Smithsonian Reviews | Glassdoor

Smithsonian Reviews

Updated April 18, 2017
150 reviews

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150 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great work environment, friendly people, everyone loves to be there (in 9 reviews)

  • I have the fortune to work behind the scenes and with the public at the same time (in 5 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. "Natural History Museum - Intern"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Intern - Monthly in Suitland, MD
    Former Employee - Intern - Monthly in Suitland, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Smithsonian (Less than a year)

    Pros

    As an intern in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology I was working with some of the world's leading researchers on all things invertebrate. Everybody was down to earth and inclusive. We regularly had guest speakers via Skype during lunch hours. Often went out to lunch and for meals. Overall it was a fun environment to be in.

    Cons

    At the time Metro was under construction so commuting was sometimes difficult. D.C. is a pricey area.


  2. "Review"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program Analyst (Contractor) in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Program Analyst (Contractor) in Arlington, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Smithsonian (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great Staff (non-management), education, access to some of the best museums in the world. The educational experience is like no other place in the U.S.

    Cons

    Limited Advancement, limited growth, compensation not equivalent or commensurate with experience. GS grade levels are low for the level of work performed.


  3. "Smithsonian Security"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Museum Police Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Museum Police Officer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The benefits are solid and it's guaranteed work. If you're working the day shift, the transit benefit covers commuting quite handily.

    Cons

    There's a massive list of problems. There is little to no hope of advancement if you didn't grow up in DC, OPS is a hardcore ole boys network, the union is a bad joke, SI staff are often actively hostile to anyone in a job that doesn't require a Masters Degree (Especially at the art museums). Frequent mandatory double shifts due to 2nd and 3rd shift being stacked with people who don't feel the need to show up for work, but have been around for too long to make getting rid of them an option.

    Advice to Management

    OPS is a lost cause. Remove EVERYONE at the Lieutenant level and above and work from there.


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  5. Helpful (3)

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

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Pretty great place, not going to lie"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Education Specialist in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Education Specialist in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    At least at the Museum of Natural History, it is a casual and collegial oasis in Washington, D.C. I have the fortune to work behind the scenes and with the public at the same time.

    Cons

    Relies heavily on contract positions with no guarantee of future funding. For those like myself who are funded through a private gift that may expire, there is little effort into seeking to continue that position unless it aligns with museum priorities.


  7. "Intern Review"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Catonsville, MD
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Catonsville, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Smithsonian (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great place to network and learn. Set in downtown DC offers many places to explore outside of the museum.

    Cons

    Can get slow and boring, lack of challenging work.


  8. "Great Institution and Great People"

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

    Pros

    Some great people working on behalf of an incredible cause

    Cons

    Bureaucracy at its finest; some staff have been in the Institution for quite some time -- stuck in old habits


  9. "Incredible institution"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Program and Marketing Manager in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Program and Marketing Manager in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Working for the 'Nation's Museum' was an opportunity of a lifetime. The accessibility and proximity to scholarship and advance research was second-to-none. The opportunities for intellectual stimulation are limitless.

    Cons

    A bit bureaucratic at times.


  10. "Varies greatly by museum"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    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.


  11. "Good place to work at, but"

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Most everyone is passionate about what they do and it's a great atmosphere to work in. Pay isn't that high but once you move up the supervisory role, it can increase. Overall, everyone is great to work with and it has the feel of a more organic non profit environment while still having the structure of the federal government. Great work life balance. No one can force you to stay longer and work overtime since it's the government.

    Cons

    Pay is low, some people are lifers and have lost passion and skill in what they do. It is the federal government..


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