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Big Four lose popularity as prospective employers

May 13, 2011

The Big Four have dropped in the rankings of ideal employers for U.S. undergraduate students, according to the 2011 survey from employer branding company Universum.

Based on the responses of 61,726 students to the IDEAL Employers for Undergraduates, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers each fell two spots, and KPMG dropped three.

The survey found students to look for career options outside employers that traditionally recruit from a major. The FBI, Walt Disney Company and Nike all climbed in the rankings among engineering students while Lockheed Martin, Exxon Mobil and the U.S. Department of Energy lost popularity.

“While we’ve noticed the trend of this generation breaking the norm and thinking outside the box when it comes to choosing an employer, it’s never been more evident than in this year’s rankings,” said Roger Manfredsson, Universum’s global director of sales, in a statement.

The company tracked Facebook’s ranking at No. 12 among business students and the United Nations grabbing the 17th spot as interesting pairings of major and industry.

“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,” Manfredsson said. “This leads to a shift in the top employers among all students, regardless of their field of study. This is a global shift in the mindset of students; however it’s most evident here in the U.S.  It seems that U.S. students are spearheading this forward thinking and non-traditional approach to their career search,” he adds.

The 2011 rankings are (with the previous year’s rank in parentheses):

Top 10—Business:

1.  Google (1)

2.  Apple (8)

3.  Walt Disney Company (5)

4.  Ernst & Young (2)

5.  PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (3)

6.  Deloitte (4)

7.  J.P. Morgan (7)

8.  Nike (10)

9.  KPMG, LLP (6)

10.  Goldman Sachs (9)


Top 10—Engineering:

1.  NASA (1)

2.  Google (3)

3.  Boeing (4)

4.  Lockheed Martin Corp (2)

5.  Apple (10)

6.  Microsoft (6)

7.  General Electric (5)

8.  U.S. Department of Energy (7)

9.  Walt Disney Company (12)

10.  Intel (14)


Top 10—IT:

1.  Google (1)

2.  Microsoft (2)

3.  Apple (3)

4.  Facebook (new entry)

5.  IBM (4)

6.  Electronic Arts (8)

7.  Walt Disney Company (11)

8.  Amazon (19)

9.  Cisco Systems (5)

10.  NASA (10)


Top 10—Natural Sciences:

1.  National Institutes of Health (1)

2.  Mayo Clinic (2)

3.  American Cancer Society (4)

4.  Centers for Disease Control (3)

5.  Walt Disney Company (7)

6.  Peace Corps (5)

7.  Environmental Protection Agency (new entry)

8.  NASA (6)

9.  Google (8)

10.  FBI (9)


Top 10—Liberal Arts/Humanities/Education:

1.  Walt Disney Company (3)

2.  United Nations (new entry)

3.  Teach for America (1)

4.  U.S. Department of State (2)

5.  Google (4)

6.  Peace Corps (5)

7.  FBI (6)

8.  Apple (8)

9.  Central Intelligence Agency (7)

10.  Facebook (new entry)


The complete list of rankings is available here.


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