Recently, Business Week announced the winners of their annual "Best Places to Launch a Career" survey, based on the opinions of students, Career Services directors, and employers. In order of popularity, here's the top ten list:

  1. Ernst & Young (Accounting)
  2. Deloitte & Touche (Accounting)
  3. Price Water House Coopers (Accounting)
  4. Goldman Sachs (Investment Banking)
  5. KPMG (Accounting)
  6. Marriott (Hospitality)
  7. Google (Internet)
  8. Lockheed Martin (Manufacturing)
  9. IBM (Technology)
  10. JP Morgan (Investment Banking)

If you are looking to join a formal training program with a multi-national company, the complete list of 50 organizations "to launch" is a great place to start, particularly as the survey provides details on what skills they are seeking (of the top ten, six companies said they were looking for a particular major), as well as starting salaries and information on the availability of management training programs.

When looking at the list, you should know that there are a couple of factors at play here:

  1. All of the organizations on this list have large on-campus recruiting programs (if they didn't, they wouldn't be listed here at all). The positions they recruit for on-campus are often based on their "core business;" they frequently recruit on an "as needed basis" for positions in other functional areas --from human resources to sales and marketing. For these position listings, monitor job boards, schedule informational interviews with alums in the field, and participate in professional association meetings in your field (a great source of potential contacts).
  2. A majority of these companies have a list of target schools at which they actively recruit, your chance of getting hired with one of these companies is greater if you attend one of these schools--and your skills, experience, and interests are aligned with the company's needs as well as the company's specifications. (As a majority of these companies receive many applications, GPA is often a screening factor.) If a company you are interested does not recruit on your campus, seek to grow your contacts at the company through networking and apply online. (Note: Over the years, I've had students get turned down through on-campus recruiting, meet other company representatives at non-school events and, ultimately, get hired!)
  3. Companies who recruit on-campus do so because they are able to anticipate hiring need well in advance and can recruit on-campus to fulfill those needs. If the company experiences a significant financial downturn or change in business strategy, the company can revise their hiring plans. (This doesn't happen often, but it is a possibility.)

Many companies (including the top ten listed here) have active on-campus recruiting programs, and spend significant resources in recruiting new hires. When employers attend career fairs and conduct presentations and interviews on campus, it easy to look at a company and think, "that's the only place for me." The truth of the matter is simple: it may feel like it at the time, but it isn't--you have a lot of options. The bottom-line: even at Ivy League schools, less than 30% of students will ultimately find their first positions through on-campus recruiting programs. This is true for a number of reasons--from supply and demand, to level of student interest.

While it's great to know what companies are said to be the best, what's most important is that you find the place that most suits you--where you are challenged and supported, and where you can further develop your skills while also meeting organizational needs. It may be on the best place of places to work in a national magazine, or it may just be the best place on your own "short list." I challenge you to find your best fit.

To your success!