After 14 to 18 or more years of school, one might expect that students would be eager to get out of a learning environment. However, according to a recent survey, soon-to-graduate college students of the millennial generation highly rank potential employers that provide extensive training and continuing-education opportunities.
According to the Undergraduate Ideal Employer Ranking Survey conducted by Universum Communications, a employer-branding specialist that helps companies understand and develop their employer brand image and employer value proposition through research and consulting, the millennium generation’s career goals are to balance their personal and professional life (59 percent), pursue further education (46 percent), build a sound financial base (32 percent) and contribute to society (27 percent). For the study, Universum collected responses from more than 37,000 students from 207 schools in the United States.
According to the survey, the top 10 corporations millennials want to work for are Walt Disney, Google, the U.S. Department of State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, Microsoft, Apple Computer, Johnson & Johnson, BMW and Sony.
According Tracy Lynn Van Es, vice president of sales and research at Universum Communications, all the top companies this year have a strong reputation as being a valuable launching pad where students can gain experience through extensive training and at the same time work in a team of people who are knowledgeable, friendly and have strong ethical standards.
These factors might even outweigh cash flow. According to the survey, this year the financial strength of a company (26 percent) is no longer the most important characteristics of an ideal employer. Thirty-nine percent of millennials chose high ethical standards as the most significant factor when determining what company to work for.
This interest in companies that have a global social impact and solid values has never been as strong as it is amongst this year’s group of morally driven youngsters. On Universum’s 2005 Undergraduate Ideal Employer Ranking Survey, contribution to society as an important factor was nowhere to be seen, while working for a company with high ethical standards was only number 11 in the list of factors to consider when selecting a future employer.
According to Claudia Tattanelli, CEO of Universum Communications, these results are not surprising. “The millennials have been highly impacted by the political and global turmoil that has characterized the beginning of the new millennium,” Tattanelli stated. “With everything that has happened since 9/11, the war with its soldiers and its heroes — now more than ever embodied by charming actors in some of the most popular TV shows — they are very eager to make a difference on a global scale.”
Both business students and students overall ranked Walt Disney highly. The company had a comeback from 17th position last year to number one at both levels. Runners up in the business student rankings is PricewaterhouseCoopers (10.6 percent), followed Ernst & Young (9 percent), Google and Deloitte (7.8 percent).
This year Google leaped 150 positions to second place in the overall survey and won top ideal employer for 38.7 percent of IT students. For technical students, businesses offering a strong corporate culture, solid name brand and secure employment topped the ranks. After Google, Microsoft ranked number two (35 percent), followed by IBM (24.8 percent), Apple Computer and Intel (16 percent).
Engineering students gave Lockheed Martin Corp. the top ranking, followed by Boeing at number two and GE at number three.
Tattanelli said the correlation between employer branding and having a strong consumer brand is interesting. “Today, consumer branding’s efforts of big companies have a very strong impact on undergraduate students, who often associate a well-known product — seen on commercials following popular TV shows, cited in the news or represented on billboards and magazine ads — to an ideal place to work for,” Tattanelli stated.
In addition to employer preferences, the Universum Ideal Employer survey also asked students about their salary and benefit expectations, career goals, decision drivers and most-visited Web sites.
When asked how much they expect to make straight out of school, liberal arts majors said $39,237, while IT majors said $52,229. This year 84 percent of students said a strong health plan was a top priority, compared to 38 percent of students last year. Other important compensation elements are good retirement plans such as 401(k) or 403(b) (72 percent from last year’s 25.8 percent), followed by sick/personal and vacation day allowance.
The industries with the highest salary expectations are electronics, engineering consulting, chemical/petroleum, investment banking and venture capital, all in the $52,000s. Five years after graduation, venture capital and investment banking become the two industries that are expected to pay the most ($101,084 and $97,086).
Finally, Universum asked the Millennials how they learn about future employers. Monster.com (39 percent) and CareerBuilder.com (24 percent) are the top-visited Web sites, but they also find useful information in local newspapers (30 percent), school publications (27 percent) and university career fairs (73 percent).
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