Pros: I spent many years at two very large, well-respected government consulting firms before coming to MITRE. Several of MITRE’s positive attributes below are noted in stark contrast to my experiences at other firms. (1) Work-Life Balance – I’ve never felt pressure to work more than 40 hours per week at MITRE. People are unplugged during nights and weekends. It’s a great place to work if you have a family. At other firms, limiting your hours like this would hurt your career. I receive 21 days of paid time off plus all of the standard holidays and can actually use all of my vacation if I choose. MITRE also allows employees to cash out up to 40 hours of paid time off each year. At other firms, I wasn’t able to use all of my vacation due to work demands and lost a lot of it due to accrual limits. (2) 401k Matching – After your first year, MITRE will match your 401k contributions amounting to an additional 10% (or slightly more) to your pay if you contribute enough. (3) Culture – Overall, MITRE has a laid-back atmosphere, where people have a lot of autonomy and are usually engrossed in their research and project work. My coworkers are smart and polite. I’ve found almost everyone at MITRE to be collaborative and supportive, sharing their knowledge freely as they love to educate others and openly discuss new ideas. Other firms were cutthroat and people were much more protective because ideas and credit were frequently stolen. Our culture is more like that of academia where intellectual theft is a very serious offense. The pace is a bit slower here than at other firms, with fewer demands to pull you in multiple directions simultaneously. Given the types of sponsor work that many of us do this is a great thing, as this environment allows time to think and be creative. (4) Project Work – MITRE rarely performs “butts in seats” work. We’re usually helping the government at the beginning of a long journey, positioning ourselves to shape the government’s direction and implement prototype solutions. The work I’m doing at MITRE has been more interesting than what was typically available at other firms. There are also many interesting research projects underway. MITRE holds back 5% of its revenue in a research fund that is allocated yearly based on a competitive proposal process. (5) Benefits – The Aetna PPO health plan is great. Unfortunately, my family had the need to use it multiple times this year for expensive care across several specialties, so I would know. The educational benefit is much higher than at other firms, as MITRE will cover a significant portion of your graduate-level education. (6) Office Space – I have an assigned office to myself. Worst case, MITRE staff share an assigned office with one other coworker. Other firms had facilities that were less pleasant after having moved to open-office spaces or office hoteling while reserving assigned offices for upper-level management. (7) Stable Environment – Not that many people I know have left MITRE in the past few years. I believe attrition is in the low single-digits. The last firm I worked at was losing staff at 15-20% per year and although that rate was higher than desired it was well-known that high attrition was part of their business model.
Cons: There is lots of talk of change within MITRE, although I feel that staff performing sponsor work would be hard-pressed to notice anything different day-to-day. However, the talk of change from MITRE’s leadership continues nonetheless and it’s stirring the pot as you can see from many recent Glassdoor reviews. Leadership has not articulated many specifics on what these changes might mean to the staff, so the rumor mill is running at full speed. I don’t believe that the new strategies being described by MITRE leadership are going to have a significant impact on MITRE’s technical staff (which includes almost all of MITRE). Although, leadership did push down an ill-advised hiring push in 2018 that created a mess, leaving many people including existing employees “on the bench” scrapping for work over many months. Hopefully that won’t be repeated.