NEW YORK -- A survey of engineering grads focusing on their "most attractive employers" underscores the importance of global branding for multinational tech companies like Google and Apple.
The global survey by Stockholm-based Universum also broke out responses by country, thereby providing a glimpse into the state of national industries, economies, consumer culture and the mindset of engineering students about to enter a global industry.
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Letís dissect a list of the most attractive employers for 2012 as voted on by Chinese engineering students.
I was struck by the openness of Chinese students. While Chinaís state-owned companies such as China Mobile, State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), and PetroChina have a solid footing in the top 20 list, Chinese students are also eager to work for multinationals like Apple, Google, General Electric, Microsoft and Volkswagen. One could conclude that blandishments of capitalism are casting their spell.
Compare this with the survey results of German engineering students where largely ignored Google nor Apple as potential employers. In fact, not a single U.S. company appears on the German list.
The situation is similar for Japanese engineering students. While the survey found that Japanese students ranked Apple at No. 15, they overwhelmingly preferred to work for Japanese companies.
Does this reflect an insular attitude among German and Japanese students, or are they simply guided by an innate sense of "patriotism" that domestic companies are better than multinationals?
Such a facile analysis is tempting, but Iíd have to say no. The trend in Germany and Japan, I believe, reflects the state of industrial development in each country.
If your country has already produced such great companies and research institutes as Germany's Audi, BMW, Siemens along with the Franhofer or Max Planck institutes, naturally you'd want to stay close to home.
China, by contrast, still lacks homegrown, prestigious engineering institutions equivalent to those available in the United States or Germany. Hence, the desire to work for multinationals.