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Smithsonian Reviews

Updated February 16, 2018
176 reviews

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3.9
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Approve of CEO
Smithsonian Secretary Dr. David J. Skorton
Dr. David J. Skorton
30 Ratings

176 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Most people ahead of you are in full time permanent positions (in 10 reviews)

  • As a contractor the taxes you have to pay are terrible, plus no benefits (in 7 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "retail associate"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends

    I worked at Smithsonian part-time

    Pros

    Best job I've had.

    Cons

    It is very slow between the months of Febuary-April


  2. "Great and relatively laid back place, other than during special events/festivals. Less stuck up than you might expect."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Great exposure.
    Experience in plenty of fields.
    Fun people, it really was a fun place to go to work every morning.

    Cons

    Don’t expect pay or job offer after internship. The budget from the federal government is not ideal, but they should comp meals for interns at least.

    Advice to Management

    I know your budget is tight, but low level people need money too.

  3. "If you do it for the love, it often loves you back"

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Creative casual (except at executive level) workforce, genuine, honest and high achieving, a kinder gentler side of working for the Fed, if you are on that side as opposed to the Trust (~30% of staff). Travel and training may be supported per your needs. Workplace culture dependent on director of each branch. Great matching retirement benefits, and generous social partner coverage on health plans but Trust has lower bargaining power for insurance plans so can be more expensive to your take-home.

    Cons

    Typical salaries may be competitive, but against other federal agencies may be lower (but so is the stress level from what I hear at comparable fully Fed agencies) Longevity does not generally increase your wage grade, achievement may, which is not guaranteed on Trust side as opposed to Fed. Being stuck with minimal cost of living increases over 3 years, or slow down of step increases while responsibility increases really can put a dent in your long-term income goals.

    Advice to Management

    Please consider listing more "Head of" or "Chief of" GS13 positions or 12-13 ladder positions! Persons stuck performing really well in a 12 for years have very limited opportunity to transition to a GS-14/15 without a GS-13 on their history! Its a good way of losing people to other agencies when someone is considering their career midpoint and looking at the next 10-20 years.


  4. "Great employer for generalists"

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Everyone is very nice here. Plus once you get into the system it's easy to move from one unit to another.

    Cons

    As all government agencies, things move slow here.


  5. "Great Place to Work for Awhile"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Fire Protection Engineer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Fire Protection Engineer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    You learn something new each week here at the Smithsonian. The people in my division are great to work with and you get to see such amazing artifacts.

    Cons

    My department does not have the option to telework even though other divisions do. They do not promote from within. There were several jobs that were supervisory that were rewarded to people from the outside. People have been working in my department for over 30 years would be overlooked for positions that should have been theirs. You get punished for your loyalty. There is never enough money for projects and you get jerked around by budget coordinators/PMs to get inexpensive projects done. Also, no one likes our department. The previous Director ruined the reputation, so now will have to build it back up.

    Advice to Management

    Hire from within and promote staff.


  6. "Smithsonian Enterprises"

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Capital Gallery has a great office location

    Cons

    There's hardly any upwards mobility


  7. "Great influence, Federal bureaucracy."

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

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Opportunity to see, touch, ad participate in amazing moments.
    Camaraderie (varies museum to museum and department to department)
    Institution reputation
    The name kicks all doors open.

    Cons

    Debilitating bureaucracy
    Departments in individual silos
    Little cross department/museum cooperation.

  8. "Museum Specialist"

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian part-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Interesting work environment, positive work community, good benefits. Options to telework are very good.

    Cons

    Stability of employment is often tenuous, many positions are temporary with an option to renew, and that can be difficult sometimes.


  9. "Small Units need more Oversight."

    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

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Huge, well respected institution. Very competitive salaries and great benefits. You can accrue a generous amount of leave in your account annually. Improvements have been made for making flex time and remote work available.

    Cons

    Processes for communication and documentation are uneven across the institution. Some areas are very up-to-date on technology, some are antiquated and still stuck in using paper and pencil forms. If you work in a smaller unit with fewer levels of management and experience consistent problems with your supervisor or senior staff, it can be very difficult to effect change because you'd have to go outside the unit/museum and way over your director's head to effect any change.

    Advice to Management

    360 degree reviews could be helpful. Units that have had frequent director turnover in the past decade could use more support and attention from the wider institution to break out of long-standing organizational patterns.


  10. "Great place to gain experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Smithsonian part-time

    Pros

    Amazing environment to learn and grow, always something new going on

    Cons

    Nothing I can think of!


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