I can remember it like it was yesterday. Junior year of high school, second week into classes, the mayhem of college counseling began. My school was incredibly academically competitive- as in one eight of my class went to Harvard and one third found another Ivy they “could live with.” Sitting in my academic advisors office, my mother and father heard for the first time the rankings.
After my father finally got all his laughter out his system about the concept ‘taking a gap year off before college to travel,’ my advisor got down to business, breaking down about where I, their daughter, would fit.
“You could go almost anywhere, you should apply everywhere you can but you have to create a list of reaches, maybe and safeties. This will help you be realistic about where you choose to go.”
Though said in a musty room in an old boarding school, those words have helped me in so many decisions later on in life. And this week, when a list of the top places young professionals wanted to work was released, it was those words that popped into my head again.
The US Professional Survey, conducted by employer branding firm, Universum looked at the top places that young professionals wanted to work for. The survey asked 10,000 young American professionals which companies they saw as the hottest place to work. The group, with a median age of 27, had some interesting selections.
The Top Ten Places Young Professionals Want to Work For?
3. The Walt Disney Company
4. The U.S. Department of State
8. Central Intelligence Agency
10. Teach for America
While there were certainly some companies that I expected (who doesn’t want to learn from Steve Jobs?), others on this list made me pause. NASA? Really people, the CIA? The minute my eyes glanced some of the picks, they started to roll. How can those truly be where most of us really see as the best place to work?
Universum pointed out that while the list ranks the employers, when it came to how they describe the ideal work conditions, young professionals wanted very different things. Most placed a high emphasis on life-work balance as well as being sure their job was secure. But additionally, most young Americans also valued an employer with a “good reputation” over one with good financials or ethical sense.
That said, there’s a disconnect there. It’s hard to imagine that people who saw working in national security and intelligence also valued having a balance between their personal and professional lives. But it’s not hard to see why people gravitated to the revered leaders in technology after making clear how much emphasis we put on the name of a place.
Some of the companies on the list reflect our feelings about the job market and recession- even Universum pointed out Teach For America as a zeitgeist-type example. But most people don’t seem to be looking for meaningful or practical options in their list of best places to work. We have our reaches, but do we also have our safeties?