Urban Institute Reviews | Glassdoor

Urban Institute Reviews

Updated Apr 13, 2019

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Found 61 reviews

3.6
StarStarStarStarStar
Rating TrendsRating Trends
69%
Recommend to a Friend
93%
Approve of CEO
Sarah Rosen Wartell
14 Ratings
Pros
  • "There's a pretty good work life balance, excellent benefits, and a collegial/collaborative environment(in 10 reviews)

  • "Smart people - everyone gets their own office - easy to get the tools you need to do your job(in 7 reviews)

Cons
More Pros and Cons
  1. Helpful (1)

    "Data Scientist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Data Scientist in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Urban Institute full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    An excellent place to work, full of curious and intellectual public servants. The Urban Institute is likely the premiere modern think tank in the United States, both due to its focus on the most critical issues (especially disadvantaged populations) and its rigorous empirical approach to answering the toughest questions facing public policy. With a particularly data-driven approach and a renewed focus on expanding its...

    Show More

    Cons

    Billable hours, but hey that's most of field, really.

    Urban Institute2019-01-07
  2. Helpful (2)

    "Fascinating work, great benefits,"

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

    I have been working at Urban Institute full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    At Urban you'll work alongside some incredibly smart people who are passionate about using rigorous evidence to advance solutions to social problems. There's a pretty good work life balance, excellent benefits, and a collegial/collaborative environment.

    Cons

    Academic nature of Urban staff and work can sometimes make it feel like insights are disconnected from the communities they are meant to help and there can be a negative view of policy-focused Urban work that is not "pure research". Also, nature of Urban's funding structure means constantly chasing grants/RFPs which can be stressful.

    Advice to Management

    Keep going with recent reforms to hiring, career advancement, benefits, staff and project management training, and workplace norms.

    Urban Institute2019-04-09
  3. "Overall good place to start"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Urban Institute full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Very serious about research and policy impact

    Cons

    Unclear career path for junior researchers

    Urban Institute2019-04-14
  4. Helpful (1)

    "Amazing place to work with some difficulties"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Researcher in Washington, DC

    I worked at Urban Institute full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Amazing place to work if you are interested in policy and like to be surrounded by amazing professionals, who are very driven and very capable

    Cons

    A lot of hard work that is not properly compensated

    Urban Institute2019-03-06
  5. Helpful (4)

    "Valuable stepping stone, unhealthy culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Research Assistant in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Urban Institute for more than a year

    Pros

    Urban is a great place to get a start in policy research and to learn hard research skills really quickly. It churns out grad school entrants to some of the best institutions when you enter at the RA level.

    Cons

    Because it operates like an old school academic institute, it's very hard to gain responsibility or trust of project leads without getting a Master's degree or PhD. Innovation is not valued and hard work isn't really rewarded since everyone is promoted and given raises on the exact same schedule. Also, the Institute has huge gaps in hiring diverse senior staff, which is a big problem for an org whose mission is to write...

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    Urban Institute2019-01-03
  6. "A mostly nice place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Urban Institute full-time

    Pros

    Good benefits, easy to coast if that's what you want to do

    Cons

    Gossippy, junior staff don't stay for very long

    Urban Institute2018-12-18
  7. "A VERY Oppressive Environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Urban Institute full-time

    Pros

    Learned many skills. Nice to have on your resume.

    Cons

    A very oppressive environment where the hardest workers are undervalued and underpaid, while the favorites are overpaid, pampered, and promoted. Many long-time staffers have left before I did, and more are leaving after me.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in leadership training courses on an annual basis.

    Urban Institute2018-10-19
  8. Helpful (1)

    "Excellent workplace"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Urban Institute full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    - Strong reputation - friendly environment - a lot to learn for juniors - diversity and inclusion - great benefits

    Cons

    - high turn over especially for junior staff

    Advice to Management

    - Keep on the current progress in innovation and strategic collaboration

    Urban Institute2018-06-07
  9. "Policy Analyst"

    StarStarStarStarStar
      Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
      Doesn't Recommend
      Positive Outlook
      Approves of CEO

      I worked at Urban Institute full-time

      Pros

      During my time at Urban, I was able to gain an incredible amount of knowledge rapidly. The organization is also placing emphasis on creating clear paths for career advancement.

      Cons

      You will report to multiple people for multiple projects due to the grant based nature of work. The quality of those to who you report to can vary greatly.

      Advice to Management

      The business model needs to be changed. Grant based work with strict charging requirements is especially detrimental to office moral as there is no flexibility for team building. Sarah has reinvigorated the organization, and their communications work is incredible!

      Urban Institute2018-06-19
    • Helpful (1)

      "Good stop on the way to grad school"

      StarStarStarStarStar
      • Work/Life Balance
      • Culture & Values
      • Career Opportunities
      • Compensation and Benefits
      • Senior Management
      Former Employee - Research Assistant in Washington, DC
      Doesn't Recommend
      Neutral Outlook
      Approves of CEO

      I worked at Urban Institute full-time for more than a year

      Pros

      Everyone there is very passionate about what they do. Great reputation and ample opportunity to build an impressive resume before leaving for graduate school (for junior staff).

      Cons

      Among junior staff, very low morale. Experience can vary considerably depending on who you work with. Little to no management training, good management is not valued. Experience also varies significantly by center, some leaders are more capable than others. Generally, very poor feedback mechanisms, and limited growth opportunity for junior staff.

      Advice to Management

      Management training for senior staff and more rigorous feedback and review processes for all staff.

      Urban Institute2018-06-13
    Found 61 reviews