Best Companies to Launch a Career

BusinessWeek inaugurates its "Best Places to Launch a Career" rankings for new college grads. The methodology is worth noting (as is the case with any rankings).

BusinessWeek created its list of top employers by surveying directors of college career services about "which employers were creating buzz on campus" and then analyzing data from 37,000 U.S. college students about which of those employers — selected by career services directors for "buzz" — made the students' top-five list.

Missing from that selection process were the opinions of recent college graduates about their actual experiences working for those employers (although the magazine did go and get positive blurbs from new employees at the companies that made the shortlist). So these rankings just measured buzz and hype among people who weren't working at these companies. Take that for what it's worth.

What do employers think about the current generation of college grads, according to BusinessWeek's sources? On the upside: you're efficient and good team players. On the downside, you're unable to think on your feet, solve problems on your own, or take leadership roles. You require "a lot of handholding," and you're prone to treat your boss like your friend and try to blurr that line inappropriately. Executives also point out that Gen Y's strong preference for teamwork doesn't serve employees as well as they move up the ranks into leadership and executive roles, which tend to require a "bold leap into the unknown" (and, I would add, where they lack the safety net of consensus-based decision-making and blame-distribution -- leadership is lonely).

One thing to take away from these responses is that the more you can defy employers' assumptions about the worst of these generational habits, the more you'll stand out from the competition.

Also noteworthy: these employers consider internships their most effective recruiting strategy, and that's one of the reasons I advise college students to start their post-graduation job searches long before senior year.