Oak Ridge National Laboratory Employee Reviews

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administrative assistant
administrative assistant/group secretary (Former Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNMay 12, 2013
ORNL is one of the leading companies in East Tennessee to work, and if you get hired, consider it a blessing. I was an administrative assistant for many different groups and divisions. I worked on (overall overview of all jobs I had) procedures, operating guidelines, set up interviews and passes for interviewees, processed paperwork for new positions, had P-card responsibilities, proofed conference proceedings, tracted staff hours on projects, processed visitor passes and foreign national passes and paperwork, set up meetings and managed schedules for managers/group leaders, received guests, set up major meetings, worked as a user assistant in the user office where I entered proposals in the system and tracted statistics for DOE reporting, used all ORNL internal systems: SAP, AVID, PAS, and oher major systems, coordinated summer students orientation, set up filing system for and duplicated historic drawings into an engineering database, managed two fellowship programs and tracted statistics, assisted with conferences, took and transcribed meeting minutes for staff, and general administrative responsibilities. There is a great gap between weekly (administrative) and salaried positions where salaried are allowed extra privileges because they are salaried whereas weekly people are 40 hours a week. Attitudes toward administrative staff ranges from great respect to apathy depending for whom you work. There is not much advancement for administrative staff unless they bid out on higher ranking jobs. Your compensation level is not always clearly explained and many times you are just  more... told you are a group secretary. Some divisions leave too much authority to division secretaries which can become very political and can damage lower ranking administrative staff's reputation with higher management and chances of any possible advancement. Many managers have no clue what their admins do and do not prepare professional yearly reviews. You more or less have to toot your own horn. However, training and educational assistance programs are great. Benefits are excellent and overall the atmosphere is good. Again, it really depends on who you work for, and like any company you will have positive and negative features. Overall, I loved the variety of nationalities I worked with and the staff at the Lab are great. Most folks are just plain folks and good people. Overall, I worked for and with wonderful people and had positive experiences. There are also great cafeterias at 3 different locations of the Lab, plus workout faciilities. Also the cafeteria organization provides excellent catering for meetings and retirement parties. Also, when I was there, the Medical Division was a great benefit especially if you were sick and couldn't see a doctor. Also, I thought it was wonderful that they provided a dietician and workout specialist for employees. Also, you can have confidential couseling if needed. ORNL is a wonderful company for young professionals in research, homeland security, computer science and engineering fields. I would recommend any young people pursing careers in these field to apply for internships with ORNL. If you are administrative and not wanting to move up the ladder or out of the admin field, it is not so lucrative. But the salary is excellent and as previously stated so are the benefits. I do miss working there, mainly I miss the wonderful people. Also, ORNL is improving their programs for administrative staff.  less
Pros
educational and training, great benefits and salary, good cafeterias and workout faciities, medical department and physicals provided plus immuzinations, very diversified personnel, great career opportunities for science, engineering and computer majors.
Cons
unclear administrative levels, lack of promotions for administrative staff, sometimes very heavy workload, salaried attitude toward administrative staff
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Wide range of systems and applications tasks
Research Staff/Group Leader/Computer Programmer (Former Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNAugust 2, 2013
Started my career writing accounting software to charge back software for computer resource usage of VMS machines. Later I was needed to write the same type of software for charge back of UNIX (ULTRIX) accounts.

Other Unix software included inactivity disconnect of interactive login processes and password updates. The password update system had to be able to update distributed accounts from DES encrypted data sent from an IBM mainframe. Data decryption had to be done in memory and never written to disk which required the software to be written in assembly.

When PC networks were added to IT, I was responsible for designing software to search the distributed mailing system of Banyan Vines for classified data that was inadvertently mailed on the network. This software would accept a regular expression and return parts of messages that satisfied the expression and allow the user to confirm that this was the data being searched for. The user would then instruct the clients to overwrite the confirmed messages with a bit pattern which would totally remove any trace of the data on all mail servers.

I also wrote an inactivity disconnect client for Banyan Vines.

The last two years of employment was developing UI and server software for the ARM project (Atmospheric Radiation Measurement). This entailed a UNIX daemon service which would retrieve files from robotic storage repository using UniTrieve and an X-Windows and Web CGI UI which allowed scientist to log-in and retrieve data from the repository.
Pros
wide variety of work and technologies
Cons
extremely political and a lot of deadwood to deal with
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Bring your own objectives
Post-doctoral Research Associate (Current Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNSeptember 10, 2015
This is a highly undirected research environment. There are no deadlines, very flexible hours, and no clear goals. Your only mission as a post-doc is to produce papers to make the lab a success and aid in the approval of future grants. You need to be someone who is very driven and motivated about your research. Otherwise 75% of post-docs end up leaving the lab after their two-year tenure.

If you are good at reaching out to others in an environment where almost everyone is flying solo, if you are good at writing papers, if you are good at driving yourself, if you can avoid getting stuck in a slow line of research, if explaining what you do at conferences excites you, if you need to be working at the highest-levels of understanding .. then this is the place for you.

On the other hand, if you want clearly defined goals, if you aren't interested in being stuck in a single line of research for years, if you want fast-pace, if you want to feel an immediate, broader impact to society, if you want job security .. then this place is not for you.

Also, it's a government lab. So the services can't be too bad and they also can't be too good. No one wants to see government employees getting free lunch or having google-style perks. It's definitely better resources and pay than a university post-doc though.
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AWESOME Group of People - Great workplace!
Administrative Assistant/Records (Former Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNJanuary 14, 2014
Total years with ORNL as both full-time/permanent and contract employee: 10+

A typical day at work is BUSY, but working with fantastic teams, learning something new almost every day (with really organized management teams and fantastic co-workers), not to mention great benefits, advancement opportunities and pay - one cannot go wrong with this company. If you desire to work with a company on the cutting edge, this is for you.

Hardest part of the job: properly and effectively categorizing and managing time and project deadlines

Most enjoyable part of the job: overall fantastic work teams in a multitude of departments, not just a few, good training, great equipment to do your job properly and management and coworkers who truly care about you and your career goals and are willing to help you achieve them.
Pros
great pay and benefits; intelligent people
Cons
commuting distance from almost anywhere - it's a drive
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Did a wide variety of administrative work
Secretary (Former Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNDecember 4, 2012
I arranged meetings and conference rooms for large groups, I scheduled the meetings using Outlook calendar. I also tracked the status of sub-contracts; maintained a database for a growing project using Excel; coordinating on-site and off-site conferences including travel arrangements, set-up and preparing of site, handling registration and fee collections and reconciling of the conference outlay. Preparing for a conference included compiling, assembling and disseminating material; arranged for guest and subcontractor badges. Other administrative duties included: travel arrangements (domestic and foreign trips), prepared documents for publishing, and entered them for approvals, edited Web pages. I prepared documents using internal system for contracts; ordering material using the AVID (on-line) System; the SAP System for budget information; and track subcontract milestones deadlines. I am proficient in the use of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook). I also prepared items for domestic and foreign shipping.
Pros
good benefits
Cons
not enough advancement
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Comment – December 10, 2012

Our Taxpayer money is wasted here. The lab has not come up with anything new, and is behind the times. Half of all the jobs could be elminated here.

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A great place to work!
Senior Secretary to Director (Former Employee) –  1 Bethel Valley Road, Oak Ridge, TNApril 10, 2014
Enjoyed a variety of tasks in positions held. Given opportunities to lead and received positive feedback and encouragement. Worked for a variety of organizations and was able to gain insight into the research and scientific as well as service organization sides of the company. My contacts were with external and internal customers and appreciated the challenge in providing extraordinary service to all. The most difficult part at times was maneuvering throughout the campus because of parking restrictions. But even this had a positive side because it provided needed exercise on days when I was tied to my desk.
Pros
great work environment, great co-workers, up-to-date computers and other office equipment.
Cons
campus located in remote area.
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Amazing atmosphere
Staff (Current Employee) –  SNSMarch 13, 2014
I realize every company has problems. The atmosphere here is truly mind numbing. If you like micromanagement, and you like to see your coworkers in mental pain because of the pressure, and you like to pass people in the hallway that do not look up, but appear as if the end of the world is coming, and you like to do an absurd amount of paperwork to complete anything, then you will like it at ORNL.

If not, please continue your job search.
Pros
rubbing shoulders with geniuses
Cons
too large a list to fit here.
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Productive work place where you always feel like a member of a winning team
OAS Associate Administrator (Former Employee) –  Knoxville, TennesseeJuly 7, 2015
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (or ORNL) was a fantastic place to work. Everyone supports and assists each other. While there are many people who work there, it feels like a very small group when it comes to getting the job done. Management supports their employees to the highest degree. I will very much miss working there.
Pros
The co-workers, management
Cons
The distance/drive
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ORNL Review
System Engineer (Current Employee) –  oak ridgeMarch 23, 2014
ORNL has a great work environment when you first start. Benefits are great, pay is decent, and the environment feels as if you are at a college campus. They have an onsite cafeteria that is overpriced but it is good to have when you don't want to make the 10-15 minute trip to get something outside of the lab. The day to day work environment really depends on your manager so you may have a different experience than what I have had.
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Loving what you do ... not just a job/position
Business Staff Associate (Former Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNOctober 22, 2013
I supported the Building America Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. A typical day at work included staff meetings, conference calls, and reviewing events for the upcoming weeks/months. My co-workers were exceptional. Team players. The most enjoyable part of my job was interacting with all of our team and seeing the results of our hard work.
Pros
flex time
Cons
micro managing professionals
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Cutting edge technology, success oriented, excellent work environment.
Senior Mechanical Engineering Technician (Former Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNSeptember 19, 2012
Work is challenging, there is opportunity for growth, advancement, daily learning. Never bored in my job, co-workers and managers are supportive and the work group is cohesive.
The hardest part of the job was leaving it. I truly loved my work and never minded going in. I felt I was doing important work and would go back today.
Pros
intellectual, professional co-workers and leaders.
Cons
lack of private sector research funding.
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Comment – November 14, 2012

lol

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ORNL Internship
Internship (Former Employee) –  Knoxville, TNAugust 20, 2015
I was busy on a daily basis and had plenty advisers and graduate mentors to monitor my work as well as give me advice. I learned plenty about additive manufacturing, specifically the intra-build effects on the mechanical properties of electron beam melting. I also, learned about porosity and how to operate machines like the SEM and archam. The most enjoyable part of the job was getting to learn to operate these machines as well as analyze the results of our research.
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Good Place to Work
Principal Investigator of CNMS proposal (Former Employee) –  CNMSJanuary 28, 2015
The people here are nice, and the equipment in the ORNL is almost the best all over the world. I love the lunch time, when people come together, have jokes and share their funny experiment of both work as well as daily life.
You have good opportunities to work with scientist from other universities, research institutes. I can Learn a lot from them.
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high quality environment for research and development
Postdoctoral Research Associate (Current Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNNovember 26, 2012
We worked and learned as a team. Refining experiment, reading research papers, writing articles, and discussing ideas are the things I spent most of the time on. The challenging part is to go through a detail thought process and develop your own ideas for solving the practical issue. ORNL has the state-of-the-art facilities and the great working environment for conducting the scientific research.
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Exciting, cutting edge technology - but kiss your personal life goodbye
Manufacturing R&D Engineer (Current Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNNovember 4, 2013
This is a great place to work if you are passionate about cutting edge technology. It is difficult, however, to have many outside-of-work interests as your job demands will most likely be very large.
Pros
good pay, and benefits. interesting projects to work on.
Cons
large demands on your time. job insecurity due to constantly seeking funding.
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Mind-blowing work with extremely interesting people.
Mechanical Designer (Current Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNJanuary 28, 2013
There is always something new to look forward to and sharing of information is encouraged. I have never dealt with a more open and inviting company. The things that are done at the lab are rarely rivaled in the world and most days it feels like working at the fictional "Eureka" from TV.
Pros
open environment, science everywhere!
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Great place to work
Senior Administrative Support (Former Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNSeptember 29, 2014
Made coffee
Took notes at meetings and typed them up for distribution
Checked email messages and responded
Interviewed others for secretarial position
Reviewed policy procedures
Answered phones
Prepared and faxed fax
Kept appointments for my supervisor
Liked working with co-workers
Had a good and fair boss
Pros
liked working there
Cons
distance from home
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Great place to work
Higher Education Research Experiences Intern (Former Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNDecember 22, 2015
Amazing experience with some of the smartest people in the world working along side you. If you are looking for an experience that makes you stand out here it is. This job really catapulted me into other positions that I currently hold and has not stopped benefiting me.
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Challenging environment
Database Administrator (Current Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNDecember 10, 2012
It is nice not to feel like you have to be the smartest person in the room. There is such a cross-section of the population here, there's always someone with a different set of experiences from whom you can learn.
Pros
intellectually stimulating
Cons
some people with higher degrees like to think that you must be a moron if you don't have one.
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Research oriented
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Intern (Former Employee) –  Oak Ridge, TNJune 21, 2013
The first thing I did every morning was take a few minutes to review the work completed the day before. Next, I would brainstorm with fellow interns concerning the workload for the day and proceed to perform my duties. The most enjoyable part of the job was the collaboration with my mentor.
Pros
the mentors
Cons
only for a summer internship
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Overall rating

4.4
Based on 70 reviews
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