Thursday, June 20, 2024


123113i-help-wantedThe city released its list of Cambridge’s top 25 employers – meaning those with the most employees – Dec. 13. We’re looking here at the top 10.

The Community Development Department notes that the workers in its top 25 number almost 48,000 in full-time equivalent positions, or more than 40 percent of the Cambridge workforce, but the top 10 is a full three-quarters of that hiring power, with the two largest employers in the city by far being Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – as they have been since 1986. (Harvard has been No. 1 in all but two of those years.) The city’s own government is in third place, as it has been for many of lists from years past.

Those dropping out of the top 10 from the list released last year are the federal government, which in an age of austerity fell from the ninth-biggest employer in Cambridge to the 13th-biggest; and Draper Labs, which went from the bottom of the top 10 to just below the top 10 when the city polled employers between August and December. Meanwhile, Raytheon BBN technologies and Whole Foods dropped out completely from the top 25.

There were no companies joining either list for the first time, although there were two making it for their second year – the Cambridge Innovation Center, whose presence is arguable because it’s a startup incubator that looks like it has 1,472 workers only because it houses employees from 539 companies, and Google – and another that rejoined after an absence, Lesley University.

The city noted three other listings with employment wrinkles: the city itself, which includes School Department employees in its count; Sanofi/Genzyme, which used to report employment figures separately; and the Cambridge Health Alliance, which this year “updated procedures for assigning staff to geographic locations, leading to a substantial increase in the number of employees reported as based in Cambridge.”

“The Top 25 list merits a closer look, as it provides insight into the overall economic climate in Cambridge,” says the city’s introduction to the list. For instance, four of the top 10 employers are pharmaceutical companies or research institutes engaged in biotechnology, drug development or genetics research, and there are three more of those companies in the top 25, adding up to more than 9,000 workers in biotech. “Adding those employers who otherwise support the biotechnology cluster – researchers at MIT, the Broad Institute and start-up support at the Cambridge Innovation Center – nine of the Top 25 employers are involved in the industry,” the introduction notes. (Not to mention six of the top 10.)


While Cambridge is known as a hotbed of internet and software innovation, much of that work occurs at smaller firms. Still, five of the Top 25 fall in this sector: Microsoft, Google, Akamai, Pegasystems, and Hubspot. CIC also lends support to many internet startups. Finally, the Top 25 includes a diverse set of seven employers ranging from health care (Cambridge Health Alliance, Spaulding Hospital Cambridge) to consultants (Forrester Research, Camp Dresser & McKee) and encompassing the educational services firm EF International, and the federal government. The Top 25 list demonstrates the range, strength and capacity for economic growth in Cambridge, explaining the high level of confidence in its future.

It is true: The world wants to be in Cambridge.

Real estate costs remain high enough that not only are families and other middle-class residents still being squeezed out, but in recent years panic from nonprofits and arts institutions have begun to be heard. The lack of affordable office and lab space began to be a theme in discussion of Kendall Square, even as builders proposed projects there and throughout the city.

So it’s good news that eight of 10 employers in this list (all except Vertex and our municipal government) added workers since the previous list, although for many not using revised counting methods or joining the top 10 as a result of mergers, this means returning roughly to where employment was before the Great Recession trimmed their ranks. Harvard, for instance, reports 11,298 in full-time equivalencies in 2013, but that’s still 17 below what the institution reported for five years ago, when the recession was kicking in.


123013i 1 Harvard

Contact: Just as it’s said to be hard for students to get into Harvard, but easy for them to graduate, it’s also said to be good to work at Harvard, but hard to get a job there. The institution gets more than 100,000 applications each year for about 2,200 jobs, so most applicants can expect their résumé to be greeted with nothing but a long silence. Harvard itself warns applicants on its website’s employment page: “Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the response or position you want right away.” And because the process is so decentralized, there’s no single phone number for potential employees (nor does Harvard make it easy to call to get a job at all), but you can search to see what positions are available here and on Aspire, its “external talent gateway” with a “candidate user guide” and résumé submission space. Harvard’s main number – although calling it is like calling a needle that dove into a haystack to hide – is (617) 495.1000.

The blurbs: Harvard’s take on working at Harvard: “Finding a job is easier than you think. That’s because at Harvard it’s not who you know but what you know that matters most. And what you know matters regardless of your field! We hire cooks and cartographers, gardeners and geologists, researchers, recruiters and just about every other occupational specialty you can think of.” After an appearance on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “2011 Great Colleges to Work For” list, with special recognition for its compensation and benefits, Harvard’s been absent from the 100-school list for the past two years. Nor does it make in onto the top 25 list compiled by from employee reports. While most workers quotes on Glassdoor or say good things about Harvard as an employer, a few (mainly in less glamorous positions) complained of long hours and low pay. And, of course, there’s a small chance Harvard might be reading your mail.


123013i 2 MIT

Contact: Although it has 2,338 fewer employees than Harvard, the institute is big enough to have “job groups” it recommends applicants look at as a starting point in their quest to work there. Then search for jobs here. Applicants are also steered to an FAQ and e-mail for further questions. If you still think you need to call, the main phone number is (617) 253-1000.

The blurbs: MIT says it “values creativity, innovation, diversity and an entrepreneurial spirit” and invites people to “Come join our world-class workplace and energizing community of more than 10,000 staff and faculty and 10,000 students representing all 50 states and more than 100 nations.” AARP calls it one of the best employers for workers over 50 (it’s been on the list seven times since 2003), and it’s No. 7 on Glassdoor’s latest list of the top 25 universities to work for, although some complain of job placements that last only a semester and management that also changes too frequently.


123013i 3 city

Contact: The city’s personnel department is at 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139-3219, in Room 309, and can be called at (617) 349-4332. The website is here.

The blurbs: Cambridge government on what it’s like to work for Cambridge government: “Cambridge is a city where people of diverse backgrounds and experience live and work side by side. Our residents come from many cultures, include many races, and speak many languages. We are committed to the idea that city government services should be provided by representatives of all our people. We are building a work force that reflects that commitment.” The city manager is in charge of top-level hiring and even appointing all members of boards and commissions, and that makes City Hall really take on the personality of the city manager – which didn’t work for everyone under the recently retired Robert W. Healy; the city has recently lost, settled or is facing some dozen lawsuits centered around race, gender and retaliation (with costs to the city so far of somewhere around $15 million). But now it’s Richard C. Rossi who is city manager, and employees are hopeful he is sincere in the reforms he’s promised.


123013i 4 Novartis

Contact: Novartis has a ridiculously large presence worldwide and 10 addresses just in Cambridge – six in pharmaceuticals and four in vaccines and diagnostics, two of which have no Web presence and eight of which are split between separate Web addresses. So how do you know where to apply for a job? You’d best just go to main website careers page.

The blurbs: Novartis describes itself a company that wants “to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to prevent and cure diseases” including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, infectious disease and cancer. Its website’s careers page shows off a daunting 39 current rankings and awards in a slideshow, including honors from Working Mother magazine, Profiles in Diversity Journal and DiversityInc., and it’s the top pharmaceutical company in Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list for the third year in a row.


123013i 5 Sanofi Genzyme

Contact: Genzyme, owned by Sanofi, keeps its roots local but has a presence in more than 40 countries. It has four locations just in Cambridge, including a Genzyme Center corporate headquarters at 500 Kendall St., Cambridge, MA 02142 and at (617) 252-7500. For jobs, though, call (617) 252-7629 or click here.

The blurbs: Genzyme says it is “committed to discovering and delivering transformative therapies for patients with rare and special unmet medical needs, providing hope where there was none before,” and it’s focused on multiple sclerosis and three kinds of rare diseases: genetic, cardiovascular and endocrine related. As an employer, it’s a bit harder to pin down, since being called a top place to work in Brazil for the sixth consecutive year doesn’t carry much weight in Massachusetts. In the recent past The American Academy of Arts and Sciences called it a top employer and the journal Science twice ranked it a top employer, but in 2013 those plaudits disappeared. And then there’s typical corporate thuggery such as this, when the company laid off workers and took away stock as Sanofi took over, but let executives keep theirs to the tune of millions – $9.5 million for former CEO Henri Termeer alone.


123013i 6 Biogen Idec

Contact: The company wants you to start here, but if you’re old-fashioned you can try the Biogen Idec corporate headquarters at 14 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142 or call (617) 679-2000.

The blurbs: Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec has grown into a global giant in work against diseases such as lymphoma, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. A survey the company undertook among its workers in 2011 resulted, it said, in 96 percent of employees saying they were proud to be associated with Biogen Idec and 90 percent saying they would recommend it as a good place to work. It was one of Glassdoor’s previous “Best Places to Work” but is not on the current list. “Those who join us experience the fulfillment that comes from helping to discover, manufacture and market new treatments for serious diseases in neurology, immunology and hematology,” the company says. “We offer our employees the best of both worlds: the agility and spirit of an independent biotechnology company and the stability of a financially strong enterprise with a generous benefits package.”


123013i 7 CHA

Contact: The Cambridge Health Alliance’s human resources office is at its Somerville Hospital campus, 230 Highland Ave., Somerville 02143, on the second floor and can be reached by calling (617) 591-4510. Or click here.

The blurbs: Cambridge Health Alliance is a Harvard teaching hospital with affiliations at the Tufts University School of Medicine and several schools of nursing, including Boston College, Simmons College and the University of Massachusetts. It has three campuses — in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north communities — and a network of primary care practices. It’s “an award-winning system that has been recognized nationally for community and academic excellence” (including a second “A” letter grade based on analysis of 26 factors by The Leapfrog Group) and 2014 brings a partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston and new focuses on the Everett facility and radiology.


123013i 8 Mount Auburn Hospital

Contact: Send mail to “Employment” to Mount Auburn Hospital at 330 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge, MA 02138 or call (617) 499-5066 … or click here.

The blurbs: Mount Auburn Hospital calls itself “a vibrant regional teaching hospital” closely affiliated with the Harvard Medical School and tells applicants: “We offer a wide variety of positions here at Mount Auburn, so you are sure to find something that suits your qualifications. Our employees are treated with dignity and respect, and we offer multiple opportunities not only to grow, but to prosper. We are proud of the fact that many of our new employees have been referred by current employees who enjoy working here so much that they refer friends, family and colleagues.” It was called one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Boston Business Journal … in 2012.


123013i 9 CIC

Contact: The 14-year-old startup incubator is at on multiple floors at One Broadway, as well as on the 14th and 15th floors at 101 Main St., Kendall Square, but its mailing address is One Broadway, 14th floor, Cambridge, MA 02142 and its main phone is (617) 758-4200. Its jobs page is here.

The blurbs: The Cambridge Innovation Center claims it has “More startups than anywhere else on the planet,” but the 1,472 workers in its Kendall Square building are split up among 539 companies. Still, as the center entered 2014 it advertised some half-dozen kinds of positions to be filled, from executive assistant and controller to part-time “team members” and “mail and concierge team members.” It has an “Employees testimonials” section on its website that is blank – not a great sign for such a technologically minded enterprise, but it underlines that at least one open position is in information technology. Want a job? Center officials say they “hire energetic, creative people who thrive on new challenges in a fast environment.”


123013i 10 Vertex

Contact: Vertex has four research and development sites and seven commercial offices around the world, but its corporate headquarters are – until a planned move to Boston – in Cambridge at 130 Waverly St. at (617) 444-6100. There’s also a location at 675 W. Kendall St., Cambridge, MA 02142 and at (617) 444-7299. The company invites job searches or exploratory curriculum vitae to be submitted online here.

The blurbs: The 25-year-old company says it is “not a conventional pharmaceutical company. Each and every person at Vertex is driven by a passion for fearless innovation and a bold desire to transform the lives of millions with new medicines,” significantly in the treatment of hepatitis C, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy and other life-threatening diseases. As an employer, it also has plenty to trumpet from outside sources in the past year: The Boston Business Journal put Vertex on its “Best Places to Work” list for the seventh consecutive year; it was third on Science magazine’s “Top Employers” list for innovation, social responsibility and doing important, quality research; and The Boston Globe put Vertex at 17th on its own list of “Top Places to Work” – a fifth appearance on the annual rankings.