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Top 10 I.T. Workplaces for the Non-Technically Challenged

by Student Loan Daddy

You have a gift for tinkering with computers, throwing up websites, managing complex databases. Your résumé says you’re ready to break out as a network architect, a systems analyst, a master specialist in A.I.

Here, techies, just for you, are the top 10 places to work in I.T. for 2007, according to Computerworld. Ratings are based on employee retention rates, benefits, diversity, and the quality of training and career development.

1. Quicken Loans Inc. (Livonia, Mich.)

Total Employees:4,050
Total I.T. Employees:318
I.T. Employee Turnover:9%
I.T. Employee Promotions:8%

Ranked number one on the Computerworld list since 2005, Quicken has also been in the top 20 of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the past four years, rising to the number-two spot in 2008.

Employee benefits include personal development training, a yearlong leadership training program, and $5,000 annual tuition assistance. As a Quicken employee, you can receive a year-end performance bonus of up to 25 percent of your salary and spot bonuses as high as $10,000; merit increases average 4 to 6 percent.

Free cappuccinos and popcorn are available all day in the cafeterias, and on your birthday, you’ll receive a gift certificate and a hand-signed birthday card from the CEO. On “Ticket Window Thursdays,” Quicken founder Dan Gilbert, who also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, invites employees to travel to Cleveland to watch the Cavs play — your trip will include free game tickets, transportation, and overnight accommodations.

2. University of Miami (Coral Gables, Fla.)

Total Employees:10,156
Total I.T. Employees:307
I.T. Employee Turnover:10%
I.T. Employee Promotions:15%

The University of Miami’s nonprofit status prohibits employee bonuses, but your success will be rewarded with promotions, merit increases, additional responsibilities, and public recognition. Employees also receive full tuition remission at the university, a 50-percent discount to all school athletic events, free admission to an on-campus art museum, discounted access to the state-of-the-art wellness center, and discounted or free tickets to cultural events.

The UM I.T. department is growing, with a 6.6-percent increase in staff size last year, and supports a work/life-balanced environment through telecommuting and flexible hours.

3. Sharp HealthCare (San Diego)

Total Employees:13,843
Total I.T. Employees:325
I.T. Employee Turnover:7%
I.T. Employee Promotions:5%

Besides offering you the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art medical technologies like biometrics or digital radiology and cardiology imaging, Sharp makes a point of thanking its employees with annual summer picnics, holiday lunches, and Thanksgiving potluck meals.

The company selects a few employees each year to receive the Sally Haugh Award, in recognition of exceptional contributions to clinical excellence; the award is presented at a luncheon attended by the winners’ families and the Sharp management team. Within the I.T. department, a quarterly I.T. Leadership Award honors excellence at all levels.

4. The Capital Group Companies (multiple U.S. locations)

Total Employees:7,497
Total I.T. Employees:1,433
I.T. Employee Turnover:4%
I.T. Employee Promotions:8%

Capital Group I.T. employees work side by side with business managers and average a nine-year tenure with the company. As an I.T. employee, in addition to your base salary, you’re eligible to receive two annual performance-based bonuses, and the company will contribute 15 percent of your earnings, including bonuses, to your retirement plan.
Other benefits include an educational assistance program; health and fitness club reimbursement; free tickets to local athletic, entertainment, and cultural events; and in some locations, commuter assistance up to $200 a month, backup child care, an on-site health club, and cafeteria discounts. Ongoing training is available through company-sponsored continuing education, technology conferences, and both on-site and external programs.

5. The MITRE Corporation (Bedford, Mass., and McLean, Va.)

Total Employees:6,244
Total I.T. Employees:307
I.T. Employee Turnover:5%
I.T. Employee Promotions:7%

Also making the top 50 this year in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” MITRE got its start 40 years ago creating new technology for the U.S. Department of Defense. MITRE offers its employees a range of work/life-balance programs, including flextime, telecommuting, job sharing, and part-time positions. A special summer-hours program encourages managers not to schedule business meetings on Friday afternoons, so as long as you’ve got your work done and your hours in, you can leave early for the weekend.
The company also cares what its employees think, soliciting feedback through an employee forum, employee surveys, and executive lunches.

6. BAE Systems (multiple U.S. locations)

Total Employees:4,584
Total I.T. Employees:231
I.T. Employee Turnover:11%
I.T. Employee Promotions:10%

The fourth-largest defense company in the world, BAE Systems earmarked more than $30 million in 2007 for employee training and development programs, ranging from pure I.T. training to sessions geared toward improved communication and advanced leadership skills. The I.T. employees at BAE support advanced computing operations across departments of the federal government and are directly involved with multiple government agencies in delivering new and sophisticated technologies.

7. General Mills (Minneapolis)

Total Employees:17,366
Total I.T. Employees:594
I.T. Employee Turnover:4%
I.T. Employee Promotions:20%

General Mills offers its I.T. staff a number of programs geared specifically toward them, including an “IS Manager’s Forum” that addresses hot topics for I.T. managers, such as project management, recruiting, and global support; the “Women in IS” program, which offers mentoring and community building for female employees; and “IS Diversity Champions,” an employee-led group sponsored by senior I.T. leaders, that has as its mission the fostering of an I.T. community that understands and values ethnic diversity by advocating minority recruitment, retention, and advancement. The company also has an early career-rotation program in place to help new employees understand all of the job opportunities available to them and to guide them in planning out their I.T. career path.

8. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)

Total Employees:17,500
Total I.T. Employees:281
I.T. Employee Turnover:9%
I.T. Employee Promotions:6%

This top teaching and research institution prides itself on its responsiveness to its employees: When a UPenn faculty-and-staff survey showed substantial demand for child care, the university expanded its on-site child care center, extended the center’s hours, and launched a child care seminar series taught by its own experts. When a new seminar series proved so popular it exceeded capacity, the university ran the series a second time and added employee-suggested courses.

An ongoing lunchtime seminar series presents topics such as “Mastering Organizational Politics,” “12 Bad Habits That Hold People Back,” and “Managing Your Relationship” (offered on Valentine’s Day). Seasonal activities include a farmers’ market featuring Amish foods from nearby Lancaster County.

9. Anheuser-Busch Companies* (St. Louis)

Total Employees:34,468
Total I.T. Employees:765
I.T. Employee Turnover:4%
I.T. Employee Promotions:15%

One of your biggest perks working for Anheuser-Busch will be your generous vacation time: Besides getting 14 paid holidays a year right off the bat, after one year with the company, you’ll earn two weeks’ vacation, three weeks after three years, four weeks after five years, five weeks after eight years, and six weeks after 10 years; with five-plus years at the company, you’re also granted up to 130 days of sick leave a year.

Every employee receives 12 free tickets each year for the Anheuser-Busch adventure parks (which include SeaWorld and Busch Gardens), and eligible employees get two free cases a month of Anheuser-Busch beer or nonalcoholic beer.

The I.T. department conducts employee reviews twice a year to determine promotions. Your development and work-education opportunities include on-the-job, computer-based, and in-house classroom training, along with off-site courses and technology conferences. I.T. employees can also participate in the company’s professional development program, which features employee guest speakers throughout the year — you’ll learn about the various business units within the company and cover soft-skill topics for succeeding in business.

10. Fairfax County Public Schools (Falls Church, Va.)

Total Employees:4,050
Total I.T. Employees:318
I.T. Employee Turnover:9%
I.T. Employee Promotions:8%

One of the benefits at FCPS, the 12th-largest school system in the country, is the Technology@Home Program, which helps faculty, staff, and students acquire hardware and software products directly from vendors at discounted educational rates.

Within the I.T. department, promising employees may be invited to participate in the I.T. Leadership Development Cohort Program, aimed at developing up-and-coming employees into leadership roles. Each year, about 20 employees enter the year-long program, which requires 16 hours a month of formal classes on company time, plus 10 project hours a month on your own time. The program curriculum includes exercises in leadership development, visioning, strategic planning, project management, business case development, negotiating strategies, understanding learning styles, and working with senior executives, directors, and school principals. I.T. employees also have a number of opportunities for recognition: Commendations include the “Going the Extra Mile” award, given to individual employees.

Employee turnover and promotion rates are for 2006.

* Anheuser-Busch data was compiled in 2007, prior to the company’s buyout by InBev. It’s unknown at this time how Anheuser-Busch employee benefits noted here will be affected by the merger with InBev, although an article appearing in Computerworld on July 27, 2008, discusses the potential implications for the future of the Anheuser-Busch I.T. department.

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