Smithsonian Reviews | Glassdoor

Smithsonian Reviews

Updated October 27, 2017
12 reviews

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2.0
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Smithsonian Secretary Dr. David J. Skorton
Dr. David J. Skorton
2 Ratings

12 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • It provides a great work/life balance (in 6 reviews)

  • Great people, exceptional cause, interesting work (in 10 reviews)

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

  • Not much room for advancement if working in administrative field (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Poor Poor Leadership"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Love Hate Relationship with the Smithsonian as well.

    Cons

    The Smithsonian's higher level leadership has absolutely no accountability. They are poorly trained, if they have the title they are pandered to shamelessly, they don not have a 21st century skillset to lead and manage highly functioning teams. The Institution has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars training the ranks between grades 11-14 preparing them for higher level leadership as the old guard hangs on and when there are opportunities to promote they hire from the outside , don't support staff succession and disenfranchise those who can move the Institution forward. It's a dead sea for real growth.

    Advice to Management

    None, its a waste of energy


  2. "Intern"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern

    Pros

    Staffs are friendly and fun environment to intern at

    Cons

    Internships are unpaid for many students

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Love/Hate Relationship"

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    I love the Smithsonian. The mission, the collections, the locations are truly world-class. The cache of working at the Smithsonian makes you blush at parties. The public loves SI. The work we do often makes a difference in many people's lives. We are the official cultural institution of the US, and also perform a tremendous amount of scientific research. It's really a magical place (some days).

    Cons

    I hate the Smithsonian. We're poor and filled with a large cadre of long term federal employees who checked out decades ago. Some of the worst managers I have ever worked with, who haven't updated their style since 1963. Management by fear and discrimination, promotes friends and suppresses those who actually perform work. Promotion? Dream on. People sacrifice their health for the institution with some literally dying in the office from stress. There is no accountability or repercussions for managers.

    Advice to Management

    Please offer an early out and get the old timers out of the building. Many of them are a waste of good air (and my tax dollars).


  4. "Intern"

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Good opportunities to learn from experienced individuals

    Cons

    No career options beyond the internship


  5. "Editorial Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Federal benefits, alternative work schedule option

    Cons

    Bureaucratic environment, slow-moving and resistant to change, egotistical directors and scholars


  6. Helpful (5)

    "Confluence of the drawbacks of government, non-profit and academe"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Development Department Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Development Department Assistant in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    The institution offers wonderful educational benefits to the Washington, DC community and to people all over the world. Funding for the institutions activities is very stable overall, so there are few budget crunches. There is a lot of variety between the units, so some of them have excellent working environments.

    Cons

    The internal management systems are bureaucratic and inefficient. There is a lot of competition between individuals, departments and factions within departments. There is little flexibility for management to eliminate employees who are inefficient or are not contributing positively to a team environment.

    Advice to Management

    Watch turn-over rates carefully, to determine which departments have efficiency issues or problem employees who negatively impact morale.


  7. "I wouldn't reccomend .."

    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
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    -Learn practical work experience
    -No security check for museum access

    Cons

    -Upper management needs major improvement
    -No opportunities for career growth and development
    -Office politics are at play for sure here
    -Under qualified supervisors

    Advice to Management

    Listen to employees and offer opportunities to interns

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Great experience only for people under 28 years old"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    This is a review for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In particular for the temporary jobs that usually open for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The Festival is amazing and to be part of the experience is rewarding. You get to do your job and to learn about the cultures that at showcased at the Festival.

    Cons

    Most of people that work on the Festival are contractors and very young (23-28). They do not know how to cooperate as a team because each one has a specific task and they work individually. This is very young and competitive people, and not a collaborative culture. The Director doesn't cooperate, she changes her mind and lacks of leadership. Too bad such a great experience is filled with chaos and lack of cooperation.

    Advice to Management

    Promote a sense of ownership among all the workers and collaboration. Work with more experienced people. Assign mentor tasks to the full time employees that work on the Festival. Strengthen the Director leadership with clear and definitive decisions, respect deadlines, get a more diverse team (ages, backgrounds).


  9. Helpful (4)

    "Prepare to have your heart broken."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Everyone is impressed when you tell them where you work

    Cons

    Lots of red tape and politics. You can love the Smithsonian, but it won't love you back.

    Advice to Management

    The current model for funding and management doesn't work. It can't keep being such an archipelago.


  10. "Contract Administrative Employee"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Anonymous Contractor
    Former Contractor - Anonymous Contractor
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Smithsonian as a contractor (More than a year)

    Pros

    Friendly people, seemed like once you had a job you had excellent benefits, compensations

    Cons

    Too many "directors" in one office who were just given the title due to length of time. Too much interoffice squabbling and pettiness between divisions. Serious lack of authority and control over management staff. Major overturn of financial officers due to lack of appreciation.

    I was put up for hire, went through background check and then after months of being led on, having to provide multiple copies of everything it all fell through and they removed my position shortly after I finally gave up and moved on.


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