Business Schools

They Love It Here, and Here, and Here


It's no surprise that the 16,529 U.S. business undergraduates surveyed for Universum Communication's 2006 "Ideal Undergraduate Employers" ranking place financial-services and accounting firms at the top of their list. But while these companies account for 50% of the undergraduate business students' top 10 (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs), this is a substantial drop from 2005, when 80% of the top picks were in these industries (see BW Online, 5/4/06, "Hello, Mickey").

Why the shift? This could at least partially be due to an estimated 14% uptick in entry-level hiring over last year and the increased freedom this allows students to explore different industries. Big brand-name destinations like Walt Disney, Google, Nike, and Apple Computer have catapulted into top positions, and the government has also flexed its muscle, with the FBI sliding into the No. 10 spot. (According to the study, B-schoolers are attracted both by government work in general and the "branding" of the FBI by TV shows such as 24 and Alias.)

The No. 1 overall pick for undergraduate business students is Walt Disney, praised for its internal mobility, rapid advancement possibilities, and social values. For more detailed information on why Disney and the other nine organizations in the top 10 have widespread student appeal, read the individual profiles below.

1. WALT DISNEY

Boston College graduate Arthur Dolan found himself in Disney's (DIS) production-assistant training program after looking for career ideas on Disney's Web site. He got into the program for seven months of paid, intensive training at ESPN, a Disney unit, and was hired after he completed the training. In just three years at ESPN, Dolan has been promoted four times, moving from production assistant to associate producer. He praises the way Disney rewards those who work hard, and is surprised at how far his career has gone in such a short time. Dolan is now looking at grad programs related to his job at ESPN because of Disney's tuition-reimbursement program.

Young job seekers like Dolan are looking to Disney, headquartered in Burbank, Calif., for more than just the free movie premieres. The media and entertainment giant has all the basic financial perks, like a respectable salary, 401(k), and stock options, that look good to today's young people. To boot, the company offers opportunities for learning, internal mobility, and advancement, and offices around the world. And employees praise its social values (see BW Online, 4/26/06, "A Liberal Take on Hiring").

Disney's draw starts with paid internships and training programs that offer a test drive of the company and a chance to build transferable skill sets before or after graduation. Disney recruits extensively in the fall and spring, both in the U.S. and abroad, and has built long-term relationships with many top schools. The company constantly needs new hires and Disney's departments reevaluate hiring needs and tailor their recruiting every year. "We look at candidates and then match them to possible positions in multiple business units," says Anne Ceruti, vice-president for talent acquisition.

Potential hires frequently get to choose a position, but the choices don't stop there. Once they start as full-time employees, they're challenged by training in their chosen unit but have the chance to check out other departments and positions later. Disney just launched an internal recruitment site similar to the search profiles used for outsiders applying for a job with the company. Employees can fill out a profile and name other positions within Disney's units that they find appealing. This kind of fluidity eliminates the kind of corporate-ladder structure than can be a turnoff for young, creative hires.

Disney employees also enjoy participating in efforts aimed at protecting the environment and reaching out to the community. In just one year at Disney, communications intern Aaron Hunt has used his communications skills while working on Disney's impressive internal network, a Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraiser, donations to hurricane victims, employee volunteer programs, and Spanish-language outreach, and is confident he'll be offered a permanent position soon. -- Kristin Dew

2. PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS

Bucknell University accounting major Lauren O'Connor will be starting her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the fall of 2006 and was sold on the company by its care and attention to its employees. After having dinner with recruiters, she was interviewed by a partner for an internship. What impressed her was how that same partner remembered every name and face of 15 full-time and internship interviewees weeks later.

O'Connor also appreciated the training Pricewaterhouse gave to its interns. The 10-day boot camp took place in Landsdown, Va., where interns trained together for eight hours a day. "I really liked the people, flexibility, and work-life balance they had," says O'Connor. "[The company] gives you a good basis for anything that you want to do in life."

PricewaterhouseCoopers, ranked 11th as the ideal employer for all undergrads and second for undergraduate business majors, is the world's largest professional-services firm, with 130,000 employees in 148 countries worldwide. Headquartered in New York, it employs more than 29,000 people in the U.S., with 80 offices. Business students can land jobs in everything from tax to advisory services for the world's largest and most prestigious companies. Led by Dennis Nally, Pricewaterhouse also provides specialized services to private companies.

Pricewaterhouse has major appeal to business students at top campuses. The firm runs a recruiting program across the nation, visiting schools with accredited accounting or business programs. Undergrads may also apply for positions by completing the online career profile available at the company's Web site. PwC seeks candidates who show the ability to work in a team, multitask, and get organized. Candidates come from accounting, finance, economics, engineering, and computer-science backgrounds, among others.

Interns become active members of a client-engagement team, serving diverse clients and developing strategies. They give financial analysis and tax advice to companies of all sizes and industries. Interns are well supported by PwC mentors as well as peer mentors. First-year associates are exposed to premier clients across different industries to help them learn businesses, develop relationships, and become specialized as they near manager level. These team workers may move around the firm over time. Associates are encouraged to take advantage of the coaching, mentoring, and experience of senior team members.

Pricewaterhouse is a favorite among recent graduates for many reasons. The firm employs diverse people with different goals, who enjoy development, value personal achievement and obligations, and want to feel respected and valued. The firm enhances work life by offering: (1) extended paid time off over select holidays; (2) Flexible Fridays over the summer; (3) flexible work; (4) tailored performance coaching, mentoring, and teaming; (5) partner-staff relationship programs; and more. Pricewaterhouse makes efforts to link staff and management to better connect workers to the firm and conducts studies to learn what makes people happy or unhappy with their work experience. (see BW Online, 5/15/06, "Never Too Late to Find the Right Job")

A competitive salary structure allows employees to live comfortably in the respective markets in which they reside. The firm provides raises, bonuses, and promotions based on merit. It also offers a generous benefits package including a 401(k) plan with company matching, choice of health plans, prescription plans, hearing/vision/dental coverage, and flexible spending accounts. Additional benefits include paid holidays; vacation; sick days; disability, life, and accident insurance; mortgage program; and discounts on various products and services. -- Janie Ho

3. ERNST & YOUNG

Ernst & Young employs 107,000 people in 140 countries. In the U.S., it has 25,000 employees in 95 locations. Employees are trained to pursue professionalism in its core areas of auditing, accounting, tax, and transactions. The firm also supports business positions in government relations, human resources, legal, marketing, office administration, and more.

The company welcomes applicants from all schools and recruits on campuses across the U.S. It focuses on accounting majors but also looks for business majors. Motivated individuals with integrity and honor who have solid communications skills are encouraged to apply. (see BW Online, 5/04/06, "Risks and Rewards at Ernst & Young")

Ernst & Young converts roughly 90% of their interns into full-time employees.

Lehigh University 2005 accounting graduate Jasmine Rieder was an intern before signing on as a full-timer. After one year at E&Y, Rieder recalls that what differentiated the company was its culture. As an intern, Rieder was impressed by a female partner who took her to dinner and talked about the company's willingness to help women stay successful while raising a family. "In return for my efforts, I like that they're willing to provide me with opportunities to grow personally and professionally within the firm," says Rieder.

What drew 2005 New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business graduate Scott Wood to E&Y was its overall friendly face on campus. Uncertain whether his studies would suffice in the real world, Wood was assured by representatives who emphasized Ernst & Young's commitment to helping employees grow. After one year at the company, Wood is also attracted to the summertime flex plan, which allows workers to condense work weeks and take three-day weekends. "It's almost like you have a summer, like you were still back in college," says Wood.

Ernst & Young says it believes that people who are fulfilled in every area of their life perform better and are happier. Creating an inclusive and flexible work environment for everyone is vital to the firm's overall strategy. One example is the Boomerang Program, which is aimed at luring back former workers who took lengthy breaks away from top positions. Twenty-five percent of new experienced hires at the manager level and above are "boomerangs."

E&Y tries to base salary on the value that each worker brings to the firm. They offer different awards in recognition of going "above and beyond." Benefits are a significant part of what the firm calls its "People First" culture. In 2005, Ernst & Young introduced new benefits including permanent four-day holiday weekends around Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Concierge service for all employees rolled out in early 2005 and helps carry the burden of everyday tasks. A service for Back-Up Child Care, as well as Adult Care, was also introduced to reduce the stress of juggling caregiving and career demands. Additional bereavement benefits were also offered to aid families during times of loss. Also, the company has generous parental leave benefits and policies. Traditional benefits such as health and dental insurance, 401(k) plan and pension, flex spending accounts, pretax commute programs, and tuition reimbursement are also offered. -- Ho

4. GOOGLE

Most Friday afternoons, Google (GOOG) employees worldwide can tune in for a Q&A with co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. "People ask anything from 'What is our specific direction in this area?' to 'Why has the soda [in the snack rooms] changed?' " says Stacy Sullivan, director of human resources and chief culture officer at the Internet search company's Mountain View (Calif.) headquarters. Google's focus on maintaining a "flat organization," where any employee can address company co-founders on a weekly basis, and its impressive perks have helped catapult the company up on Universum's list.

Google's top-10 ranking is even more impressive when considering the company didn't even crack the top 100 with the thousands of business undergrads surveyed by Universum in 2005. Why the big jump? In addition to its perks and meritocratic culture, Google is in tune with the increasing importance today's grads place on work-life balance (the No. 1 career goal listed on the Universum survey). The company provides an on-site doctor and dentist at headquarters and even allows employees to bring their dogs to work.

"Contributing to society" is another career goal that scores highly with students, and Sullivan notes that the Google culture is geared toward individuals who want to use innovation and creativity to make a tangible difference in the organization: "We're looking for people who are really thinking differently and out of the box, who want to do something that will have an impact on the world." Every Google employee is encouraged to spend 20% of his or her time developing a new project, a practice that has already resulted in such Google innovations as Google News, Gmail, Google Talk, Orkut, and Froogle. "Everyone is very approachable and open to discussing everything from design challenges to the latest bugs to just chatting about new ideas," says software engineer Trevor Hamilton, 23. "If you think something should be done or built, just start working on it."

In the increasingly competitive marketplace for youthful talent, Director of Staffing Programs Judy Gilbert says that Google can't afford to let recruiting success rest on a reputation for being innovative alone: "Frankly, one of our biggest issues at Google is how do we continue to attract the most talented people in the world and make this an engaging place for them to build their careers." On-campus recruiting that extends far beyond the typical informational sessions and career-fair booths is one technique that Google uses to grab students' attention: The company even enlists engineering undergrads at about 80 campuses across the country to serve as "pizza ambassadors" who provide stressed classmates with pizza on Google's dime.

Although students majoring in engineering and other technical fields are pivotal to Google's future success (see BW Online, 8/8/05, "Revenge of the Nerds -- Again"), liberal-arts and business students shouldn't feel they need not apply. Impressively tech-savvy grads aren't the only students that Google actively recruits, especially for its AdWord Representative positions, says Gilbert. "The AdWords area is one part of the business where we look for people who know their way around the computer as users, but don't necessarily have deep computer-science training." She lists creativity, solid writing skills, and well-rounded interests as especially desirable qualities in a new hire, and seeks out students who have done well academically, not only through posting a high GPA, but through challenging themselves with interesting, risky coursework. -- Lindsey Gerdes

5. DELOITTE

Deloitte has long been a hot choice for business-minded undergrads, and it looks like it's only getting hotter. The business-services giant ranked No. 5 among the most desirable places to work for business majors this year, and Deloitte's new Next Generation Initiatives look to improve work-life balance and the turnover rate by revamping career opportunities and culture, all while keeping young employees in mind. (see BW Online, 5/22/06, "Get 'Em While They're Young")

Associate positions at Deloitte, headquartered in New York, have been popular with business majors for years because of top pay and benefit offerings: Associates can expect a $40,000 to $50,000 salary, 401(k), comprehensive health plans, and about 25 days of paid vacation a year.

Next Generation started out in 2001 as internal demographic research aimed at adjusting to new generations entering the firm. Right now, 62% of employees outside of the top exec levels are under the age of 35. The program has helped launch Deloitte Career Connections, which improves internal career mobility by giving employees a chance to move laterally in the company and creates new career paths so not everyone has to be on the partner track.

Next Generation has also added new recognition programs that reward outstanding performance on the spot rather than waiting for an annual banquet, stepped up recruiting, improved internal communications, and given more flexibility to a workforce that demands the ability to work anywhere at any time. "Our expected outcome of these initiatives is a broader and deeper pool of talent at both the college- and experienced-hire levels," says W. Stanton Smith, director of Next Generation Initiatives. "Bright colleagues motivate others and make Deloitte a more attractive place to work."

Young hires can also look forward to an emphasis on learning and heavy exposure to business as a whole, not just in a functional area. Rachel Oster, a 22-year-old auditing hire who has worked at Deloitte in New York for just eight months, agrees that the Deloitte difference lies in learning opportunities and the caliber of her co-workers. She praises the amount of responsibility she's given and the healthy, manageable stress level that keeps her engrossed in her work. She frequently meets with her colleagues outside work, even if Deloitte isn't picking up the tab. "Everyone is friendly and easy to get along with," she says. "Everyone has a personal working style, but we've all got the same goal." Given the increased career opportunities in the firm and the new programs aimed at Gen Y, young hires can finally see Deloitte as more than just a steppingstone to something else. -- Dew

6. NIKE

It's not just about the shoes. Nike's (NKE) powerful blend of athletics, performance, and entertainment gives the company enough muscle to attract business veterans and recent graduates alike. "We've found that college students have a great emotional tie to the company," says Ben Elkin, university-relations manager for Nike. "For a lot of young people, athletics is what you're allowed to do after you're done with your homework. The notion that you can blend the two in the workplace is exciting." With tales of celebrity athletes roaming the Nike campus, interns jetting off to the Olympic Games, and the opportunity to design shoes for performing artists like Kanye West, it seems even the most jaded job seeker can muster some "Swoosh" enthusiasm. (see BW Online, 5/2/06, "In Siren Song of Swoosh")

It also helps that Nike is tops in the footwear industry, says Simidele Adeagbo, a product-line manager who began at Nike as a summer intern before graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2003. "I was attracted to being part of something that's the greatest at what it does," says Adeagbo. Lunchtime hip-hop dance classes and steep employee discounts aside, Nike offers its new employees world-class training in a surprising number of job functions, including marketing, IT, finance, design, and engineering.

The company's "hit the ground running" culture means that young staffers are granted the opportunity for strong lateral and upward mobility. "There isn't an incubation period. Nike doesn't wait for you to hit 28 years old in order to recognize you as a valid employee," says Elkin. "We're an initiative-taking company. If young employees exhibit certain skills, it doesn't matter how old you are, or how long you've been here, your ingenuity is rewarded." Although most employees get their start at Nike's Beaverton (Ore.) world headquarters, there are opportunities anywhere -- from European sales to running basketball programs in China.

Working for a multinational corporation means that Nike staffers are engaged in the company's ongoing discussions about corporate social responsibility. "If incoming employees can demonstrate that they think about issues like sustainability, they become a more attractive candidate," says Shannon Shoul, Nike's media-relations manager. "We love people who understand that intersection of being a really solid corporate citizen and doing good business."

As Nike searches for new ways to connect with athletes, high-octane talent is recruited to sustain the company's appetite for innovation. "Working at Nike is more than just being able to run or dance or swim," says Josie Seid, Nike's internship program manager. "It's the whole spirit of sport that ignites people. If you got it, bring it, let's play." -- Megan Tucker

7. MERRILL LYNCH

As the sun glistened off the World Financial Center's south tower on a recent spring evening in New York City, four young and fiery Merrill Lynch (MER) runners hoisted a trophy high above their heads. Having raced through the winding streets of lower Manhattan, the quartet won the corporate division of the 2.9-mile fundraising event for the American Heart Assn. Their company was well represented: Of 9,000 total runners and walkers, more than 4,000 were fellow Merrill employees.

The turnout suggests something of the firm's cohesiveness, which is turning many heads on college campuses. Ranked seventh by business students who participated in Universum's survey of most desirable employers, Merrill Lynch is known for its tough teamwork mentality. What's more, the company knows how to win. It grabbed the top spot among financial-services institutions in the survey (see BW Online, 5/8/06, "The Draft Picks Get Younger").

Poised proudly above the harbor where the choppy Hudson River teems with yachts, tugboats, and clippers, Merrill's two smooth-stone and tinted-glass towers form the headquarters of a global powerhouse built on relationships. With offices in virtually every corner of the world, the company must emphasize teamwork -- one of its five core principles -- to execute successfully its everyday operations with its clients. The people at Merrill are paramount -- and that's not just a line, says James Albertine, an analyst who joined the company two years ago because he liked the camaraderie at the bank. "Being able to turn around in the bullpen and crack jokes with friends helps you survive the challenges," he says. Flexible work arrangements, excellent health benefits, and a new on-site child-care center in New York also help Merrill show that its people are a priority.

Although the hours they put in can be long, Merrill's new hires have more than just their peers to keep them on a winning program. From their first day of training, they're building networks and fostering relationships that serve them throughout their careers. Recruiters say the company has at least eight professional networks, including a women's group and several diversity groups. And myriad opportunities exist to hone skills through a host of training courses known as Merrill Lynch University.

Not only are employees encouraged to participate in team-building exercises like the Wall Street Run and Heart Walk but they're also allotted four paid hours per month to volunteer in the community. For starters, Merrill coordinates educational initiatives for children with an A-list of partners, among them: Sesame Street, Harvard Business School, and the U.N. Says Eddy Bayardelle, Merrill's head of global philanthropy: "If you want to succeed in this company, you can't do it as a lone ranger. You have to be part of a team." It's a philosophy that's putting the newest hire on the same level as the oldest executive -- and forging a competitive force for today's business graduates. -- Bremen Leak

8. GOLDMAN SACHS

It's no secret that Goldman Sachs (GS) has traditionally been a go-to destination for driven young grads attracted to the polish and prestige of the 137-year-old firm and the opportunities for growth that this affords. But although Goldman's reputation and lucrative pay packages may draw undergrad business majors to the company, the firm acknowledges there's much more involved in retaining employees. "We tend to focus less on the name of the firm and more on what the firm has to offer," says co-head of U.S. campus recruiting Janet Raiffa, who cites "world-class benefits, ongoing training, and international mobility" as three of the top advantages of a career at Goldman.

Goldman remains supportive of employees who leave to pursue an MBA, even throwing them a reception to discuss future postgraduate opportunities. But she also acknowledges that the degree is not the necessity it once was. "Now we're seeing it become much more elastic in that people can stay and be promoted and make it to managing director without going to B-school."

Instead, the company focuses on providing ongoing education internally. Through Goldman Sachs University, employees worldwide participate in more than 2,000 programs on topics ranging from markets and products to professional skills. "If we recruit the best talent, we have to really maintain their skills in order for us as a firm to stay at the forefront," says Carol Pledger, the managing director of Goldman Sachs University.

This focus on education is hardly limited to entry-level analysts -- even managing directors and top-performing vice-presidents participate in a leadership-development program with clients -- but Goldman does reserve its most intensive training for its youthful new hires shortly after they join the firm. In mid-July almost 1,000 new analysts from around the globe descend on New York City for an intensive three-week orientation of training and networking events at Goldman headquarters. "One guy from my class who was a finance major at Penn said that the financial course at Goldman was harder and shorter," says Reed Macy, a Houston-based analyst in the private wealth management group, of his orientation experience two years ago.

A senior-level executive attends every orientation event. Macy says that he has been particularly impressed by the level of involvement by top brass at the Houston office. "You don't feel like a cog that can be inserted and removed," says Macy. "There's a lot of top management who come down and spend time with you."

Goldman says recent recruiting initiatives have included efforts to reach out to students in many different areas of study -- "These jobs aren't just for econ majors" -- and also engage them earlier in the process. Goldman holds an event for freshmen and sophomores called "Why Work on Wall Street," and like many financial-services companies, it views its summer analyst positions (usually reserved for students after their sophomore or junior years) as a prime recruiting tool. "It's much easier and more desirable to be able to see people in action," says Raiffa. "It's a 10-week interview."

Goldman also reaches out to the student population through diversity initiatives aimed specifically at high school students, undergraduates, and MBAs. (see BW Online, 5/11/06, "Jammin' Like Crazy at Goldman") The Goldman Sachs Foundation-sponsored "Global Leaders Program," a partnership with The Institute of International Education, brings together 100 promising second-year college students from almost 50 countries to undergo leadership preparation. The yearlong program includes an online curriculum of more than 30 courses, a weeklong educational conference in New York City, the possibility of grant money from the program's Social Entrepreneurship Fund, and an alumni resource center to keep former members connected to the program. Since 2002, 17 projects involving 22 participants from 12 countries have been selected to receive funding. Although this isn't necessarily a recruiting tactic, it is indicative of Goldman's global-minded approach. -- Gerdes

9. APPLE

Opportunities at Apple Computer (AAPL) expand far beyond technology-focused positions. Jobs for undergraduate business majors are available in sales, marketing, finance, and human resources. Based in Cupertino, Calif., Apple has more than 16,000 employees worldwide, led by CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.

It seems obvious why students want jobs at Apple. The company is becoming increasingly popular among young people not only for its computers but for its music-related gear. It's tough to walk onto any campus and not see students bopping to the sounds of an iPod or downloading music from iTunes in their rooms. (see BW Online, 5/24/06, "Apple and Nike, Running Mates")

But getting hired takes more than a love of great music and Apple's funky gear. This spring, recruiters visited some of the country's top B-schools, including the University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, the University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business, and Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. Sharp intellect, superb educational background, and the energy to move Apple forward are sought-after characteristics in new employees.

Within each division geared toward undergraduate business majors, there are plenty of options. In marketing, employees can focus on areas including marketing communications, research analysis, worldwide markets, and product marketing. Human resources hires can work in staffing, compensation, employee relations, or human resource management, among other topics. Treasury, tax, financial analysis and modeling, and financial systems all fall within the finance division. Various types of sales focus on channel, enterprise, and education.

Apple offers several benefits to its employees. The FlexBenefits Plan gives health (including prescription, dental, and vision) insurance. Short and long-term disability, long-term care insurance, and short-term counseling for employees and families are also available. Financially, Apple matches contributions up to 6% for a 401(k), depending on years working at Apple, and offers stock to its employees at 15% below market price. Some tuition reimbursement is also possible. Apple declined to provide starting salaries in various departments.

If your dream job is at Apple, sign up for an on-campus interview though the school career center or attend an information session on campus. And if you cannot land a job, you can always just buy a new iPod. -- Julie Gordon

10. FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has two categories of positions: special agents and professional staff members. Special agents are law enforcement and intelligence officers. Professional staffers support the agents -- mainly in counterterrorism efforts -- in various ways, including budget analysis, accounting, financial management, and clerical work. Each category of work gives employees top-secret security clearance, retirement plans, and other benefits, but the hiring processes and requirements differ greatly. Two separate groups recruit at FBI headquarters in Washington.

Special agent candidates must pass a medical and physical fitness test and attend the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. Some staffers must attend the academy but do not have to pass the tests. Special agent applicants must be between the ages of 23 and 37, with an average age of 30. There are no age requirements for professional staff.

The FBI weeds out many special agent candidates not deemed suitable to hire prior to the application process. Applicants can be disqualified for any of the following reasons -- conviction of felony, default of student loan, failure to register with the Selective Service System, use of illegal drugs, and failure of urinalysis drug test. Applicants must have refrained from illegal drug use excluding marijuana in the last 10 years and marijuana use in the last three years and in excess of 15 times. This year, the FBI is looking to hire 750 agents out of thousands of candidates, says recruiter Jim Knights. Five percent of all applications are successfully processed. Knights says that many people who apply are not qualified and to get an answer, you must ask.

The target for this fiscal year is to have 90% of new agents have a certain critical skill, including accounting, computer science, or other information technology specialties, or intelligence experience, says Knights. Expertise in these areas, some of which are related to business studies, are necessary for the FBI to perform its mission as best it can. Ten percent of hires can be from a diversified background and not possess one skill in particular.

If a student is interested in becoming a special agent, a certain major is not required; however, a chosen area of study should enhance research and analytical skills. (See BW Online, 4/26/06,“A Liberal Take on Hiring”) These are important, since special agents' goals include protecting the country from terrorist attacks, foreign intelligence operations and espionage, and cyber-based attacks and high technology crimes, and combating white-collar and significant violent crime. Work and academic experience differs depending on the applicant’s critical skill.

“It depends on their drive, their curiosity, and their ability to engage another person,” says Knights. Becoming a support staff member, also competitive, can be a smart way to get a foot in the door at the FBI and learn about various types of positions.

Once accepted as a special agent, new hires receive 18 weeks of intense training at the academy. More than 700 course hours focus on academics, firearms, physical training, defensive tactics, and practical exercise. Everyone must also pass a physical fitness test. Once they graduate, new special agents are assigned to a field office and put on a two-year probationary period. The starting salary for an agent is $43, 441 and ranges for professional staff. Employees get retirement plans, health and wellness services, paid leave, and subsidized health and life insurance.

The FBI is led by director Robert Mueller and has 30,000 employees. To learn more about the FBI, students can attend one of many career fairs this summer, listed on http://www.fbijobs.gov, or speak to a recruiting representative if one visits your school. Job applications should be submitted through the Web site.--Gordon


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