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Top Feeders to Tech and Silicon Valley

Updated June 2020

Many young coders, programmers, and designers dream of one day being welcomed into an elite Silicon Valley company where the future of the world’s technology is conceived and developed. In addition to being at the heart of American innovation, those who land jobs at prestigious tech firms enjoy high salaries and countless workplace amenities like, for example, Google’s famed free food, climbing walls, and lavish parties. In order to maximize your chances of personally enjoying these types of perks, you will want to consider undergraduate institutions that have direct pipelines to the premier companies within the technology sector.

To identify “top feeders” in the tech world, we relied on publicly available data from LinkedIn, a professional networking site featuring profiles of approximately 170 million workers across the United States. Specifically, we identified and analyzed the undergraduate backgrounds of nearly 202,000 entry-level engineering and information technology employees across eleven of the most reputable American tech companies, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Adobe, Airbnb, and Lyft. We then constructed two lists. The first list looks at the raw number of alumni employed by this select group. The second list looks at the top 30 producers when adjusted for undergraduate enrollment, which allows us to highlight schools that may be smaller in size, but that still send a significant number of graduates directly to these prestigious companies.

Finally, we identified two top employers for each institution. The first top employer is the tech company employing the most undergraduate alumni from a particular school. The second top employer is the tech company with the highest share of employees from that undergraduate school. For example, Carnegie Mellon's first top employer is Google, because more CMU (undergraduate) alumni work at Google than at any of the other ten tech companies. Carnegie Mellon's second top employer is LinkedIn because its graduates comprise a larger share of all employees at LinkedIn than they do at any other company in our analysis. If a school's second top employer and first top employer, we indicate the tech company with the second highest share of employees instead. Measuring both total graduates employed and the institutional share of a company’s employees allows us to identify schools offering the best pipelines to smaller yet highly prestigious tech firms, such as LinkedIn and Adobe, which may draw heavily from one particular institution but wouldn't otherwise make an institution's list of top employers because of its relatively small size.

Top Feeder Rankings (by total employed)

Rank (Total)Institution# EmployedTop Employer (Total)Top Employer (Share)
1Carnegie Mellon University3,983GoogleAirbnb
2University of Washington3,916MicrosoftDropbox
3University of California, Berkeley3,605GoogleLinkedIn
4University of Southern California3,449AmazonLinkedIn
5Stanford University3,209GoogleAirbnb
6Georgia Institute of Technology3,002AmazonFacebook
7University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign2,295GoogleTwitter
8University of California, San Diego2,219GoogleLinkedIn
9University of California, Los Angeles2,169GoogleLinkedIn
10University of Michigan1,905GoogleLyft
11Cornell University1,822GoogleAirbnb
12The University of Texas at Austin1,787GoogleApple
13San Jose State University1,784AppleAdobe
14Columbia University1,739GoogleAirbnb
15Massachusetts Institute of Technology1,507GoogleTwitter
16New York University1,477AmazonAirbnb
17Northeastern University1,450AmazonFacebook
18University of California, Irvine1,419AmazonLinkedIn
19Purdue University1,335AmazonFacebook
20University of Maryland1,113AmazonTwitter
21University of Pennsylvania1,095GoogleAirbnb
22University of California, Davis1,071GoogleLinkedIn
23University of Wisconsin - Madison986GoogleFacebook
24Ohio State University935AmazonTwitter
25Harvard University816GoogleAirbnb
26Duke University786GoogleAirbnb
27University of California, Santa Barbara742GoogleTwitter
28Virginia Tech723AmazonFacebook
29Northwestern University694GoogleLinkedIn
30Boston University679AmazonTwitter


Top Feeder Rankings (adjusted for undergraduate enrollment)

Rank (Adusted)Institution# EmployedTop Employer (Total)Top Employer (Share)
1Carnegie Mellon University3,983GoogleAirbnb
2California Institute of Technology434GoogleFacebook
3Stanford University3,209GoogleAirbnb
4Massachusetts Institute of Technology1,507GoogleTwitter
5Harvey Mudd College278GoogleTwitter
6Columbia University1,739GoogleAirbnb
7Georgia Institute of Technology3,002AmazonFacebook
8University of Southern California3,449AmazonLInkedIn
9Rice University570GoogleAirbnb
10University of Washington3,916MicrosoftDropbox
11Harvard University816GoogleAirbnb
12Cornell University1,822GoogleAirbnb
13University of California, Berkeley3,605GoogleLInkedIn
14Duke University786GoogleAirbnb
15Santa Clara University638GoogleLinkedIn
16University of Pennsylvania1,095GoogleAirbnb
17Johns Hopkins University573GoogleLyft
18Princeton University569GoogleAirbnb
19Brown University656GoogleTwitter
20Northwestern University694GoogleLinkedIn
21Dartmouth College349GoogleTwitter
22Northeastern University1,450AmazonFacebook
23Yale University450GoogleDropbox
24University of California, San Diego2,219GoogleLInkedIn
25University of California, Los Angeles2,169GoogleLinkedIn
26University of Chicago425GoogleTwitter
27University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign2,295GoogleTwitter
28San Jose State University1,784AppleAdobe
29University of Michigan1,905GoogleLyft
30Washington University in St. Louis465GoogleDropbox


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