Smithsonian Reviews | Glassdoor

Smithsonian Reviews

Updated August 17, 2017
39 reviews

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3.0
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Smithsonian Secretary Dr. David J. Skorton
Dr. David J. Skorton
3 Ratings

39 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great people, exceptional cause, interesting work (in 9 reviews)

  • An amazing and collaborative work environment (in 9 reviews)

Cons
  • Not many full time positions available (in 9 reviews)

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

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Intern"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern

    Pros

    Access to vast Smithsonian collections and work

    Cons

    Bureaucracy can be extensive and rough.

    Advice to Management

    Bringing interns through the institution offers them good experience.


  2. "Retail Associate"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Be a part of a great educational institution

    Cons

    Low pay and not always treated like a professional

    Advice to Management

    Honor the ideas of subordinates and do not treat them like "the little people".

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Research Scientist"

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    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Suitland, MD
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Suitland, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Smithsonian mission is broad, collections fascinating, intellectual environment, research freedom, good budgets

    Cons

    Bureaucracy, lack of accountability for supervisors, subject to whims of Congree, very male dominated and uneven compensation and advancement for female scientists

    Advice to Management

    Senior management should improve atmosphere for female scientists with sensitivity training for unit directors and other management; institute greater accountability for hiring decisions, review and promotions; improve promotion potential and leadership opportunities for women; and apply compensation commensurate with that of male peers.

    Also, reduce bureaucracy (paperwork, forms, and administrative requirements) for professional staff. That work should be the responsibility of administrators.


  4. "good highs and frustrating lows"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern

    Pros

    The collections are amazing and some of the exhibitions are great, but those are open to the public. If you are in the curatorial and educational departments you are dealing with important ideas, and the cons depend largely on the museum or unit you work for.

    Cons

    The actual work of developing exhibits is less fun. Tons of bureaucracy and important decisions often felt rushed and tense rather than carefully considered. If you are an employee, expect to work more than 40 hours a week because there aren't enough people to both do the work and attend the meetings. Felt like there was a disconnect between the culture of consensus and last-minute decisions and compromises being made behind closed doors.

    Advice to Management

    Scholars are rarely good interpreters and managers. Upper management also would benefit from knowing something about the field of the museum they are managing.


  5. "Office of Fellowships and Internships Intern"

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    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Office of Fellowships and in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Office of Fellowships and in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Outstanding exposure to other departments within SI
    Was assigned a range of projects, including data entry, writing articles, video editing
    Great location, great intern benefits (if you're into all things Smithsonian)
    It was very flexible -- if I couldn't come in one day it wasn't a huge deal

    Cons

    Sometime I had to create work for myself. The intern class during my year was very big, so assignments were split up between us -- if you're the only intern in the office you won't have a problem with too much downtime.

    Advice to Management

    The intern program my year was relatively unstructured, which was beneficial in some ways, but I think it would have ben helpful to everyone for each intern to have a specific role. All-in-all, the environment was positive, and I learned a lot.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Too much work; too little money"

    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
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    The Smithsonian Institution's mission is very important and it is a very interesting place to work. I was honored to be hired.

    Cons

    No work life balance. Job required 60 to 70 hours per week with minimal salary increases and no room for advancement.

    Advice to Management

    Hire enough staff to do the work that is necessary and don't expect one employee to do the work of two.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Administrative Coordinator"

    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

    Pros

    Excellent Institution and very interesting to work at. Opportunities to meet some of the brightest researchers in the world. Behind the Scenes events make living in DC possible on a shoe string. Good people.

    Cons

    Working at the Institution is highly sought after so wages are not particularity good. If your not on the federal side of the employment structure your job security is not as robust, even if your are a top performer. Movement upwards can be frustratingly slow and the internal administrative systems are average so if feels like a large bureaucracy.

    Advice to Management

    Rethink the Smithsonian employment structure beyond the federal, trust and contractor arrangements. They are not fairly managed, evenly accounted for or compensated.

  8. "Varies greatly by museum"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Writer/Editor in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Writer/Editor in Washington, DC
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Interesting subject matter. Some fascinating co-workers.

    Cons

    No management commitment to appropriate staffing levels.


  9. "Smithsonian Institute"

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    Current Employee - Gallery Attendant in District Heights, MD
    Current Employee - Gallery Attendant in District Heights, MD

    I have been working at Smithsonian (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Good group to work with.

    Cons

    I do not have any regrets.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Career training"

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

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

    Pros

    - collections
    - people/ co-workers
    - exciting new things to see

    Cons

    - lack of leadership - no clear goals. Strategic plans are a joke. No inclusion or transparency at all. They make and decide what they want to accomplish and you get to do all the work.
    - wage disparity from the top - down (all public information) if you are curious to know what your boss makes you can find it online. It's a total bummer how much work/soul you put into the job and well... your pay doesn't amount to much. Directors and Curators are making about 3 - 4 times the GS - 5 position and you never know what they do.
    - growth potential is minimal. Most people ahead of you are in full time permanent positions. Good luck trying to get them out.
    - favoritism is rampant. If the bosses like (i mean worship) you they will watch out for you. No questions asked. High importance on new people coming into department once your first year is up you get cycled into a stalled career and no growth.
    - most departments have too many contractors and no positions for them once they are done. So don't assume you will get a job after wards.

    Advice to Management

    Keep staff happy. Hire good and loyal staff. Pay the people what they are worth.


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