What corporations look for in a university


The Wall Street Journal has come out with its list of Top 25 Recruiters’ Picks for colleges, as part of its large “Paths to Professions” feature.

By surveying corporate recruiters, it tried to find those schools most likely to land students jobs in solid professions that traditionally pay well and offer a bright future.

Although the University of Minnesota did not rank as an institution, several of its departments did:

  • Accounting (#4)

  • Engineering (#10)

  • Finance (#11)

  • Marketing/Advertising (#4)

So what were the rankings all about?

In a sense, they were about what universities knew — but also who they knew.

They measured, in a sense, a school’s ability to forge connections with high-powered corporations and, through various research projects and methods of collaboration, establish informal employee feeder program for its undergrads.

Consider the points the articles stressed:

  • Corporations looking for the biggest bang for their recruiting buck are focusing on fewer large schools instead of many smaller ones.
  • Those universities often have nearby (or strategically located) research institutions, and with faculty and students with whom they can form deep partnerships and research projects — a key factor. That gives students an “inside track” on internships and jobs. Recruiting graduates who live locally also eliminates relocation expenses.
  • The best public universities often produce the most prepared and well-rounded employees, people who fit well into their corporate cultures. In contrast, one Harvard economics professor said, “We have none of the basic bread-and-butter courses that serve you well in much of industry.”
  • Though Ivy Leaguers were indeed hired for a number of positions, they were known for often leaving the pipeline during the first year and returning to school for their doctorate. Public university grads, in contrast, exercised the practical skills to serve in the areas that held most of the jobs — such as operations managers, product developers, business analysts and engineers.

Some of that is reflected in the recruiters’ comments on the U, as posted by the Journal:

“We have had very good success with bringing graduates in from this school as part of our management trainee program. The individuals we have hired have a strong track record of success.”

“Diversity of majors, quality of programs/students and geographical proximity.”

“Corporate headquarter and strong business relationship.”

Ultimately, it seems to come down to this for the career-minded:

Steve Canale, head of General Electric Co.’s recruiting efforts, said it is critical for prospective students to ask which companies recruit on campus before deciding where to matriculate.