Smithsonian Reviews in Washington, DC

Updated 3 September, 2014
Updated 3 September, 2014
85 Reviews
4.0
85 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough
Wayne Clough
36 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Behind the scenes look at incredible collections that aren't on display (in 3 reviews)

  • Great benefits after two years of employment and committed people (in 4 reviews)


Cons
  • No possible full time for my position (in 4 reviews)

  • Unpaid position- no benefits other than the experience itself (in 3 reviews)

More Highlights

48 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    My experience interning at the natural history museum was good, extremely relaxed, and I had a lot of independence

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Smithsonian  in  Washington, DC (US)
    Former Employee - Smithsonian in Washington, DC (US)

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern for less than a year

    Pros

    Excellent managers, cutting-edge research, very relaxed workplace, people who tend to be good at what they do (at least in the research department) with a lot of creative staff. A lot of museum perks - roaming around, free imax tickets.

    Cons

    Pay is pretty low, there isn't much guidance - at least where I was working, but that can be good too. The office we were in was pretty terrible, and the internal network (in terms of data storage and access) is pretty difficult to deal with and very disorganized.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Contracting

    Former Employee - Contractor  in  Washington, DC (US)
    Former Employee - Contractor in Washington, DC (US)

    I worked at Smithsonian as a contractor for less than a year

    Pros

    The Smithsonian offered many opportunities for individuals to expand their horizons. Great program for interns, wonderful to be surrounded by such great minds.

    Cons

    Difficult to commute to the Mall during the summer, low pay, no oversight, must sign up as a business if you do any contract work for them.

  3.  

    Sounds fascinating, but ultimately, it's the government.

    Former Employee - Secretary  in  Washington, DC (US)
    Former Employee - Secretary in Washington, DC (US)

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    You can wander around the museum on your lunch break.

    Cons

    You're working for the government, in all its Kafka-esque, everything-in-triplicate craziness.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Oh well, better here than Asia.

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  5.  

    Government Red Tape

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Washington, DC (US)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC (US)

    I have been working at Smithsonian full-time

    Pros

    Incredible opportunities and resources, government benefits, and talented colleagues make the Smithsonian an appealing workplace. Plus you can't beat the name recognition on a resume.

    Cons

    There are forms upon forms to fill out, everything is heavy in procedure and red tape, and the institution moves slowly. Once someone is employed there it is impossible to get rid of them regardless of their competency.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Air Space Museum in Smithsonian

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Sales Associate  in  Chantilly, VA (US)
    Former Employee - Senior Sales Associate in Chantilly, VA (US)

    I worked at Smithsonian part-time for more than a year

    Pros

    I can't imagine why anyone would dislike this place. This was a great place to work- nice environment. There are some good people working at the museum, but these are the down-to-earth hourly oompa loompas that are trying to make a living at a minimum wage.

    Cons

    Favored employees get the benefit to continue to work there. Very slow raising the hourly rate.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Positive but monotonous

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Prospect Development  in  Washington, DC (US)
    Former Employee - Prospect Development in Washington, DC (US)

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern for less than a year

    Pros

    I worked there as a summer intern at the Office of Advancement. Great perks (free webinars, conferences, talks, networking event, unlimited access to Smithsonian museums (including rides, movies, butterfly walk-throughs that you normally must pay for)), great colleagues and a sense of unity within each office

    Cons

    Because it is such a large institution, the sense of unity isn't spread throughout. Each office is separate and most hire internally. Many internships lack any financial support.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    Not terrible, great internship opportunity but crippled by bureaucracy

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Special Events Intern  in  Washington, DC (US)
    Former Employee - Special Events Intern in Washington, DC (US)

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern for less than a year

    Pros

    Networking, resources, amazing curators and shows

    Cons

    Unpaid, bureaucracy, not a good way to get a foot in the door

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please do not gossip about former employees like mean high school girls. Highly unprofessional staff who constantly complain about being burned out AT work. Terrible role models and supervisors for interns.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    This is a wonderful work environment, in the world's largest museum and research center.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Administration  in  Arlington, VA (US)
    Current Employee - Research Administration in Arlington, VA (US)

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

    Pros

    So many smart people, so many fascinating projects. There is a wide diversity of activities, cultural and scientific, from the exhibits and education programs seen by the public to the research in the labs. Its just like "Bones".

    Cons

    More than half the budget is federal appropriation, so when congress shuts down, so do we. Units can be rather insular, difficult sometimes to cross boundaries.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Management has been good in recent years, no real complaint.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Fun, interesting place to work!

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

    I worked at Smithsonian as an intern for less than a year

    Pros

    Great workplace if you're passionate about the topics with which you're working.

    Cons

    You have to be flexible and ready to deal with deadlines set months or years in advance.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Worst employer ever; a new low

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Visitor Services  in  Washington, DC (US)
    Former Employee - Visitor Services in Washington, DC (US)

    I worked at Smithsonian full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    No pros in reality. I have nothing positive to say; except that I no longer work here.

    Cons

    Long hours in summer/ short or no hours in winter. Minimal pay.; no benefits until a certain number of hours is accrued ( and they make certain that that takes 3-4 years to occur) Incompetent , lazy,management; that treats employees with suspicion. HR is a joke. Little or no chance for promotion or job growth unless you meet the right "demographics" (under 30; preferably not a minority; or with a disability). Only bearable if you are a teen as a summer job that never makes it on your resume. You rarely even see an animal.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    They need to be more aware of allowing a better work-life balance since they do not offer decent compensation or benefits; Metro benefit would help immensely.Upper management should make department heads more accountable -many of them have been there too long and seem to skate by with minimal effort extended. They sorely need to overhaul their hiring practices- in the lower level jobs they have hired some (not all) of the most incompetent, lazy, rude, and plain mentally unstable people I have ever worked alongside. For any higher level position they need to actually open them to anyone qualified regardless of age, race or disability (as required by Federal law!). They would've been sued long ago; if employees didn't rather resign than bother.

    Doesn't Recommend

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