Center for Strategic and International Studies

  csis.org
  csis.org

Center for Strategic and International Studies Reviews

Updated 23 October 2014
Updated 23 October 2014
52 Reviews
3.7
52 Reviews
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Center for Strategic and International Studies President John Hamre
John Hamre
40 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Great opportunities to meet scholars and politicians from across the world (in 3 reviews)

  • Very interesting work and collegial atmosphere with engaging co-workers (in 4 reviews)


Cons
  • The internship is unpaid, though they do give (in 3 reviews)

  • Management cares very little about junior staff and despite seeming like a great place for (in 4 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Amazing people, great think tank

    • 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 Center for Strategic and International Studies as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    - Great people, extremely intelligent and focused, but also fun
    - Good work-life balance
    - Access to Senior Fellows who took your comments seriously and valued your input in meetings
    - Ability to propose research projects

    Cons

    - Depending the chair you work for, the team can either be extremely academic and uptight or much more relaxed
    - Very focused on events, which, while important, can sometimes replace actual research
    - Limited opportunities to advance

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Great think tank that can open up the world of Washington to junior staff

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

    I worked at Center for Strategic and International Studies full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Get to work on projects of consequence
    Access to world-class scholars, government officials, etc.
    Smart and dedicated co-workers
    Good camaraderie among junior staff
    Ability to work across programs if one demonstrates proper knowledge and interest

    Cons

    Junior staff hit a ceiling from which they usually cannot be promoted

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Intern and then Research Assistant at CSIS

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

    I worked at Center for Strategic and International Studies full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Very prominent and well-resected organization in DC.
    Great opportunities to meet scholars and politicians from across the world.
    Potential to work closely with prominent scholars and have a hand in their work.

    Cons

    A great deal of the experience is completely dependent upon which program you are in, since each program is its own little fiefdom. If you intern or work for a great director/fellow, than you will have a great experience. Otherwise, your experience may vary.
    Doesn't pay particularly well, even when compared to similar positions elsewhere.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Potentially develop some kind of infrastructure internally for employees to grow, since CSIS's employment structure (like that of most think tanks, unfortunately), is shaped like an hour glass. A lot at both the top and bottom, but very little chance to grow internally.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Poor Management, No Growth Opportunities

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Assistant
    Current Employee - Research Assistant

    I have been working at Center for Strategic and International Studies full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Easy hours (9-5), good exposure to range of issues and events. Can get your name on reports which looks good for graduate school.

    Cons

    Very poor salary. No opportunities for personal growth unless you work in HR or operations, even then very limited. Management cares very little about junior staff and despite seeming like a great place for junior staff in terms of having debate clinics, leadership training, etc. very little of this actually translates into real opportunities. I felt very undervalued despite being a hard worker.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest more in junior staff. They are smart, bright and capable people. Give them more growth opportunities instead of paying so heavily for senior staffers who do so little.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    Grants good experience in the international affairs and policy sector

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Center for Strategic and International Studies

    Pros

    Friendly atmosphere, good work-life balance

    Cons

    Lack of projects in certain terms

  7.  

    Had a good experience here.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Center for Strategic and International Studies as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Have a lot of chances to meet important people. Good environment. Work/Life balance. Everyone is very friendly. Learn a lot and have many chances to talk to different program and department.

    Cons

    It is not a perfect place for long-term career development. There is a high turnover rate. Every week I can receive farewell emails. A lot of employees choose to go to another organization or company or seek for a high degree.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    Great organization overall, but YMMV depending on your program

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Center for Strategic and International Studies full-time

    Pros

    Hard-working, fast-moving environment that attracts very qualified, capable people. CSIS produces top quality research, attracts amazing speakers, and has real influence in the policy community. Depending on your program, junior/mid-level staff can have a significant amount of research, writing and management responsibility.

    Cons

    Many programs have to work hard to make budget every year, so the financial stress level can be high depending on your program. The operations departments are relatively small, so sometimes it can be difficult to get answers to administrative questions and there is not as much opportunity for collaborative work with different program areas as there could be.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Great place to work, especially for young people

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

    I worked at Center for Strategic and International Studies full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Work directly with leading experts in your field
    Many opportunities to network and interact with colleagues at other think tanks and in government
    Fairly good young development programs
    Lots of room for advancement if you look for it
    Really smart coworkers

    Cons

    Mid-level salaries
    Lots of turnover with changing administrations

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Great Think Tank

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

    I worked at Center for Strategic and International Studies as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    There are a ton of interns who work here, and, depending on the department, you can get a lot of experience working at a foreign policy think tank. There are lots of opportunities to attend policy lectures.

    Cons

    It's a very academic place and so it's not a very relaxed environment. There's definitely a clear hierarchy at CSIS, but as you work your way up, I'm sure, it becomes more exciting.

  11.  

    In a bottom up org, it depends on who you work for

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Assistant
    Current Employee - Research Assistant

    I have been working at Center for Strategic and International Studies full-time

    Pros

    Depending on who you work for...
    You have the opportunity to do a lot of substantive research, and interact with people at a very senior level. Your ability to influence the actual product definitely depends on who you work for, and what kind of boss they are. Similarly, content is driven by what you get funded for. Being part of the CSIS community means a lot of open doors, both inside the institution (everyone is pretty friendly and willing to sit down for a chat) and outside (given the institution's reputation).

    Cons

    Regardless of who you work for, all junior staff work incredibly hard for not a lot of money (pretty common in DC, and especially in non-profits). The actual environment, though, depends greatly on who you work for, since most of the programs are pretty self-sustaining. The funding model at CSIS means that there isn't really any metric of effectiveness/measure of success/basis of accountability other than raising your own money; this means that the quality of management, the work/life balance, and other things are greatly dependent on your boss and often unsupported.
    There is no training-- just a "buddy system"-- which means you learn most of it through trial and error. It is not a very collaborative work environment, particularly between programs, and can feel isolating.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    - institute a professional development program that junior staff actually feel like they can attend (i.e. don't feel pressure to be working rather than learning and growing)
    - require mandatory 360 degree reviews
    - create a more viable path for junior staff to grow in the organization

    No opinion of CEO

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