Smithsonian Reviews | Glassdoor

Smithsonian Reviews

Updated June 11, 2018
192 reviews

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3.7
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Smithsonian Secretary Dr. David J. Skorton
Dr. David J. Skorton
35 Ratings

192 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "It provides a great work/life balance" (in 7 reviews)

  • "There is a unique work environment and people are generally laid back" (in 12 reviews)

Cons
  • "Internships are unpaid, be it part-time or full-time" (in 8 reviews)

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

More Pros and Cons

  1. "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.


  2. "Research"

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

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

    Pros

    Growth Opportunities
    Federal Govt Job Benefits
    AWS
    Annual/Sick Leave
    Research and Scholarly work is encouraged

    Cons

    Personality clashes
    Old people need to retire or move on
    Salary raises stall after a certain time

    Advice to Management

    Create an environment where colleagues are in tune with one another. Make sure curators or non administrative personnel know how finances, policies and directives work too.

  3. "Exhibit Technology"

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    The position has very good benefits

    Cons

    This is a trust position and not federal


  4. "Mixed bag"

    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 Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Wonderful to be a part of such an institution

    Cons

    Can't say for sure my wage wasn't hindered by my gender.


  5. "Theater Attendent"

    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

    Good insight to management, great team to work with.

    Cons

    None, really. Pay can always be better


  6. "Extremely Veteran-friendly"

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    They treat Veteran and prior federal service new hires with the utmost respect. They make sure you get all the credit for your post-9/11 and war-time service.

    Cons

    No commuter benefits for the first 3 months. Zero! So if you can afford to shell out the money, go for it. Perhaps you can itemize you tax deductions


  7. "Passionate people and a great mission, with normal non-profit pitfalls"

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

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

    Pros

    Everyone I worked with was passionate about the organization and committed to success. In my role from a centralized office, I was also able to observe and experience the amazing contributions being made across the Institution, and having insider access was one of the best perks of my job. Being based in the fundraising arm of the Institution, it was rewarding to see the passion that Smithsonian donors also brought to the organization. As with most large organizations, team dynamic is crucial, and my immediate team, along with my broader team, was predominantly welcoming and collaborative. Some areas of management need improvement, but overall it seemed to be moving in a good direction. Great work/life balance, good health and retirement benefits, and reasonable pay for a DC-based non-profit. Nice staff discounts at the museums, and being able to enter museums through the staff entrance (read: bypassing the lines) was an incredible perk, particularly during busy tourist seasons.

    Cons

    As with any large organization, there are wearisome internal politics, particularly once you add in the 60/40 federal/private dynamic (and be aware that government shutdowns affect the organization). Just as the benefits mimic the pros of government systems, so too does the pay scale - it is extremely difficult to advance within your role. To advance, most people must leave the organization or move between different internal units. With high turnover, people who want to stay often take on much more work than originally hired for, without the benefit of promotion or increased salary. Also, despite my department's efforts for strategic planning, priorities often shifted rapidly and without much notice. Multiple projects would get started and then shelved.

    Advice to Management

    Recognize and reward employees to improve retention

  8. "Cashier"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Smithsonian part-time

    Pros

    Able to build customer service skills

    Cons

    Low salary and no opportunities for growth


  9. "Unique Environment"

    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 Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    There is a unique work environment and people are generally laid back

    Cons

    Position classifications are on the low side for pay, some upper management is there solely by seniority rather than qualifications.


  10. "Explainer at Air and Space Museum (D.C)"

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

    I worked at Smithsonian part-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The interview process is long but entertaining as you have to perform a demo in a group setting. The explainer program is geared towards high school students and college students so it's nice to be working with a group of people around the same age apart from your coordinator. They make sure you are ready with the correct information and ability to perform before putting you on the floor. Overall great experience and great opportunity to network.

    Cons

    Only con was you must learn each demo fast enough b/c once you fall behind it seems almost as if they kinda stop helping you progress and then you're on your own.


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