Urban Institute Reviews | Glassdoor

Urban Institute Reviews

Updated September 17, 2017
47 reviews

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3.6
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Sarah Rosen Wartell
7 Ratings

47 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • This job will not eat your life; it is easy to maintain a good work/life balance (in 9 reviews)

  • Smart people - everyone gets their own office - easy to get the tools you need to do your job (in 6 reviews)

Cons
  • Centers don't offer professional development for admin staff, but allocate thousands for researchers (in 4 reviews)

  • Not so much career opportunities for admin personnel (in 2 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great first job"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    You can make it whatever you want it to be. Red tape should be no surprise, but overall supportive

    Cons

    Red tape is always going to be an issue!


  2. "Research Assistant"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Urban Institute full-time

    Pros

    Important research with passionate researchers; excellent research methods

    Cons

    Lack of adequate project management within centers

  3. "Assistant"

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

    I have been working at Urban Institute full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great location and great health benefits. Offers good professional development and education assistance.

    Cons

    Not clear upward mobility for business operations staff and often underappreciated in comparison to researchers. As of right now, the institute is not salary competitive.


  4. "Urban is a great place to work at"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Urban Institute full-time

    Pros

    Everyone is very supportive and cooperative at Urban

    Cons

    The technology and softwares they use is pretty outdated compared to the industry


  5. "Good place to work overall, a few project management qualms"

    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
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Great learning environment for junior staff. Opportunities to write and be published. Flexible 80 hour/two week pay period schedule. Ability to work on a variety of interesting topics.

    Cons

    Working simultaneously on half a dozen projects at most times, which can make it difficult to focus fully on any one at a given time. Billable hour structure is a pain to deal with.

    Advice to Management

    Could be beneficial to have staff assigned to fewer projects, but with faster turnarounds -- this would allow people to more fully throw themselves into each subject while still producing the same quantity of work.


  6. "Great Internship"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Recommends

    Pros

    I learned a great deal about criminal justice. My bosses were supportive and generous with their time. The office was a fun place to be.

    Cons

    Very hard and sedentary work.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Great company but has limits"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Urban has been an amazing place for my career to lead large projects with both senior leadership and key external partners. Both my boss and team are incredibly supportive and I feel my ideas are always on the table, even with our executives. Unfortunately, the career ladders are somewhat undefined (although the company is working on this) but there is no real career progression unless you create a new role for yourself or your boss leaves.

    Cons

    No clear career progression

    Advice to Management

    Pay your female employees the same as their male counterparts. We do research on income disparity, and shouldn't be a place that arbors it.

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Epitome of a research think tank for better and worse"

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

    I have been working at Urban Institute full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    -Work with very intelligent and really awesome people on issues that are relevant and compelling.
    -Every day I learn something new from my colleagues and my research - a great feeling.
    -Excellent work-life balance and very strong benefits package (good retirement, lots of PTO, professional development resources, etc.)
    -Relaxed office environment (including business casual work attire)
    -Horizontal cooperation, with opportunities to collaborate on projects and papers with both senior and junior colleagues.
    -Communications is does a good job at connecting researchers and their research with external audiences.

    Cons

    -Most supervisors are researchers without actual management skills meaning you should be comfortable managing your own career development and not getting frequent feedback on work performance.
    -Pace of research creation is slow and colleagues may agonize over seemingly unimportant questions and decisions.
    -Difficult to plan a career at Urban given the hierarchy, uncertain career ladder, and nature of the industry. To its credit, Urban is working to overcome these issues.
    -Some researchers are fiercely territorial over issues, topics, and localities that are in their "lane".
    -The office building and facilities are a joke, making it an unpleasant place to work and embarrassing when there are external guests. Luckily Urban is moving to new digs but not for a couple years still.

    Advice to Management

    Hard to balance the core research focus of Urban with the importance of good management but the later is really critical to the former, especially in order to attract, retain, and grow talented researchers. Significant deference is given to senior researchers who are experts in a given area but less attention appears to be given to the boring but important tasks of employee and project management.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Project Administrator"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Administrator in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Project Administrator in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Urban Institute (More than a year)

    Pros

    Flexibility, independence, and consistently learning new skills.

    Cons

    Chaotic work environment, no standardized policies and procedures, and no accountability.

    Advice to Management

    Make researchers accountable for working on proposals until the last minute and sending their administrative team last minute requests concerning their projects. If not, hire a project manager who can PROPERLY stay on top of your deliverables, milestones, invoicing, subcontract/grants, purchase orders, consultant agreements, and most importantly YOUR PROJECT SPENDING!


  10. Helpful (4)

    "If you work in anything other than research, good luck!"

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

    I worked at Urban Institute full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Flexibility in HR policies and decent benefits package.

    Cons

    The pay is poor for administrative staff, in comparison to researchers. There are no growth opportunities for admin staff. Centers don't offer professional development for admin staff, but allocate thousands for researchers. Management (center directors) often have no management skills and frequently treat administrative staff poorly; minimal accountability on the part of researchers to respect and follow admin policies and procedures; admin staff often devalued and treated as being disposable while researchers put on a pedestal; high turnover (people quit or were fired almost every other week); and hostile working conditions (some center directors are condescending, and because they have no management skills, they impose demanding and unrealistic work conditions on employees, especially on admin); and senior management doesn't hold center directors accountable for poor management of their staff.

    Advice to Management

    Screening should be done to see if center directors have the personality/ character traits and communication skills to be an effective leader. Place emphasis on compassionate leadership. Require management training for all new managers. Center directors should have some business/operations in their background so that they can actually understand, respect, and execute that function of their job.


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