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The best place to launch a career

I’m knee-deep into my third year working as an auditor, and that means I’ve nearly met my experience requirements to call myself a CA. By my calculations I’ll qualify somewhere around January.

Over those 2+ years I’ve gained valuable experience working with clients in many different industries. The opportunity to learn is literally limitless, and it’s probably the best thing about the profession.

Each year BusinessWeek ranks the best companies for new college graduates, and this year the top three spots were occupied by three quarters of the Big Four. Deloitte is tops, followed by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young. KPMG finished a surprising 11th. Grant Thornton also made the list (73rd).

They are among the first to rethink how to recruit college grads, keep them happy on the job, or just keep them at all. Ernst & Young uses Facebook to let prospective employees talk freely with real ones. Deloitte will show a rap video about office life—made by interns—to give students a realistic view of the company. And PwC requires some bosses to get a second opinion on their evaluations of new hires to make sure the feedback is clear enough, the goals ambitious enough for kids who are uncomfortable with ambiguity.

Using Facebook to recruit better doesn’t necessarily make a place a solid career launch pad, nor would a rap video. (I think Facebook works a bit better. The video will probably alienate more people than it attracts.) Clear feedback and ambitious goals will make PwC a great place to launch a career because it will help new graduates get used to the work environment compared to university.

But it is the experience of working with a wide range of clients that is most valuable in terms of launching a career.