How much does an internship help?

  • Thread starter pete5383
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  • #1
Hey everyone. I'm a sophomore in Electrical Engineering, and I just received an amazing internship with a major energy company, and I have a slightly abstract question to ask. How much is this internship going to help me when I'm looking for a job or applying to a good grad school (I plan on attending grad school directly after my undergrad)? For instance, let's say a company is looking at two new graduates, Student A, and Student B. Their credentials looks like:

Student A
4.0 GPA

Student B
3 years of interning

What would Student B's GPA have to be to be to make these two candidates equal? I guess, the question I'm getting at is how much will an internship "wow" employers? Would experience offset a lower GPA, like a 2.0-3.0, or is it only a nice bonus that should be on top of a high GPA (greater than 3.8)? This might be a tough, unanswerable question, but I'd like to get a sense of how much good I'm doing myself? By the way, I absolutely LOVE the job, it's everything I imagined the industry would be :) So I'm not just doing it for a resume builder...Thank you!
  • #2
Well, to be frank. It shows that student A can handle the material, and student B cant. But nothing is set in stone. Just do as best a job you can.

If you don't get in the first go around, you can get a job, work, then go back. Its not the end of the world.
  • #3
It is going to help a lot. Experience is very valuable and can surely offset a less than 4.0 GPA. Though there are a lot of things that can do that.

Let me put this into perspective: If you look at the entry-level job listings at a company like Boeing, you will see under the requirements section three things usually: A degree from an ABET accredited school, a 3.0 GPA or greater, and work experience strongly desired. Note that they do not ask for a 4.0 GPA. A 3.4 GPA + work experience is more valuable to them. After all, numbers can't tell you EVERYTHING about a person. Doing a fantastic job at an internship, REU, etc. speaks volumes.

Edit - I forgot to mention that the above is true for industry. A high GPA is more important for graduate school, though the internship certainly won't hurt if you write about it in your letter of intent!
  • #4
it will probably depend alo on the school/job you're applying to. Some plaes will emphasize GPA and raw numbers, other places will emphasize the what is actually in the applicant.

if you have very good letters of recommendation and you did a very good job at a number of internships, then that clearly shows that you know the material very well and you can clearly do the work if you've been doing well at various internships.

a person with a 4.0 and no experience is still an unknown quanitity, they may work very hard but did they fully understand the material. Can they look at the big picture and solve complex problems that tak more than just the 2 hours of a homework/test problem. Employers and grad schools know this, and will act accordingly, however not every school is so enlightened.
  • #5
Most companies and grad schools should know about grade inflation. Most of my upper level undergrad schools require a 40%-50% in the class to get a passing grade (C).

I go to a public undergrad school, which is in the top 10. Just because I have a 4.0 GPA doesn't mean I know the material. I failed every Stats Physics Test but aced every homework assigned and still got an 83% in the class (which was an A). Does that mean I know stats physics?

I seriously think experience and work will teach you more than schools can ever do. You can't learn leadership nor the ability to work with others from formal education and standardize tests. But that's just my 2 cents.
  • #6
Does that mean I know stats physics?

Yes, but only relative to those in your class.

Overall, the takehome message is, the more experience you can have when you apply, the better. It doesn't matter if you're a 4.0 student or not. So while in school do as well as possible in your courses and do as many internships, jobs, etc. that'll give you the experience you need.
  • #7
Student B could have a 2.0 GPA and still look much better then student A, if student B had three productive years with the same internship.

Recommendations from past employers and evidence of real work output is far more valuable then grades.
  • #8
Bottom Line: The only thing employers care about is how much money you make for them.

I don't think it would be much of a stretch to say that experience is vastly more valuable than grades.
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  • #9
I agree, GPA means very little when going out and finding a real job, they just care about how well you did on your last internship, rather than your GPA. Your GPA is what gets you the initial internship from there, you impress your employers by doing well on your job.

When I was interviewed by IBM at most I got was, hey, nice GPA. So what kind of experience do you have?

But I do believe my high GPA is what got me the initial interview which landed me the co-op position. They actually contacted me, I didn't even contact them initially for the interview but some how they got my resume, lucky me!
  • #10
Having just gone through weeks of phone/on-site interview, I will share some of my experience.

I have virtually no internship experience at all. For the past 3 summers in college, I have been either working full time in non-engineering positions or taking summer school. That being said, I have a GPA of 3.75. I was fortunate enough to land a job with a very good company. My GPA got their attention. From there came the on site technical questions. Just make sure you ace those questions.
  • #11

Not all big companies will ask technical questions.

For instance, IBM was only accepting 2 out of state interns from the east coast for the position at Research Triangle Park.

They didn't ask 1 technical question and I was interviewed by 6 people one after the other, not to mention the phone interviews and other interviews involved.

They cared more about social skills not technical, they see your GPA, if its high (mine was a 3.73) they know you can learn something they give you, so they want to see if you can communicate and be a leader as well.
  • #12
I think part of the interview is really also gauging your social skills. I was asked to explain my reason of though during my technical interview. I knew the answer, but I needed to package it in a way they liked.
  • #13
Another question I had: I'm doing an internship in power generation, but I don't know if that's what I'd like to do for the rest of my life. Is the experience I get in this internship going to carry over to a more interesting (to me) field, or, let's say I want to do microelectronics or something, will my experience basically start over at 0 years? Or will a microelectronics company even look down upon for the years I've spent with a utilities company doing something kind of unrelated?
  • #14
IBM requested I show them 7 years of previous employment. If your doing an internship on a non-related feidl, like say, your doing an internship that a ME would do but you want a programming position, putting that on ur resume is going to do jack, it isn't relevant. Usually you want to put the most important things relevant to your internship/co-op/job your seeking.

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