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Think Big

These five companies hire more engineers than anyone else

By Mike Mosser

When applying for jobs after graduation, it might be helpful to think big, as in applying to one of the five largest engineering companies in the world. These companies, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Motors, Boeing and Motorola, hire more engineers than any others. And they are constantly on the lookout for new recruits, in good economic times and in bad.

But don’t let their size scare you. Applying to such massive companies offers many rewards, one of the most important of which is the improved odds of actually being offered a job. Because of the range of services these companies offer, there will always be needs to fill.

Working for them can be beneficial for your career, too. If you were an engineer at, for example, Raytheon, the chances for higher advancement in the company are far greater than they would be at a company even half its size. Smaller companies simply can’t offer the potential for advancement that larger companies can.

In addition, because large companies offer such a wide array of products and services, they hire a wide-range of applicants. Whether it’s research and design you’re after, mechanics and testing, or some other engineering discipline, companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing offer it in abundance.

But remember, these are name-brand companies that are used to seeing the best and brightest applicants, so don’t think for a second that you won’t face competition.

The Boeing Company

Headquarters: Chicago, but the overwhelming majority of their engineers remain in Seattle.

What They Do: The company’s focus is centered on aerospace, electrical and mechanical engineering, with some civil and software engineering as well. In addition to constructing commercial passenger planes as if they were giant Legos, Boeing builds helicopters, military aircraft, satellites, missiles and the Delta launch vehicle.

How Many They Hire: Boeing hires around 2,000 engineers annually to add to its engineering band of 25,000. The company lists a whopping 198,000 employees worldwide.

Who They Want: “At the college level, we interview basically for behavioral skills. Teamwork is a top priority for us. We want to make sure that the students we hire have good team skills and the behavioral attributes that are going to fit in with us,” says Steve Myers, Boeing engineering recruiting manager for the Seattle area. “Hopefully, we’re able to communicate to them what our culture is like so they can make an informed decision about working for us.”

Boeing says an advantage to working for them is the chance to work on several different projects. “If you’re in a particular discipline over the course of a Boeing career, then you’ve got all sorts of different products and avenues to move around within the company,” says Anne Gose, Boeing’s public relations manager. “And you can stay in one geographic location or move around to different locations and still be part of the Boeing company”

The Perks: To help keep their employees in tip-top health, Boeing runs more than 25 health and fitness centers across the United States. Each is open 24 hours a day for Boeing staff, their spouses and retirees. The company’s recreation program also supports 300 clubs and special interest groups at various Boeing locations for activities such as softball, scuba diving and amateur radio.

Other company benefits include medical coverage, tuition reimbursement, an employee incentive program and a retirement plan. The incentive program (for non-union employees) provides for a predetermined number of days’ pay if the company’s profit targets are met for that year. Gose says the company will reimburse full tuition for employees pursuing academic degrees at an accredited college, university or trade school, with up to $150 per course for books and software.

Best Way to Find Out More: The company’s Web site offers your best source for job leads. At www.boeing.com/employment, interested candidates can search the Boeing job database, submit an online resume and look at available summer internships for college students. And if you need a break from job hunting, click on “Cool Stuff,” and you can view the Boeing 717-200’s first flight, download a Boeing screen saver (complete with an artist’s rendering of the future international space station) or browse the company’s immense image gallery.

General Motors Corporation

Headquarters: Detroit

What They Do: The name pretty much says it all. GM is the world’s number one automotive manufacturer.

How Many They Hire: While GM doesn’t release the actual number of positions it plans to fill annually (it considers such information proprietary), engineers will comprise about 60% of the company’s new employees this year, according to Priscilla King, director of talent acquisition. And, she adds, 80% of the positions filled this year will be technical in nature. Design News Magazine put GM’s engineering work force at about 30,000.

Who They Want: The company focuses on those who display success in their academic career but also have initiative and the ability to learn and apply their coursework to the real world. A good way for applicants to get their foot in the door is through a summer internship or co-op. King says these serve as the first pool the company draws from when hiring new graduates.

When considering an applicant, the company looks at grades, the on-campus interview, the willingness and ability to learn new things, technical competence, organizational and analytical skills, plus an applicant’s interest and excitement about the GM product.

“We offer a very engaging culture and environment for individuals to grow in. Because of our size, we have a variety of assignments that are very challenging,” says King. “So the plus of coming to GM is that you don’t have to change companies to get career growth.” According to King, an added GM benefit is that when you feel it’s time to try a new assignment, you can most likely stay in the same place. “We have a volume of opportunity, so that your career can go off in many different paths and you can still remain here and capitalize on the knowledge that you’ve gained being at GM,” King says.

The Perks: Want a new car? GM employees receive a discount on GM new vehicle purchases, varying from 5% to 15% depending on the type of vehicle. GM also provides tuition assistance, health insurance and a stock savings program. The employee invests a percentage of their salary and the company matches up to 60% for every $1 that’s put in, up to 10% of the employee’s income. Vacation time may vary from one to two weeks, depending on when the employee starts work.

Best Way to Find Out More: GM’s Web site, www.gm.com offers information about careers by position, location, function and date posted. In addition to job listings, this site also offers a personal career assessment questionnaire comprised of 90 questions designed to help you self-evaluate your qualifications.

Lockheed Martin Corporation

Headquarters: Bethesda, Md.

What They Do: In addition to the responsibility of making things that fly and zoom into space, the company also focuses on global telecommunications, air traffic management, missile control systems, postal handling, and naval guidance and navigation. In fact, Lockheed Martin’s tasks are so wide-ranging it even processed the paperwork for the most recent national census.

How Many They Hire: With a work force of 130,000 (65,000 of whom are engineers), Lockheed Martin is an engineering titan. The company hopes to hire 2,000 entry-level engineering candidates this year alone.

Who They Want: Hugh Burns, director of public relations for Lockheed Martin, says the company primarily hires graduates from computer and software engineering programs, systems engineers, and aeronautical and aerospace engineers. It also picks applicants from the fields of fluids, fluid dynamics and chemical engineering.

“We’re looking for people who are well-rounded and are looking to work on projects that require systems integration,” he says. “But we’re also looking for people who can bring their training quickly to bear on problems that we have, rather than have to be exposed to a long training process in-house.” Burns also cites the ability to work as a team as a necessary ingredient at Lockheed Martin.

The size and flexibility of the company mean that employees need a wide range of knowledge and experiences, too. “We write more lines of code than Microsoft. We’ve made most of the things that have gone up into space. We build airplanes that go faster and longer than any other aircraft company in the world,” Burns says. “We have companies that are involved in aviation, space, science, technical science, service business, missiles, satellites; we have a variety of companies doing maybe 30 different lines of business. When you come into Lockheed Martin, you’re not necessarily pigeonholed into one particular line of business.”

The Perks: If, for example, an employee in aerospace decides they want to advance further in the company but doesn’t have the skills to do it, the company offers in-house training and tuition assistance. Additional training is allowed in a specific area or toward a master’s degree or Ph.D. Tuition reimbursement is in-full for up to two courses per term, including textbooks, lab fees and computer fees.

Lockheed Martin also offers medical benefits and a 401(k) plan with the company matching the first 8% of an employee’s contribution. Vacation time starts at two weeks the first year.

Best Way to Find Out More: Lockheed has 939 facilities in 457 cities and 45 states throughout the United States, as well as business sites in 56 nations and territories, so location shouldn’t be a problem. To find out about the many careers available at Lockheed, go to www.lockheedmartin.com and click on “careers.” There you’ll be able to search their database by city or foreign country and for college, co-op, summer intern, and, of course, full-time employment. This link also has information on college recruiting and offers you the opportunity to submit your resume online.

Motorola Inc.

Headquarters: Schaumburg, Ill.

What They Do: Motorola is best known for its pagers and cell phones, but the company is also involved in producing semiconductors, integrated electronics and broadband communications.

How Many They Hire: Motorola lists 121,000 employees, but declined to provide details on job classifications, although Design News Magazine put the figure at 25,000 engineers.

Who They Want: The application process begins via the company’s recruitment Web site at www.motorolacareers.com. The firm hires engineers in the electrical, mechanical, manufacturing and software disciplines.

Jennifer Weyrauch, Motorola spokesperson, says the company takes a broad view in screening applicants. “We look at the total package of the candidate. We look to see if they have internship experience that is relevant to their discipline, [if they participated in] extracurricular activities, and if they held any leadership roles,” she says. “We look at grades. We take into consideration those students who had to finance their education. We look at the courses they have taken, review their areas of interest, their geographical preference. And we also look at their soft skills such as communicating, being a team player, taking initiative, and analyzing information and prblems.”

The Perks: The company operates free on-site fitness centers at 14 Motorola facilities. Those without access to one of those centers may receive reimbursement of up to $240 annually for a non-Motorola facility. The company also boasts being “the largest employer provider of worksite childcare options in the world,” offering access to 11 on or near-site childcare centers, with backup care available for unexpected childcare needs at a cost of $15 per day. Expectant parents can also receive free prenatal education, and a toll-free hotline that offers the advice of trained nurses.

The health plan is top-notch, too, providing a no-deductible medical insurance plan. The company also provides a 401(k) profit-sharing plan. Employees can contribute up to 20% of their salary, with the company matching 4.5% for the first 6% of the employee’s contribution. There is also a potential for year-end profit-sharing contributions. Eligible employees can also purchase Motorola stock at a 15% discount through after-tax payroll deductions.

Best Way to Find Out More: As mentioned earlier, Motorola’s Web site at www.motorolacareers.com is the first place to start your job search with this giant. But if you want more information than what you find on this site (and this site has plenty, including all of the usual job search links, plus information about diversity, company culture and intern/co-op opportunities), click on “Ask a Motorolan,” complete and submit the form, and an expert at the company will get back to you—who said big companies don’t care?

Raytheon Company

Headquarters: Lexington, Mass.

What They Do: Another defense and electronics giant, Raytheon builds air traffic control systems and sensors for radar and aircraft, and manufactures business jets and special mission aircraft.

How Many They Hire: Raytheon will hire 7,000 engineers this year and many of those will be new college graduates. This may seem like a lot until you stop to consider that the company already has 92,000 employees worldwide, approximately 30,000 of whom are engineers.

Who They Want: For many applicants, one of the biggest factors is where they went to school. “Raytheon’s primary concern is [an applicant’s] technical training. They need to come from schools with strong reputations for good people with solid foundations,” says Amy Hosmer, a Raytheon spokesperson. And, she says, students need to be in the top quarter of their class. “We look for the best and brightest but also recognize that there are dimensions other than grades that determine success.” The company views participation in extracurricular activities as an important trait, because it involves the ability to communicate and work with others.

“If someone is interested in coming to work for Raytheon, they would have a challenging and rewarding career working with diverse technologies,” Hosmer says. “We have world-class engineering and scientific talent. We provide an environment of challenging and interesting work, and we recognize and reward our engineers for their outstanding contributions to the company and the defense electronics industry.”

The Perks: The company offers medical benefits and tuition reimbursement. Flextime is also an option, depending on location and job duties. Through its 401(k) plan, Raytheon matches the first 4% of an employee’s contribution with an equal value of company stock. Paid time off is offered starting at three weeks.

Best Way to Find Out More: Raytheon does much of its hiring through college placement offices and job fairs, but applicants can also check out the company’s recruitment page at www.rayjobs.com.

Mike Mosser is a free-lance writer based in Chicago, Ill.

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