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Working at Duke University — Reviews by Employees

Learn what employees have to say about Duke University pay, work/life balance, care potential, job security, and much more by reading our anonymous employee reviews.

Reviews of Jobs at Duke University

3.3Rating Details
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth3
Work Environment3

From Durham, North Carolina — 04/02/2009

Pay - I have to agree with the other folks who have commented here that Duke's salary is typically 15-20% less than peers for equivalent education and experience within professional staff positions. I can't speak to the faculty positions. For positions that don't require a great deal of education, skills or experience, Duke pays better than average. (They have instituted a minimum wage of $10/hr for full time employees.) Most positions don't have a bonus structure tied to them. The retirement matching contributions - 403(b)- are some of the most generous I've seen.

Respect - Working at Duke is fairly well respected among peer institutions and other employers. Within Duke respect is a mixed bag, although it is a core value of the institution. A few of the faculty members think a lot of themselves, but that seems fairly isolated. And there is a sense of job entitlement (tenure?) among some of the employee groups that fosters some resentment. (See co-worker competence.)

Benefits - Are generally excellent and comparable/ better than peer institutions. Plenty of vacation/ sick time. See the HR website for details.

Job security - You'd just about have to kill someone to get fired once you've finished the probationary period. Reduction in work force is handled through resignations, transfers, and hiring freezes. The down economy has the University looking at how to overcome the operating income shortfall. Perhaps this will result in lay-offs. The downside to the job security is how it affects co-worker competence.

Work/Life Balance - Generally good, but some departments work a lot harder than others. Whatever the department, highly competent employees are rewarded with more work (because they get things done) while less competent employees put in "40" and go home.

Career Potential/ Growth: Depends on where you are at. Some departments are relatively flat organizational structures with little room for advancement. Other areas have lots of growth potential for a hard-worker with the right education and experience. Education is prized over experience. Some folks get their positions because of their academic background, not their managerial/ administrative skills. There is also a tendency to bring in higher level management from peer institutions rather than promote competent people from within. It's easier in some departments to get ahead by leaving.

Location: Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh is a great place to live and work.

Co-worker competence: In almost every department there is some "dead wood." These employees liked the benefits and location so much and they didn't mind the lower pay enough to leave for greener pastures. The dead wood may start off as productive, but soon the truth dawns on them: The performance evaluation system doesn't reward the hard workers appreciably more than the average workers, so why work hard? ("40 and go." - Even if salaried.) If the job isn't getting done, the boss passes the work to the competent and motivated staff who haven't figured things out yet or have too much of a work ethic/ idealism to change. (The main reward for working hard is more work.) A similar situation is at work within the unionized areas as well. Hard-working newbies are greeted by wizened wood that eventually brings the performance of many to the lowest common denominator. "There really isn't 'pay for performance,' so why break your back?" The job security - a result of almost paranoid aversion to bad headlines and bad town/gown relations, diffuse and inconsistent implementation of HR policies, and poor supervisory/ management training - assures that the dead wood sticks around until they are either unwilling or unable to continue working.

Work environment - The campus is wonderful, but the other things can make working at Duke a roller coaster. Love/ hate. Love/ hate.
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3.4Rating Details
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth2
Work Environment3

From Durham NC — 06/06/2007

First off, this is a review of Duke Health System - not Duke University. They are two separate entities and have very different working environments. I work in IT, so I can't speak to the actual "healthcare" side of our business, such as nursing. I can speak to what it is like to support those folks.

Pay - Pay at Duke is not bad, especially considering they are a non-profit. You can't expect huge raises and there's no big profit sharing but overall I've found the pay to be pretty much average. The reason it gets a 3 is because you are basically guaranteed a raise every year, which is both a good and a bad thing.

Respect - neutral - depends on your boss.

Benefits - excellent! My paid time off is rarely beaten by other companies - the only ones that come close are other non-profits or academic institutions. Health care is so-so but they have a great 403b matching program. You can also get many discounts from area merchants because Duke is a "preferred" employer.

Job security - again, excellent. Both good and bad - you practically have to kill someone to get fired around here. However, this means that you will have many incompetent coworkers who should have been let go long ago. Instead, they get shuffled from dept to dept. However, you never really need to worry about being let go...even if your department downsizes, almost everyone is given a position elsewhere in the organization at equal or greater pay.

Work / Life balance - very good. This is highly dependent upon your boss but I've had very good experiences here.

Career potential/growth - not so great. Don't get me wrong - you can "climb the ladder" - but it can be difficult. Getting the right opportunities to demonstrate yourself is highly political, so if you don't like office politics, this isn't the place for you. However, if you don't mind that kind of environment, stay away from Duke.

Location - good. RTP is a nice place to live and the location is quite accessible.

Co-worker competence - not so great. There's a lot of "fat" here...people who just slack off because they know how to work the system. Either they don't know what they are doing, they know someone who got them a job, or they are just slacking off until retirement, it all adds up to a sometimes frustrating experience. There are a few shining stars but they usually don't stick around.

Work environment - neutral. I've seen some dungeons and I've seen some castles, depends on where you work since Duke is so big. However, all locations have basics such as decent networking, water cooler, clean restrooms, decent sized offices, etc.

To summarize, Duke is a good place to work especially if you are looking for a less stressful work environment (than corporate anyway) with ok salaries and lots of stability. It is great for someone supporting a family, given the amount of time off and other benefits. Politics can be extremely frustrating as can dealing with arrogant physicians or faculty. I would say it is great for someone in the middle of their career, looking for a place with a few opportunities but not a place where you are expected to work 80 hour weeks.
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