State, CIA, FBI rank high as ideal employer, college students say

Thursday - 5/24/2012, 9:44am EDT

Camille Kelly, vice president of employer branding, Universum

Download mp3

A survey of nearly 60,000 college students found some federal agencies rank high as ideal employers.

Among IT students, the FBI, NASA, the National Security Agency and the Defense Department ranked in the top 20. Among students who studied liberal arts or the humanities, the State Department ranked five and the Peace Corps ranked seven, with the Environmental Protection Agency, NSA and the National Institutes of Health in the top 20, according to the America's Ideal Employers 2012 survey by Universum.

Students are attracted to the job security and work-life balance associated with a federal job, said Camille Kelly, vice president of employer branding at Universum, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.

"The thing [students] kept talking about the most when they selected some of these agencies was the challenging work they would be able to work on with whatever agency they selected," Kelly said.

Across all categories, Google dominated the survey. The tech giant has positioned itself as a flexible, creative place to work, Kelly said.

Those are aspects of a job that agencies can capitalize on when they advertise job openings, she said. For example, some agencies offer condensed workweeks and the ability to work from home.

"There are a lot of those types of opportunities that really do appeal to this generation," Kelly said.

What's more, agencies can point to their public service missions.

Students know a federal job means "working on work that actually means something to them and has an impact, which has been very important for this group of students for what we've tracked for the past couple of years," she said. "But really, since 9/11, there has been a redirection of, 'How do I become a part of the solution,' and the government has always been an answer to that for a lot of students."