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Tesla’s World Changing Mission Attracts Top Talent

Tesla and SpaceX took prominent positions as two of the most desirable companies to work for in a recent poll of engineering graduates. Tesla ranked #5 in the list of all companies for university graduates, across all disciplines. Experience has shown that companies with world changing missions attract the very top talent. This is a major reason why, in the long run, positive change makers like Tesla always succeed, whilst legacy laggards like polluting fossil companies, which fail to lead, will ultimately fail to survive.

Tesla Roadster and Semi / Tesla. Image courtesy: Tesla

A major survey conducted by Universum of 10,860 US engineering students, from 218 universities, found that Space X and Tesla are the most attractive employers. For engineering students, the overall top five organizations, in order of rank, are:

1. SpaceX
2. Tesla
3. Google
4. Boeing

Other automakers come much further down the list:

16. Ford
19. GM
20. BMW Group
24. Rolls Royce
31. Toyota
42. Honda
56. Daimler/Mercedes-Benz
71. Nissan
97. VW Group

Tesla even featured very high in the choices of students from all other disciplines. For example, Tesla is very attractive to computer science students (5,175 students surveyed):

1. Google
2. Microsoft
3. Apple
4. Amazon
5. Facebook
6. Tesla
7. SpaceX
8. Spotify
9. Nintendo
10. Netflix

Again, for these students, although Uber and Lyft appeared further down in the top 50 list, all other automakers were “also rans”, and much less attractive:

36. Uber
44. Lyft
61. BMW Group
77. Rolls-Royce
90. Toyota
92. Ford Motor Company

Tesla was much more attractive than all the legacy auto automakers for business students (17,429 surveyed):

12. Tesla
54. BMW Group
93. Toyota
99. Ford Motor Company
100. Daimler/Mercedes-Benz

NIH BuildingAn aerial view of the new clinical center, National Institutes of Health / (NIH)

Even for students of the natural sciences (9,229 surveyed), Tesla took the 16th spot overall. The top 5 for these students were, encouragingly:

1. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
2. Mayo Clinic
3. Doctors without Borders
4. Centers for Disease Control
5. American Cancer Society

16. Tesla
97. BMW Group

Finally, even for humanities and liberal arts students (10,544 surveyed), Tesla took a much higher spot than any other automaker:

1. United Nations (UN)
2. Google
3. The Walt Disney Company
4. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
5. National Geographic

23. Tesla
50. SpaceX
78. BMW Group

United Nations BuildingThe United Nations Building in New York City. Image credit: Steve Cadman [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons 

Across all student groups combined, by my own quick aggregation of the prominent preferences, the top 5 companies in terms of attractiveness were Google, Apple, Disney, Amazon and Tesla (all scored consistently in the top 25 companies across all 5 student groups). Nike, Microsoft, and SpaceX followed closely behind the front runners.

Technology companies took favorable positions in the survey across the board. Tesla and SpaceX are notable as the only hard-core industrial manufacturing companies who took top spots though it could be argued that Tesla is largely a tech company.

BMW was the only other automaker that made the top 100 list for all student groups, but outside of the engineering survey, BMW always placed well below 50th.

The survey underlines Tesla’s long term advantage in the automotive market. It is in the top 5 most attractive companies of any kind whilst all other automakers are simply not on the radar of most of the graduates. BMW is the lone exception and even in its case, BMW barely makes the cut.

The overriding reason for Tesla’s exceptional attractiveness as an employer is that all these students want to feel like they are doing something meaningful and purposeful with their talents. This is reflected in the top career goals of students across disciplines:

1. To have work/life balance
2. To be in a secure or stable job
3. To be dedicated to a cause or feel that they are serving the greater good.

This has always been the way of things, and what incumbent companies typically get complacent about. As long as compensation is reasonable and secure, the offer of fat salaries is actually less important to talented people than investing themselves into a world-changing mission. While Tesla has exactly this kind of mission, most legacy auto-makers are simply not seen as “serving a greater good”. They have neglected their broader role in society and have failed to lead the global transition to more sustainable alternatives. Their polluting fossil fuel vehicles are widely known to damage human health and the planet. Talented young graduates, across all disciplines, are fully aware of this.

This is a point that the money-grabbers of Wall Street, the fossil fuel companies, and the laggard auto makers may never be able to understand. These survey results make it very clear that the next generation of workers does understand it and are taking action. Tesla’s mission is world changing and therefore attracts the top talent across all disciplines.

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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at, or contact him via LinkedIn.


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