Where This Year’s Business Majors Most Want To Work

No other company is more coveted by business majors than tech Goliath Google, according to new research. Founded in 1998 by two Stanford University Ph.D. students, Google was listed as an attractive place to work by 23.37% of the 26,801 business students surveyed from last October through February. The survey, which included 359 universities in the United States, was conducted by global research and advisory firm Universum. Google has been the top pick for business majors each year since 2014 — the first year of Universum’s poll.

Following Google was Walt Disney Company, with 18.3% of respondents saying they want to work for the company. Rounding out the top five are Apple (14.11%), Nike (13.71%), and Amazon (10.43%), the latter of which snuck into the top five for the first time in the short history of the survey. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs came in sixth and seventh, respectively, in this year’s ranking. Of the top 15 companies, only five came from consulting or financial service industries. Another five came from tech, and the other five were made up of consumer products, government, and sports and entertainment.

While Google has been a mainstay at the top of the list, Apple only cracked the top five for the first time last year, just as Amazon did this year. Meanwhile, firms like Ernst and Young, PwC, KPMG, Goldman Sachs, and others have drifted out of the top five, suggesting a rise in tech interest and waning of consulting and finance among business majors.

Damian Zikakis, director of career services at Michigan Ross School of Business. Photo courtesy of Michigan Ross

OUTDOOR COMPANY PATAGONIA HAS ONLY 1,000 EMPLOYEES

“It’s pretty similar to what we see,” Damian Zikakis, the director of Career Services at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, says of the ranking. Zikakis confirms that eight of the top 15 Universum companies were top employers of Ross undergraduate business majors graduating in 2016. “Of the remaining ones, I’d say some are pretty popular and some aren’t as popular as what I thought,” he says.

The most surprising?

“Walt Disney surprised me. And I don’t know if it’s a carryover of these students watching a gazillion Disney movies as children,” Zikakis joked. In all seriousness, he says, Disney is a strong and prestigious entertainment company.

Likewise, organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which came in 10th; Major League Baseball, in 11th; and Patagonia, in 14th, were nontraditional companies that made the top 15. Zikakis says the FBI recruits on the Ross campus, while many undergraduates are interested in sports and entertainment, which could explain MLB and Disney being so high on the list. Ventura, California-based outdoor gear and clothing brand Patagonia also caught Zikakis off-guard.

“I don’t know if they hire many undergrads or not,” Zikakis says, noting the company’s popularity among Ross MBAs. “And it surprised me to see it on the list.”

UC-BERKELEY TAKES ADVANTAGE OF SILICON VALLEY PROXIMITY

At the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business, Susanna Zens says the results are “generally consistent” with where Haas undergrads work.

“Given our location and proximity to Silicon Valley, it makes sense that our students are interested in tech,” says Zens, who is a Haas-focused career counselor in the Cal Career Center. “Our alumni presence at some of these large tech companies also contributes to student interest and awareness of these organizations.”

The main difference Zens sees between Universum’s list and Haas students’ preferences is that financial services and consulting firms are generally more popular than consumer products and sports and entertainment companies.

NOT ALL TECH COMPANIES ARE VIEWED THE SAME

Indeed, there are some notable firms missing from the top 15. Morgan Stanley, for instance, came in 22nd on this year’s list. KPMG (25th), McKinsey (26th), and the Boston Consulting Group (29th) all just barely cracked the top 30. While companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Patagonia have consistently crept up the list, more established companies have experienced freefalls. Procter & Gamble, for example, was the seventh-most popular company in 2014. This year, it ranked 41st. KPMG has fallen from fourth to 25th during the same timeframe.

Still, not all tech companies have enjoyed popularity dominance like Google, Amazon, and Apple.

“My theory is, it’s not about tech as an industry, it’s about Google as a brand,” Zikakis says. “Google has such a strong brand.”

Another example is LinkedIn, which finished in 78th this year. Even though Microsoft and Facebook both made the top 15, fewer than 7% of the surveyed respondents indicated interest in wanting to work for the companies — much less than Google’s near 24%.

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