Friday, August 27, 2010

Best Companies To Work For -- For Entry-level Intelligence Analysts! ( And Original Research)

Every year, Fortune Magazine posts a list of the 100 best companies to work for in the US. This is a very good list but it doesn't quite answer the question my students ask: "What is the best company to work for as an intel analyst?"

Thanks to one of our superb grad students, Nimalan Paul, we now have an answer!

Nimalan started with Fortune's list and made the initial assumption that, out of the 1000's of companies in the US, if you made the list at all you must be a pretty good place to work (Note: Nimalan used the list from 2006 as it was already available as a spreadsheet.  The vast majority of the companies from 2006 are still on the list today and since rank on the Fortune list did not matter in Nimalan's analysis, using the 2006 list seems acceptable).

From there, he thought long and hard about the criteria that would indicate that a company was good for entry level intel analysts.  He settled on  six factors:
  • How many intel analyst (or intel analyst equivalent) slots are currently open?
  • How many intel analysts appear to be employed by the company?
  • At what level are the analysts employed?
  • Is there a separate role for intel analysts within the company?
  • Is there an internship program for intel analysts?
  • Is there an executive level (C-level) position within the company responsible for intelligence?
He looked high and low for information on these six factors and compiled everything he found into the list you see below.  You can click on the second worksheet for his raw observations but he took it another step and actually scored each of the companies based on what he saw (you can see his scoring in the first or currently viewable worksheet).

The scoring is a bit subjective, of course (such that Nimalan indicated to me that the percentage scores are probably best interpreted as + or - 15% or so.  In other words, there is a real difference between a 60% and a 90% but probably not much actual difference between a 90% and a 95%).

Likewise, Nimalan was looking at companies that have intel positions in business exclusively.  He did not count contractual analyst positions provided by any of these companies to the US national security intelligence community.

Finally, we can't consider the list definitive.  Nimalan's ability to gather info on the companies was limited by time and access and we both acknowledge that there are likely some great places for analysts to work that didn't make it to Fortune's list.  If you know of any (and particularly if they are currently hiring...), please leave a note in the comments!

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James said...

Thanks Kristan. I like the concept of the research. Sorry to see my employer (SAS Institute) so low on the list. With a growing Fraud & Financial Crimes Practice perhaps we can improve our score with some future internship programs!

Kristan J. Wheaton said...


Thanks for the comment! It was an interesting project (and, frankly, it would not have happened if we had not had a grad student with Nimalan's skills...).

I certainly do hope that SAS opens up an internship program. It used to surprise me how well our students do in the various due diligence, terrorist financing and other financially focused investigative positions, but no more. Even though we don't focus on a business specific skill set, the tools we give our students must be useful in these environments as they all seem to do quite well.

If you do open up a program, please let me know as I am certain I would have some students eager to compete for those positions.


Andy Birch said...

Interesting study, but I think it is important to remember that the source data (Fortune's "Best Companies to Work For" list) is biased to begin with. Companies pay Fortune a fairly exorbitant amount (in the 6 figure range, some might say a fortune...ha ha) to even be considered.