Wednesday, November 23, 2005
ROGER SNODGRASS, email@example.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
Employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory are pessimistic about future job-related issues, according to a recent survey by the Coalition for LANL Excellence, an ad hoc community organization.
A week before the anticipated announcement about the fate of the contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory, CLE members said their survey reflected a skeptical view by workers at all levels of the laboratory.
"There is a critical time from now to one year from now to influence how many people go out the door," said Joe Ladish of the coalition.
The study, developed by coalition members with professional consultation, was conducted between June and September. It maps a sample of employees' perceptions about the coming changes.
any others? I'd be curious to see the list. Colormegone, where did you go?
a large research center on the grounds of NASA/Ames. Yahoo is also
hiring. If you are good at Computer Science, AI, data-mining, etc.,
you can probably snatch an excellent job at either of these companies.
Google is consistently rated as one of the best corporations to work for
in America. They'll let researchers spend 20% of their time working on
anything they want as long as it might be useful to the company. The
level of bureaucracy at Google is also far, far less than what you would
experience at LANL.
If you have strong CS skills and are growing tired of the shenanigans
at Los Alamos, then go for it. I doubt the future for nuclear weapons
researchers will look very bright several more years down the road.
I started my own consulting company, and pretty much instantly had more work than I could handle, so I got a few other people on board. I will echo what good2go said: if you have marketable CS skills, there are lots of good places to work out there that don't have the overhead (both administrative and emotional) that exist at LANL.
To be fair, I really do think that the work environment at LANL will start to improve if the LM-led consortium wins the contract. The primary question would be, how much and how fast will it improve?
If, on the other hand, that other LLC wins, I would anticipate more of the same at LANL, only with less joy.
Postscript: one of my clients made me the proverbial offer that could not be refused, and so I didn't. I still work out of the house, but now I telecommute to a company location in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.
Don't think you can get hired at google just because you are good at CS. I know very smart people who have not made it through the interview process. Yeah, they're hiring like crazy, I see the 'new employee signup' lines are quite long. They still don't just take anyone, however. Their hiring pool is the world. So you have a pool that is somewhat larger than LANL is willing to look at. Google is not (yet) at the point of compromising quality for quantity.
And yes, like most of you, I've had offers, just not offers that have made me interested in leaving -- yet. Lotsa jobs out there, but not lotsa jobs that let me do the work I'm doing now. I've been able to do things here at LANL that I could have done few other places.
What I'm more interested in is this: we hear people are leaving. Where are they going? I think they're going to some pretty neat places. It would be interesting to have a headline on the web page, with a "where are they now" section. My list was a start.
Since the salary report just came out in the papers, I also expect to see people complaining about how much more LANL employees earn than NM average. Guess what, folks -- in most cases, when they leave, it's for a bigger paycheck! Good people can leave LANL any time they want, and earn more to boot. In fact, good people can make a phone call and have a new job in 15 minutes, in many cases. Note to New Mexico: these are not people you want to chase out of state!
As both you and Ron point out, if someone excels in their field, job offers will come. They will leave if, and when, they are ready.
On the other hand, LANL has a very large number of both TSM and non-TSM staff making very good salaries who are not among the "best and the brightest". Where is this group going to go? My guess is nowhere, until they are forced to do so.
If LM/UT wins, I think they are going to find the data interesting when they start going through employee salary/position and educational background. Especially if, as was proudly stated by some Sandia employees to me years ago, a bachelors degree is the minimum entry requirement for many support positions.