.
    Basic things take forever (6 months to get a cell phone, 12+ months to hire a new employee who quits a year later)

    Advice to Management

    Create career paths for engineers
    Incentivize management to the right priorities


  7. Helpful (2)

    "If you have any ambition at all, RUN THE OTHER WAY!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Panama City, FL
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Panama City, FL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Naval Surface Warfare Center full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Excellent health care benefits, onsite gym, generous sick leave.

    Cons

    Arbitrary rules, management picks winners and losers, incompetent managers are never fired.

    Advice to Management

    Clear out the dead wood and start innovating. The only reason why you can remain stagnant is because you are guaranteed funding via the taxpayer.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Designer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Designer in Panama City, FL
    Former Employee - Designer in Panama City, FL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Naval Surface Warfare Center full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Only pro would be earning leave and the beach

    Cons

    Work is extremely dissatisfying(PowerPoint factory)

    No quality standards and lack of vision

    Extremely ambiguous atmosphere and tons of good old boy mentality and pretentious attitudes. Gossip is non-stop. Public belittling in front of customers from the top down.
    Massive egos and one-uppers.

    Pay is low: HR will low ball one GS pay grade below the equivalent Demo NT grade. So, if the Demo grade is NT-4 (GS 11-12) they'll pay GS 10. Which is around 7k less than a GS 11 with the same locality pay. Now you'll have to haggle just to earn the standard pay you would had if you stayed GS.

    Very disorganized but tries so hard to look like it is.

    Doesn't understand file naming conventions, blames MS for the character limit on file names.

    Everything takes forever to get done.

    Off the shelf products advertised as internal development. Similar to designing a phone app and then telling everyone you made the iPhone.

    Many EEO complaints and lawsuits

    Benefits are OVER-RATED

    Bottom line: If you're talented and ambitious need not apply.

    Advice to Management

    Stop being complacent and reactivate and start being proactive.

    Really listen to your employee feedback and make the changes. Age and color should not play a factor.

    Promotion through attrition does not equal quality management or leadership. It means you have problem.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "NSWC Crane Review"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Supervisory Engineer in Crane, IN
    Former Employee - Supervisory Engineer in Crane, IN
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    Federal health benefits are among the best, which comes with any federal civilian position. The geographic location of this site makes it for low cost of living and great outdoor opportunities.

    Cons

    Extreme nepotism throughout the organization at ALL levels!!! As an outsider, one who did not grow up in the area, it is hard to gain respect and acknowledgement based on one's own expertise and capabilities.

    Advice to Management

    Stop doing business as it has "always" been. Take into consideration the employees perspective. A happy employee makes for a successful organization.


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Not a place a scientist can develop a career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Chemist in Indian Head, MD
    Current Employee - Chemist in Indian Head, MD
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    In Research department:
    Freedom to propose own research programs.
    Some managers let you do what you want.
    Federal government benefits are pretty good.
    Many people in research are smart and trying their best.

    Cons

    In Research department:
    Upper management doesn't really understand or support scientific research; it's all engineering and project management to them.
    Research program funding is in short supply, for short durations (1 year at a time), and for a small amount of money (half a man year), making it difficult to build long-term programs or hire additional staff or post-docs.
    For PhDs, little advancement opportunity: because so many researchers have PhDs, there are few management spots.
    For non-PhDs, management doesn’t know what to do with them: still expected to write proposals even though they’re not trained to be independent researchers.
    Little career development opportunity: few other tracks for scientists to pursue besides management.
    One or two senior personnel with outsized personalities effectively determine much of the internal-money research funding, so if they don’t like you, your work won’t get funded.

    General:
    Many employees are government bureaucrats who don't want to help you even though it's their job to.
    Bureaucracy (especially purchasing computers and chemicals) is getting worse all the time, decreasing the amount of time you can spend on your actual work.
    Many old, poorly-maintained buildings; some have frequent water outages.

    Advice to Management

    Either commit to scientific research or get out of the business.
    Let scientists run the research department, not engineers.
    Stop hiring relatives of employees if they’re not qualified.
    Shield employees from pointless paperwork so they can do the jobs you hired them for.


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