Smithsonian Reviews in Washington, DC

Updated 22 October 2014
Updated 22 October 2014
93 Reviews
4.0
93 Reviews
Rating Trends

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

Review Highlights

Pros
  • It is quite an interesting place to work with behind the scenes understanding of what happens in the largest museum complex in the world (in 3 reviews)

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


Cons
  • Not much of a chance for full time position (in 5 reviews)

  • Unpaid position- no benefits other than the experience itself (in 4 reviews)

More Highlights

52 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Great experience!

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

    I worked at Smithsonian part-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very collegial work environment with extremely smart people. Work-life balance is fantastic. The agency values learning and diversity. Benefits are also good.

    Cons

    Takes a long time for things to change, though I think this is true of most government agencies. Pay is not as good as private companies, but still much better than most government agencies.

  2.  

    Fantastic but certain museums need better leadership

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian as an intern (more than an year)

    Pros

    Excellent resources, and some of the most knowledgeable and sharp scholars that exist.

    Cons

    A little too much red-tape and overkill with policies and procedures; I know it is intended to accurately spend donor and constituent money, but it ends up wasting enough full time employee time that it isn't worth it. Expedite processes!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Leadership, time management, and conflict resolution training should be a priority for those in charge of people. ("people" includes fellows and interns too!) Lack thereof reduces morale (Not in my position, but in the full-timers that I know)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    A little boring and a lot of old male academics...

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

    I have been working at Smithsonian as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    I was great to be able to go on tours of the collections and be around tons of intellectual powerhouses. Some of these people literally wrote the book on the discipline.

    Cons

    Being cooped up in an office on the top floors of the Natural History museum could get very isolating. It was also difficult to be around so many tenured members that were very much stuck in their ways of doing things. The average age of the department was over 60 and male which made it a very masculine, conservative environment to work in. Also, all the internships are unpaid.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It might have been nice for the interns to have more abilities to connect with other departments (or really for all the departments to work together more).

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5.  

    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 (less than an 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
  6.  

    Security is dangerously incompetent.

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

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

    Pros

    I suppose that it taking an act of god to get fired could be a pro. Maybe.

    Cons

    Years of poor hiring standards have resulted in Smithsonian's security division, "Office of Protection Services", being stuffed from the top down with people whose only work experience seems to be Smithsonian security. Most of the security managers are more concerned with keeping the staff happy than they are with actually ensuring the safety and security of the building. The organization is full of people being allowed to carry guns who have no business ever being allowed to touch one. There's no promotion potential unless you went to high school with someone in management.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There's no saving OPS. Burn it down and start from scratch.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7.  

    Contracting

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

    I worked at Smithsonian as a contractor (less than an 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.

  8.  

    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 (less than an 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.

  9.  

    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 (more than an 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
  10.  

    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
  11.  

    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 (less than an 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

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