Top 10 Companies College Students Want to Work For

by Vault Education Editors | May 13, 2011

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When I think of Disney I think of the company that runs Disney World, the world’s cleanest carnival. But I am not an idealist. If I were an idealist, then I would probably think of Disney as the world’s most attractive employer, as a recent survey's results suggest.

A research firm surveyed some 60,000 college students and asked them to identify the traits of their dream employers, and to name five companies they would most like to work for. The survey also broke the students’ responses down into seven personality types: Careerists, entrepreneurs, explorers, harmonizers, hunters, idealists and leaders. From Businessweek:

Careerists are looking for a prestigious brand name and employers who recruit only the best and brightest; entrepreneurs want to work for fast-growing companies with a creative work environment; explorers are looking for challenging work and a variety of assignments; harmonizers are seeking work/life balance and secure employment; hunters are attracted by competitive base salaries and good prospects for future earnings; idealists are drawn to friendly work environments and high ethical standards; and leaders want leadership opportunities and mentors.

There are two standout trends from this year’s survey. One is that students are thinking about their careers more broadly than ever before. “Students are beginning to realize they can apply their skills in any company they choose, from accounting in the United Nations to HR in NASA. This leads to a shift in the top employers among all students, regardless of their field of study,” said the research firm's global sales director in a statement.

The second notable trend is the drop in desirability among The Big Four accounting firms and companies with questionable ethics.  

[T]he 2011 list of most attractive employers has its share of surprises. For starters, banks, oil companies, and the Big Four accounting firms lost some of their luster among business students. Lisa Sundström, global research manager of Universum in Philadelphia, says the role banks played in the financial crisis and the environmental and economic consequences of the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, may have played a role.

Just goes to show that students these days want to work for companies that align their goals and values with those of their employees.

The top 10 lists by personality type weren't available (see this nifty interactive graphic, though), but the lists for the 10 companies students find most attractive, arranged by area of study, were, so here they are.

Top 10—Business:
1.  Google
2.  Apple
3.  Walt Disney Company
4.  Ernst & Young
5.  PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP
6.  Deloitte
7.  J.P. Morgan
8.  Nike
9.  KPMG, LLP
10.  Goldman Sachs

Top 10—Engineering:
1.  NASA
2.  Google
3.  Boeing
4.  Lockheed Martin Corp
5.  Apple
6.  Microsoft
7.  General Electric
8.  U.S. Department of Energy
9.  Walt Disney Company
10.  Intel

Top 10—IT:
1.  Google
2.  Microsoft
3.  Apple
4.  Facebook
5.  IBM
6.  Electronic Arts
7.  Walt Disney Company
8.  Amazon
9.  Cisco Systems
10.  NASA

Top 10—Natural Sciences:
1.  National Institutes of Health
2.  Mayo Clinic
3.  American Cancer Society
4.  Centers for Disease Control
5.  Walt Disney Company
6.  Peace Corps
7.  Environmental Protection Agency
8.  NASA
9.  Google
10.  FBI

Top 10—Liberal Arts/Humanities/Education:
1.  Walt Disney Company
2.  United Nations
3.  Teach for America
4.  U.S. Department of State
5.  Google
6.  Peace Corps
7.  FBI
8.  Apple
9.  Central Intelligence Agency
10.  Facebook

[Businesweek]

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