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I am doing Computer Information and Systems Engineering. I am an addicted web developer, looking forward to be a programmer as I complete my graduation. I see other engineering field students( Petroleum and Mechanical Engineering) fighting badly for GPA. Is Software Engineering really different in this regard and do companies really don't give much about GPA?

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closed as off topic by Bernard, gnat, Robert Harvey, Mark Trapp, TMN Oct 16 '12 at 17:53

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Not off-topic as related to Software Engineering: programmers.stackexchange.com/faq –  Fahad Uddin Oct 16 '12 at 14:31
Meh. It's not constructive anyway. Who knows? If you answer based on your personal experience, it's a poll. The OP hasn't told us what his GPA is; knowing that would make the question too localized. –  Robert Harvey Oct 16 '12 at 15:22

7 Answers 7

I find that most companies won't even look at your GPA. They are generally much more concerned about your work experience. A lot of people find that their academic training doesn't translate well to working in industry. You could have a really high GPA, but still struggle to be a good software engineer in industry (the opposite is true too). This is why most places hiring software engineers will try to look at your previous work experience and see how successful you were there.

You GPA is more important if you want to continue on to additional studies after your undergraduate degree (Graduate degrees, Doctorates, etc.).

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How much work experience do you expect a college graduate to have? –  JeffO Oct 16 '12 at 14:29
@JeffO - I've found that hiring a recent college grad went a lot smoother when they had actual industry work experience, even if it was an internship. I'd even prefer someone who had worked fast food or retail over someone who had never worked on a real job in their life. –  jfrankcarr Oct 16 '12 at 14:35
My university gives me about 2 years of internship experience. Even when I didn't have experience, a lot of my internship interviews were based on how well I did in technical problem solving questions, rather than my marks. –  Oleksi Oct 16 '12 at 14:45
@StartupCrazy That's great! That kind of stuff looks really good on your resume, plus it's great experience for the real world :) –  Oleksi Oct 16 '12 at 14:51
"I find that most companies won't even look at your GPA." This true for experienced applicants, but I've never seen a company that wouldn't look at the GPA of a recent graduate. Unlike academia, the commercial world isn't worried about a few tenths of a GPA point, but they do perceive a difference between 'A' and 'C' recent graduates. –  Jim In Texas Oct 16 '12 at 19:06

I have seen companies that pay attention to your GPA before they invite you to an interview. They use it as a simple filtering mechanism, especially when the number of applications is high, and the amount of "resume noise" is overwhelming. Once you are invited for an interview, however, your GPA does not enter the conversation.

Despite that, maintaining a reasonable GPA has enough value to worth your attention:

  • If you decide to continue studies and earn a graduate degree, higher GPA may help you get into a program of your choice. This is especially important in bad economic times, when significant portions of graduating classes choose to buy themselves some time by "sitting out" the hiring lull in a graduate school
  • If you decide to switch to a management track much later in your career and decide to go for an MBA, having a high GPA during your undergraduate studies is a big plus.
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Even after you get your foot in the door for an interview, GPA can hold you back. I once interviewed with a company which required a 3.0 GPA - mine was about 2.8. However, I'd interned with a division of the company so I was granted an interview based on that experience and a reference check. My name & phone number (but not my resume) were then passed up to the next level, and I was told very rudely over the phone "I don't even know why you were allowed to interview with a GPA under 3.0" and never heard from the company again. –  alroc Oct 16 '12 at 16:48
@alroc I'd love to hear what company that was even if it is over a private message. Seems like horrible tact. –  Rig Oct 16 '12 at 16:54
@alroc To me, the "never heard from the company again" is the best part of your story: when the culture of a company allows for incidents like this, it's best to learn about it before you accept the offer (and then kindly decline the offer, of course). –  dasblinkenlight Oct 16 '12 at 17:00
"Very rudely" may have been a mischaracterization - this was a decade and a half ago, and my memory isn't what it once was - but she did express surprise that I was granted an interview at all. To be fair, there was more of a discussion with this individual (single phone call), and I did send my resume at their request after the conversation; I had to edit for brevity here. The company was a very large multi-national who I am almost 100% certain you have heard of and may even be a household name to you –  alroc Oct 16 '12 at 17:44

As with most things in life, this varies. Companies I've worked at use GPA as a baseline for filtering new grads. Once you've been invited for an interview then your GPA is no longer relevant and coursework and intern experience are the deciding factors.

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Do big companies like Microsoft and Apple are not much concerned about GPA. For example an expert programmer with a 2.8 GPA would be better than a 4.0 GPA holder who doesn't know how to program? –  Fahad Uddin Oct 16 '12 at 14:32
They are very concerned. That first job is hinging on either that GPA or strong and compelling portfolio of work. Places like Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon get to choose that you have both. –  Rig Oct 16 '12 at 14:34

You're putting the cart before the horse. You don't want to get a high GPA in order to have a pretty number for a job application. You want it because it means you got the most possible out of your education. The GPA is just a side effect of the real reason you're there. In other words, if you're purposely trying to get the lowest possible GPA to get the job you want, you're doing it wrong, and potential employers will notice.

That being said, employers know that GPA is only a useful metric in the absence of other information. It won't be a deciding factor unless they have nothing else to go by. If your GPA is a little lower because you had a family and held down a job in the industry to put yourself through school, your work experience is going to weigh much more heavily. If you got a lower GPA despite living with your parents and not working at all, that's going to reflect very poorly.

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+1. I interview a lot of developers who viewed the coursework as some sort of obstacle course they had to run to be granted a diploma. They have a degree but can't answer the most basic CS questions, and seem surprised that passing the interview is harder than passing their courses. –  kevin cline Oct 16 '12 at 16:36

If your a new comer and have not working on anything yet. Your GPA is the only thing the company has to go on. But if you have worked on shipped software before like: open source projects, iPhone/iPad/Android/Window app, or websites your GPA will not be a big deal.

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Starting out of the gate from college, you really don't have the tools to perform at the level that the big companies need: exposure to business practices, understanding of their various source-control systems (I never saw a single college course that included use of any VCS system), etc.

One of the reasons that companies are looking more often, I believe, at an applicant's open-source involvement is so they can gauge a few key elements:

  1. Has this applicant committed working code on a regular basis?
  2. What is the applicant's coding style? (Do they comment code, follow variable-naming convention, etc.)
  3. How well does the applicant work with others?

Getting involved in an open-source project while you have the time to, now, can only serve to give you something to point at when you're in that interview, so you can say, "Hey, I worked on these projects. I learned these things, and contributed these benefits to the projects."

If you cannot get involved in open-source projects, then you have to fall back on whatever soft-skills you have. Most importantly, you need to make sure that your communication skills are at the top of your game. Programming tasks are made many times easier the better you are able to communicate with your fellow programmers, your managers, and sometimes, even your clients (if your managers allow you to do so).

If you don't think this is important, check out this link: CEO won't hire grammatically challenged employees, has 'zero tolerance approach' to mistakes that make people look stupid at dailymail.co.uk

Aside from that, showing a willingness to learn and adapt, an ability to communicate with those soft-squishy things (called "other people") and translate their speak into computer-speak (and vice versa), all of these attributes can help you secure a good job, and unfortunately, they're not always emphasized in traditional institutions.

This all boils down to my personal thoughts on "higher education" and the workplace. The numbers on a piece of paper provided by your college of choice only mean one thing: how well you were able to "win" at their system of teaching. Out here in the business world, there are a lot of ways you get graded, and only very rarely do they ever remotely resemble the halls of academia.

Good luck!

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People looking at the resume hardly see the GPA. Its what you can do and what you have done in the field BEFORE that will count more than how good a book worm you've been.

I have a terrible GPA, but a good track record of programs I have written/supported/helped develop. I can still land a job and so can many others in the field without a good GPA.

Go to any "top" companies websites and look for "openings for fresh graduates" and you won't see any "must have x.y GPA to qualify for a job here". Companies like Google don't care if you have a degree even. They want people who can DO things, not just read and write tests on it.

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While it's certainly possible for new grads with a terrible GPA to get a good job out of college, its NOT true to say that employers 'hardly see' the new graduate's GPA. It's not the most important thing for a new grad, but GPA is a discriminator for many positions. –  Jim In Texas Oct 16 '12 at 19:10

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