To determine a 'good company' from, say, a 'bad' one is not really very complicated. It really depends on your interests and motivations, and sometimes your experience, as far as what is best suited for you. First you decide your criteria based on your goals, such as "In five years, I want to be a senior partner in an advertising firm in a major city", then your criteria would include:
- size of cities (Large or population >= x,xxx,xxx for example)
- size of company (10-50 employees, 51-100, 101-500, 501-10,000 etc)
- type of company (public or private, or non-profit organization?)
- industry you prefer -
(lets say you like the outdoors, perhaps a company that sells products for outdoor recreation?
or if you are an avid football fan (hey you went to Notre Dame, right?) -then maybe a company that promotes team sports for their 'main thing'
-If you prefer helping people (because you mentioned Human Resource Mgt - and sound like you are interested) - there are corporate training jobs that use your skills in PR/communications too. They pay very well in some places, depending on the market.
- Do you see what I mean? If you had to pick your favorite hobby or subject in school - then what would that be? What do you prefer spending your free time on? Brainstorm those things, then explore all the industries that support those activities as possible 'best companies' to work for. You might as well be doing something you enjoy if you're going to be spending a third or more of your waking hours doing it.
- If you like to analyze more details about a company, there are organizations that can offer a lot of free information that is easily accessible. For example, the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) gives you an idea of a company's reputation with their customers - how many unresolved complaints they have out against them. Another place is the Attorney General's office or consumer affairs online site (your state will have a website). There are also plenty of people willing to put their good and bad stories about their experiences with companies (both as consumers and as employees) out on the net on blogs. Then I check to see how healthy they are financially as a company by checking on how their stock has done, or what investors have said about them recently. I hope this gives you some ideas to go on.