High GPA necessary for Industry? Or is more experience better?

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Hey all,

Is it worth killing yourself to try achieve and maintain a high GPA 3.5-4.0 if you're most likely going to go into industry straight after undergrad? Or is it more valuable to seek out industry experience to get an edge over other candidates when you do go into industry?

This is in regards to Mechanical Engineering.
 

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  • #2
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I would think experience would count for more. However, I found employers who looked at my resume and saw a. pattern I did not even see. They saw the GPA throughout undergraduate/graduate studies improved from about 2.3 - 3.8. They seemed to consider this strongly. (I was surprised they considered GPA at all, and I was tempted to just leave it off the resume.). Still I think is was my previous experience that sold them
 
  • #3
Choppy
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A lot depends on the employer. Typically GPA tends to count for a lot less in the real world than it does in academia. Employers are interested in the skills and work ethic that you bring to the table. So therein it's often experience that wins the day.

That said, it's usually a good policy to try to keep your GPA as high as you can for a number of reasons. Some employers invoke GPA thresholds. Sometimes your reference letters will come from professors who will base what they say on the marks that you've earned (particularly in their classes).
 
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As a (rising) senior engineering student, professors have told me that some of the top companies around here really only consider you if you have a stellar GPA (particularly big oil companies), so certainly there are some companies that do consider GPA, if only to get an interview.
 
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symbolipoint
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Hey all,

Is it worth killing yourself to try achieve and maintain a high GPA 3.5-4.0 if you're most likely going to go into industry straight after undergrad? Or is it more valuable to seek out industry experience to get an edge over other candidates when you do go into industry?

This is in regards to Mechanical Engineering.
A high grade average is good, but EXPERIENCE of any kind is more useful if you want to get a job in "industry". A fresh graduate in an interview will be quized on his ability to think in a practical sense as well as on some very basic and common technical skills.
 
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Hey all,

Is it worth killing yourself to try achieve and maintain a high GPA 3.5-4.0 if you're most likely going to go into industry straight after undergrad? Or is it more valuable to seek out industry experience to get an edge over other candidates when you do go into industry?

This is in regards to Mechanical Engineering.
Yes, it's worth it. In my experience most employers consider GPA for entry level candidates.
 
  • #7
symbolipoint
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Yes, it's worth it. In my experience most employers consider GPA for entry level candidates.
Yes. True.
If some candidates are interviewed and all of them seem equal, then the employer may look at GPA to figure who to hire. The idea is, if they all seem good, then someone of the pool with the higher gpa should be smarter. The employers will usually want the smarter person more than just the other smart enough person.
 
  • #8
analogdesign
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A lot depends on the employer. Typically GPA tends to count for a lot less in the real world than it does in academia. Employers are interested in the skills and work ethic that you bring to the table. So therein it's often experience that wins the day.
As someone who looks at a lot of resumes, I would say for a new grad the GPA is a pretty good proxy for skills and work ethic. There are of course people with low GPAs who are highly capable in the workplace but they are the minority. In my experience GPA is well correlated with potential for a new grad.

My advice is to get as high a GPA as possible. Especially since learning your class material is important because if you interview with a good company you will probably get a technical grilling.
 
  • #9
symbolipoint
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analogdesign said:
My advice is to get as high a GPA as possible. Especially since learning your class material is important because if you interview with a good company you will probably get a technical grilling.
That technical grilling is something that can let the lower-gpa student honestly impress the interviewer. When the interviewer focuses on the technical aspects of greatest interest, and the candidate responds properly, well, reliably, then both the interviewer and candidate know how well a fit this candidate is. Not all companies are looking for someone to have advanced knowledge, but instead are interested in more common academic ability, sometimes combined with specific experience or training.

When I say, "lower-gpa student", I mean some average grade point between 2.5 and 3.0. Any serious student would be trying hard enough to learn as well as he could, but he just MUST be able to earn at least a few B's and not be an only-C student.
 
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analogdesign
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analogdesign said:


That technical grilling is something that can let the lower-gpa student honestly impress the interviewer. When the interviewer focuses on the technical aspects of greatest interest, and the candidate responds properly, well, reliably, then both the interviewer and candidate know how well a fit this candidate is. Not all companies are looking for someone to have advanced knowledge, but instead are interested in more common academic ability, sometimes combined with specific experience or training.
I 100% agree with this in principle. In practice, though, the better candidates have tended to have better GPAs. It's a pretty strong correlation.
 
  • #11
symbolipoint
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The risk of the higher GPA student is that he believes he should start at a higher salary. In case the lower GPA student has enough of the tested technical academic knowledge and will accept a lower salary, this lower GPA person gets hired.

The company representative may say like, "well, we are a lower budget kind of operation, and we can't afford to pay much, ... some of our people have been with us many years,... a few of our people travel .....{some time}, {some distance} to get here, as they like the job/company".

Important usually are : You honestly WANT the job; you really did show by demonstration that you have the technical academic skill wanted and tested; and the interviewers are comfortable with you (personality).
 
  • #12
MarneMath
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I've worked for a couple of fortune 500 companies (well fortunate 10 companies) in two different fields and hired college graduates at both companies.

There's many factors at play, but from my perspective GPA did not factor by the time a person has reached me. Generally speaking for you to get through the automatic screening process your GPA had to be above a certain level. In finance that was a 3.5, in my current field it's a 3.2 So when I received your resume, I already knew you had a solid GPA in a STEM field. The next step is the phone interview. Here I scout out your programming experience, soft theoretical knowledge, and work/school project. Lastly, we have the face to face interview, where you are interviewed by my team and then sent to me if you pass were I give you a "people person" type interview.

I can honestly say that none of my hiring decisions were ever made by GPA. My criteria is as follow:

  • Has the person done similar work either in an internship or at school
  • Does the person know the tools we use
  • Can the person learn the tools we use
  • Can the person play well with others
  • Can the person articulate their skills clearly and intelligently
In fact, last week, I hired a recent undergraduate with a 3.2 GPA over a Masters student with a 4.0 because this the undergraduate had experience with HDFS, Spark, and could articulate technical ideals into laymen terms, while on the other hand the master student only had experience with R, SAS and STATA and struggled to explain to me what a p-value is.

I write all of this to state that no one factor is the key factor. Your resume and interviews are generally taken as a package deal. Lastly, if all things are equal, I tend to take the person with more experience. If experience is equal, then I'll pick higher GPA, but I haven't come across that event yet.
 
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