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The ideal employers chosen by undergraduate students interested in the fashion, retail and apparel sectors.
Global employer branding firm Universum has released its annual poll of the companies students consider to be ideal employers. The survey found that 64 percent of students believed a work-life balance was the most important career goal, while job security, being dedicated to a cause, being intellectually challenged and becoming a leader rounded out the top five attributes. “These savvy undergrads are thinking much more strategically than ever,” said Claudia Tattanelli, chief executive of Universum. “They are researching companies, blogging about them, attending job fairs on campus. They ultimately want to work smarter, not harder.” And they want to be highly paid, too: Students interested in fashion, retail and apparel expect to bring in $45,850 one year after graduating, and $81,688 after five years.
1. WALT DISNEY
Amount of students interested in fashion, retail and apparel who chose this company as an ideal employer: 22.7 percent
“This is a very established, yet still extremely innovative company,” said Tattanelli. And it’s not just a few theme parks that make up this multibillion-dollar empire. Disney’s media operations include television (Disney Channel, ABC, ESPN), movies (Pixar), magazines (Wonder Time, Family Fun) and consumer products. The Burbank, Calif.-based company also has its Disney College Program, which provides students with semester-long paid internships. Disney also hosts presentations on college campuses across the U.S. One student told Universum, “Disney has international prestige and offers jobs to all people. The corporation is really fantastic; their management, innovation and creativity are unmatched.”
Younger consumers have become increasingly aware of the New York-based leather goods company and the products it has to offer, which is why students rate this brand so highly, Tattanelli pointed out. One student noted, “The Coach brand is exclusive, yet approachable. Its variety of styles and colors, clean silhouettes and practicality suits young and old alike. It’s a classic brand that creates innovative pieces that have a timeless appeal.” Tattanelli also added that for those interested in fashion, Coach is a stylish company whose products are still relatively affordable. “This is the all-American, great luxury brand — and a strong brand image is very important to these students,” she stated.
This story first appeared in the July 3, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It doesn’t matter that this Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine isn’t categorized as a retailer or a fashion brand: Students interested in any industry still desire to work here, Tattanelli noted. “If you look at their office space, it’s fashionable, creative and cool,” she said. “It’s maybe not in the ‘clothing’ terms, but definitely in its marketing, which is colorful, bright and present everywhere. Everyone knows this brand.” Google also has perks for its employees, such as company movie days, ski trips, free shuttle services for commuters, on-site doctor services, massage therapists, a car wash, gym and free fitness classes. “Google is recognized for their good work-life balance,” said one student. Another commented, “Google has a focus on innovation and smart business. They allow their workers to speak up for themselves.”
4. CALVIN KLEIN
“I believe that this brand’s advertising is speaking to these young people,” said Tattanelli. “Calvin Klein is really coming into its own once again, and the brand has a niche among youth.” This Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.-owned brand does reach younger consumers, and students interested in fashion are naturally interested in working at companies that speak directly to them, she pointed out. “I perceive Calvin Klein to be a successful company and a global corporation that can offer international exposure,” one student told Universum. Last year, the International Herald Tribune noted that even the brand’s fragrances were seducing the Millennials in the marketplace.
5. APPLE COMPUTER
If brand awareness carries a lot of weight with students, then it’s no surprise Apple ranks so highly, given the iPod, iPhone and Mac. The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer company’s Web site has a section devoted to new grads. “If you have limited or no on-the-job experience — but a sharp intellect, a top-notch educational background, and the energy to move the industry forward — Apple would like to talk to you,” stated the company. This past year, Apple participated in job fairs, one-on-one interviews, general information sessions and public forums on campuses across the U.S. and in Canada. “Apple provides a variety of innovative products to the market and has a recognizable public appeal,” said one student surveyed. Another told Universum, “Apple is innovative and cutting edge. They have a laid-back work environment but still get things done.”
L’Oréal’s Web site has a section titled “Meeting L’Oréal,” which provides information on internships, apprenticeships, meeting with students on campus and its entry management program. The company’s “Business Games” initiative speaks directly to undergraduate and M.B.A. students. Its “E-Strat Challenge” competition, for example, allows students in their final year of studies to put themselves in the role of a general manager in order to experience the challenge of running their own beauty company. “I have a pretty positive perception toward L’Oréal from all their commercials and products,” noted one student. Tattanelli also pointed out, “This company has a clear brand image, and its advertising campaigns are speaking to younger consumers.”
“From what I have seen myself, Target is heavy with its student recruiting efforts,” said Tattanelli. “The company works hard at spending time with people on campus, by hosting various events for them.” Target sponsors on-campus presentations, designed to help educate students about the company and its career opportunities. The retailer’s Web site also provides recent college graduates and students with information on internships within the company headquarters, distribution centers or retail stores. Students’ perceptions of the brand are impressive: “My perception of Target is positive due to their work with environmentalism and their ability to portray themselves as successful, innovative, and friendly,” commented one student.
“A few years ago, this company was on the top of our rankings,” stated Tattanelli. “Gap carried lots of brand image, lots of marketing campaigns, but the name has dropped lately, most likely due to its overall performance.” Currently, the company offers a wide range of training programs and opportunities for recent college graduates and those looking to gain valuable “real world” experience while still in school. Gap’s nine-month Retail Management Program, for example, offers participants exposure to principal areas of business through special projects and rotations in different departments. The Manager-in-Training Program provides training and development for graduates interested in store management.
“Nike has a good brand image and enjoyable products — they are also very competitive,” said one student. The $18.6-billion activewear company prides itself on diversity in the workplace, along with recruiting talent from countries around the world. “Our highly competitive internship programs provide candidates with the opportunity to gain the best hands-on experience in virtually every area within Nike,” stated the company. The Nike Adrenaline Internship program, for example, is a paid internship that runs for 10 weeks at company headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. Interns have access to the company’s world-class athletic facilities and they receive an employee discount, along with numerous other benefits.
10. LIMITED BRANDS
While this Columbus, Ohio-based retailer has shed its Limited and Express apparel stores, its Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works names remain among retailing’s top brands. And the company maintains a strong presence across campuses nationwide. “Limited Brands has an excellent marketing team and they have grown to be very successful in America,” said one student surveyed. Internships are offered to both undergraduate and graduate students during summer break. All internships offer project work and daily assignments, which range from one to four assignments and are presented to the brand’s executive leadership at the end of the summer program. Interns actively participate in team meetings that include senior executives.
Source: the universum ideal employer survey; over 43,000 students participated in the survey within the u.s.; students were asked to select up to five ideal employers out of a universe of 200 companies