NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory "missions" Reviews | Glassdoor.co.in

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Employee Reviews about "missions"

Updated Nov 27, 2018

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4.3
87%
Recommend to a Friend
91%
Approve of CEO
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CEO Michael Watkins
Michael Watkins
118 Ratings
Pros
  • "A good work/life balance with a 9/80 schedule where you work 9 hours each work day and get every other Friday off(in 61 reviews)

  • "Great work environment, amazing mentors(in 42 reviews)

Cons
  • "Low pay for a software engineering internship(in 16 reviews)

  • "Projects/missions take a very long time to complete (3 to 5(in 14 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

Reviews about "missions"

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  1. Helpful (15)

    "Working for the Government Presents its Own Challenges"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Systems Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Interesting projects. Incredibly smart coworkers who are usually very willing to help get you up to speed. Current upheaval of the old guard is actually presenting some new opportunities to lay down the foundation for the lab for many years to come. Name-drop-ability is real. People's ears perk up when they hear JPL and NASA, and if you're the type that likes to work at a place a lot of people are interested in,... and flat out envy at times, JPL will do the trick. It's also a conversation starter when talking to recruiters, and most will be very interested in chatting with you to hear what you were up to at NASA. 9/80 work week is observed by most people on the lab, and yes that means every other Friday off. Unlike most engineering jobs, it's not a trick, either. People take it off and the lab basically shuts down every other week on Friday. I've had a few Fridays I felt like I would use the day to catch up, but that was my call and overall the lab tries to practice what it preaches and does honor a good work/life balance. Remote work is also available, and depending on your team could be encouraged, due to the parking issues the lab does have. Those are real... You'll see people complain about parking a lot on here, and it's a serious problem. When I can, I work from home, which helps greatly get work done and not have to worry about running all over campus, and especially not waste time hunting for a place to park in the morning.

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    Cons

    Work can move at glacial pace. Constantly fighting the old way of thinking, and there is a lot of push back toward anything new (whether it be a tool, a different way of working, or even a messaging app). Some missions are fully agile, with a slew of modern tools and technology, while others are using software and build practices that would have looked outdated in the late 90s. There is a constant bucking of new and... smart grads and younger techs against the old-been-there-forever engineers. Most employees are also on matrix based project schedules, and it is rare to be assigned to more than 25-33% on any one project. Most engineers are juggling three to four projects, each with unique requirements, tools, and processes. It's actually closer to working three to four completely separate jobs, and with the variance and meeting schedules it can really feel like all you're ever doing is running around from meeting to meeting. Not a lot of guidance if you want a structured role. Most folks are so busy bouncing from meeting to meeting, and doing their own time juggling, that they expect you to pick up the ball and run with it. Sometimes even getting basic requirements can be a challenge, and on one hand that's very liberating, but on another when you're dealing with limited time, it is costly to have to go back and forth on a bad design, or just a completely wrong direction, due to not understanding the scope or requirements for an assignment. Government work can be hard to stomach at times. Big shock, but, yes, things get political here. There are a lot of rules, a lot of cautions, and I've heard numerous times that, "If this is mishandled, you're going to prison," and it's not a joke. It can be stressful. Zero perks around the office, and it may sound petty, but those coming from private industry might be shocked to see there's no free coffee, no tea, not even water coolers. If you want to drink water, a few groups have started water clubs (no joke) where you pay a little money each month to have access to a water cooler. Same with coffee. Otherwise, you're huffing it to the cafeterias for water or Starbucks for an overpriced drink. Forget free meals. There are some parties once in a while on lab, but don't expect food, drinks, or anything really that you don't need to get work done. Likewise, trips, travel, conferences, and what have you, are all paid for by your projects, meaning you need to have at least three groups sign off on anything you do. As a taxpayer, I'm happy that spending is so closely monitored and controlled, but as an employee it can be a pain to simply do things that might better all of my projects as a whole. This isn't a place where you come and work for a group, and work on several projects while being paid by your Org. You're actually assigned projects and paid a fraction by each, so you really have to constantly work at keeping all your projects up, hunting for new projects when things are ramping down, and manage your relationships with people on lab to make sure you always have work to do. Group supervisors can help, but mine hasn't been very present in my day to day work, and half the time he's busy with his own tasks and can't really spend time with his reports. Great guy, but sort of a hands off and never present supervisor. Perhaps other people have a different experience there. Parking is a real problem. There aren't enough spaces. It's a gag around JPL. If you try to park after 9am all bets are off. If you dare leave at noon for lunch, you're screwed. People park illegally all over the lab. There are cars crammed next to cars, parked almost blocking roads, sometimes completely blocking lanes in the parking lots. I don't blame them. I've circled for an hour plus to find a spot before, and didn't. I ended up calling my teams and told them I was going home and working there. It's bad. It's really bad.

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    Advice to Management

    The matrix accounting system is hard to deal with for a lot of people. It's working, but it's barely working, and I can see more and more people getting stressed out of having six plus projects they're maintaining. Please keep an eye on that. If it isn't working, then getting people on more dedicated projects, even if it's 50/50 with certain missions, could make work so much better on the lab. Parking is... disastrous. I know there isn't much we can do about that, but it's really bad. Keep encourage remote work where it makes sense to cut down on the burden to employees that have to be onsite. You have a great workforce that wants to work, and if you could push more of them to at least 50% FLEX, that would probably save a lot of parking spaces on lab. IF you have a day full of WebEx meetings, do those at home.

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    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2018-11-28
  2. "Prove Yourself"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Spacecraft Mechanical in Los Angeles, CA
    Recommends

    I worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for less than a year

    Pros

    Everyone here is an expert at what they do. No shortage of cool projects

    Cons

    Work gets caught up in the sheer amount of people and bureaucracy of it all for larger missions. You have to prove that you are worth time to people due to the amount of work on everyone's plate.

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2018-10-26
  3. "Who doesn't love space?"

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

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    - Get to work on things that go to space - All of your friends/family think it's really awesome that you work at NASA

    Cons

    - Projects/missions take a very long time to complete (3 to 5+ years) - A lot of bureaucracy and oversight

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2018-09-04
  4. "Technologist's Thoughts"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Technologist V in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Varied work assignments... If you can dream it you can (maybe) do it!

    Cons

    Funding is very competitive for research that is not aligned with flight missions.

    Advice to Management

    Assign and fund mentors that can help younger staff in technology development

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2016-08-05
  5. Helpful (15)

    "No Career Advancement"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Member of Technical Staff in Pasadena, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for more than 5 years

    Pros

    JPL offers the allure of working on spacecraft, instruments, and science related to planetary exploration. A lot of talented, curious individuals work there in many different fields. There is an academic atmosphere and lectures are offered on many different topics by people from Caltech, NASA, and other companies. You can work on a variety of projects including flight software, hardware, research, formulation,... system engineering, mission operations etc. You can also write your own proposals, papers, studies, reports, and travel to conferences and other countries/centers. There is a high level of cooperation with other space agencies, public outreach, and educational priorities.

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    Cons

    Because JPL is a non-profit government subcontractor, they fundamentally lack the budgets to offer meaningful performance incentives. Wages are low and grow extremely slowly (2%/yr), benefits get pared back each year. This also means that advancement opportunities are not there for all the deserving people they have and get doled out to a select few based on closed-door meetings - often not the most talented but the... best-perceived. Heavily male-dominated management are former engineers, and have inadequate training in conflict resolution and personnel development. They rely on fear tactics to create uncertainty about the government funding to keep people from asking too many questions about their future. There is no guarantee of continued employment, even if you do good work, you might still be left scrambling to find your next project, even though management supposedly plans these things. They make a lot more than the engineers although there is no value-added to their work, it is still up to the people to apply for funding and keep themselves employed. You also have to constantly come up with new ideas for space missions to get funding from NASA, even though they often end up making arbitrary decisions to spread money to their other centers. Bureaucracy and too much oversight over budgets is a constant burden, as is the yearly scare at the fiscal year boundary (Sept. - Oct. ) when funding from the government often gets delayed due to threats of a shut down. Despite all this, JPL does manage to retain people for far too long with the promise of a family-friendly environment and a twisted sense of stability. If you decide there are no other options than to settle down in the Pasadena area, you can easily resign yourself to a career at JPL, where you are likely to stay employed on various things for decades, without ever attaining a real sense of being valued or appreciated. You will also end up working many unpaid hours for no reward. I have watched many people with Ph.D.s devote their life to JPL out of a sense of pride and commitment to engineering and science, only to end up feeling bitter and cynical about the politics. It promises exciting work, but simply cannot compete with private companies that are driven to invest in their employees for their own mutual financial benefit.

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    Advice to Management

    Increase transparency about what it takes to quality for raises and promotions, offer meaningful career development that is more than just an exercise, commit to diversity in line management and promote women to the highest ranks. Provide a "safety net" for people between projects so people don't have to use their vacation to cover a gap. Also, give training to cut down on abuse, including harassment of people... who are "vulnerable" - i.e. looking for work. I have been the victim of sexual harassment from multiple people on lab and been patronized and not given serious work, simply because people saw I was in need of work and I had "no choice" but to put up with it. Value, respect, and reward your employees, as opposed to exploiting them, or you will end up losing all the good ones who have the ability to earn more elsewhere.

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    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2016-06-08
  6. Helpful (3)

    "Recent PhD new hire"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer II in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    I have been working at JPL for about 6 months and everyone that I have worked with thus far has been incredibly enthusiastic about their work.

    Cons

    JPL's primary focus is on flight projects (such as the Mars rovers and other large scale NASA missions) and secondarily on technology, innovation and research. Coming in with a background in research (I just got my PhD), this was definitely a shift in mentality.

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2016-03-04
  7. Helpful (9)

    "Nepotism, Nepotism, Nepotism"

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

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    The pay and benefits are great. The "brand name" of JPL goes great on a resume. The facilities are great and reminiscent of a college.

    Cons

    Nepotism - you would think most people that work here are brilliant and come from MIT, Caltech, Stanford, UCLA, USC engineering... Unfortunately if you browse the company directory you'll start seeing a lot of CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Northridge, CSU LA, Pasadena City College as educational background. Not to bash those schools, but I thought JPL had the brightest minds. They don't seem to anymore, and every... third person here seems to get hired due to a family connection. The overall mission is awesome, but there are also a ton of dead end jobs that support those missions. There is no career development culture in place, it seems as if everyone is supposed to stay exactly where they are and do the same thing until they retire.

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    Advice to Management

    Cut out the culture of nepotism. Focus on developing your workforce: CFO asks CEO: What happens if we spend money training our people and then they leave? CEO: What happens if we don't and they stay?

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2016-02-26
  8. "Summer Internship"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Intern in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for less than a year

    Pros

    Everyone I worked with was so motivated and loved their jobs. The team that I worked with was very willing to help me out and I learned a lot in just a summer!

    Cons

    A lot of missions are contingent on funding, so it's disappointing to see some projects being cut back because of lack of funding.

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2015-10-22
  9. "A Great Place to Work!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
     
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    Pros

    I love it here !

    Cons

    I think they should get more space missions

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2013-04-17
  10. Helpful (5)

    "A Very Unique Place to Work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Electrical Engineer in La Canada Flintridge, CA
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    - Work/life balance is very good - Unique projects/missions that no other company has done or attempted - Unique blend of engineers and top scientists and PhD's in the world. - Good benefits overall (new employees earn 3 weeks + 1 day vacation and 12 sick days per year) - Great employer contributions to Key Staff retirement plan - Casual environment

    Cons

    Like most companies the size of JPL (5000+ employees), there are "companies within the company" which means that certain sections or divisions may be vastly different than others. As a result, it is difficult to provide a sweeping, all inclusive company wide con. However, here is my attempt: - JPL is struggling financially right now because although often successful, they have been labeled as too expensive for... many deep space or interplanetary missions. Consequently, they have been forced to compete for other types of contracts and have been failing because of their excessive cost. The days of receiving a blank check from NASA to send a rover to Mars (JPL's specialty that requires no competitive bidding) looks to be over or at least suspended for the next 8 years or so. - JPL has their share of common issues involving companies of this size - ineffective or apathetic group supervisors, too many levels of management on some projects, etc. However, nothing too far out of the ordinary and most of these cases are isolated rather than chronic.

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    Advice to Management

    Anonymous feedback from employees regarding their opinion about line management and/or project management should be solicited and reviewed to identify problematic supervisors or project managers. If 90% of the employees say the same thing about a particular manager or supervisor, then it's probably worth investigating. However, if you do not provide a means for the employee to voice their opinions without... retribution, how will you identify these troublespots in management?

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    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2012-10-16
Found 14 reviews