I'm currently a freshmen enrolled in Electrical and Computer Engineering major, and I'm seriously getting my ass kicked by these core engineering classes. Sure, I'm getting a lot out of it, but I doubt I'll be able to manage a single A this quarter and I might be bordering on a C as well :/ My plan was to minor in the Dyson Business Minor for Engineers, load myself up with a bunch of finance internships and end up applying for some IB jobs upon graduation. I figured a STEM background couldn't exactly hurt when it came to applying for financial jobs, but judging by the state of things I seriously doubt I'll end up getting that 3.7+ GPA. Do you think that my GPA can take this fall if I hope to end up getting a job in financial services? Or do you think it's worth salvaging my GPA and switching out of ECE (my real interest) into another field?
Electrical & Computer Engineering majors are both brutally hard majors. However, these majors also give strong employment options to students. (provided that you manage to graduate with a decent GPA)
If your true goal is to enter I-banking, you should be concerned with getting a high GPA. Period. I-banking firms won't likely to give you slot for an interview with a 3.2 GPA in electrical engineering, over those dozens of AEM/CAS/PAM/Hotel kids with 3.7-3.8 GPA's, even if you may have worked much harder.
The reason for that is, I-banking firms don't really care about your major. Most I-banking analysts don't use any more of quant/math skills beyond basic high school algebra. Most of what analysts do is make PowerPoint slides for pitching to clients, run "models" on excel spreadsheet, do tons of data entry, and other grunt work. Hence, these firms don't care if you know how to solve differential equations or not. They just want to hire well-rounded, decently intelligent, well-pedigreed students with top notch GPA and internships who are capable of handling 90-100 working hours per week without screwing things up.
That being said, staying in a hard engineering curriculum does get you an edge outside of IB jobs, such as certain quant-focused hedge funds, prop trading shops, or research sides of finance. Or, in case you strike out at IB jobs, it gives you the fallback option of attaining engineering-related jobs. But just for vanilla IB or Consulting analyst position, the most important factors are top GPA + strong relevant internships in landing interviews. After you get the interview, what matters the most is your ability to seal the deal.
Closely tied with my predicament -- how much impact does a C have on your transcript? Forgive me for my apparent fixation on GPA. I just really just want to be competitive in that IB candidate pool :/
I understand you are stressed, and rightfully so. You are majoring in one of the most difficult courses at Cornell. A C does really kill your GPA. One or two, and rest are high B's or A's, then you are fine in the long term. But, in engineering, that scenario won't likely to happen that easily.
You've got some things to think about. Ask yourself exactly what type of career you are interested in, and if the answer is I-banking by a land-slide, you should consider switching your major to something 'easier'.