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Graduating with a low GPA, what are my options?

kick53rv3kick53rv3 Posts: 1,803Registered User Senior Member
edited March 2011 in Engineering Majors
so im graduating this quarter from ucla civil engineering program with a 2.8 gpa, i planned on getting a job out of college but after all the careers fairs, career center job applications and online job applications, i didn't get any interviews at all. I have indicated willing to relocate and travel so i wasn't picky at all.

So now im graduating this quarter, what should i do next? current plan for me is to keep applying to every opportunity but is there anything else i can do?

I am scheduled to take the FE/EIT exam in april, would that be helpful in terms of getting a job? Should i try to get an unpaid research position to boost my resume?

I have struggled in college and ended up with a low gpa, i couldn't find any internship opportunities for engineering the past few summers so i decided to do summer school so i can graduate early but now I am really lost on what my next step should be.

I have also thought about going into teaching while i wait for an engineering job, would that be a good route and if anyone have any information on how to pursue that would be greatly appreciated!
Post edited by kick53rv3 on

Replies to: Graduating with a low GPA, what are my options?

  • LakemomLakemom Posts: 2,853Registered User Senior Member
    There is a program called Alternate route to be certified to be a teacher with a degree in another subject. For some reason, other links seem to be broken but you can read about it here National Center for Education Information Good luck.
  • navyasw02navyasw02 Posts: 248Registered User Junior Member
    Dont put your GPA on your resume or tell them unless asked. FE/EIT might help, but the bad thing is this job market isn't good, especially in CA. I'd just keep applying for any job on monster that has the word engineer in it. Also dont get too hung up on doing civil unless you really have your heart set on it. People seem to get hung up on "This is what my degree says so I have to do this". Look for other engineering branches that you can probably do like mechanical or some quality control engineer jobs. If all else fails, do something completely non related to engineering like civil service work for the feds. I'd love to spend a few years working for the State Dept as a foreign service officer for a few years. The military will also take you with an engineering degree as well. Lots of options, just dont get hung up on one of them.
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Posts: 2,884Registered User Senior Member
    This is what you are gonna do....

    1) Keep applying for jobs and YES, you may want/have to not be as picky.

    2) After a obtaining about 5 -7 years of experience, enroll in either a part-time or distance graduate program.

    For grad school, ask to be a non-degree graduate student. Take about 3 courses and ACE them which will be very possible because you now have experience. If you have aced 9 credits of a 30-credit grad program, it will very hard for a non-Top 10 school to deny you admission. You may have to aim for rankings #10 to #20.
  • machmanmachman Posts: 68Registered User Junior Member
    Just from the tone of your post, I really don't think grades are the major issue. You come across as a defeated individual not worthy of employment. If you convey to employers that you are desperate, there will be no chance of landing a job. You need to talk to peers, friends, etc. to assess how they interpret your personality and revise accordingly. Again, this is based on one post, but something to consider.
  • kick53rv3kick53rv3 Posts: 1,803Registered User Senior Member
    thanks for the advices! I will continue to apply to any job i see although previously i haven't applied to anything not civil related (such as comp sci or mechanical jobs, should i apply to those as well?)

    also i been debating on whether to include the GPA on the resume, i heard a decent amount of information suggesting both sides and I heard a lot of companies have a GPA cutoff of 2.8 so if i don't include it i get denied automatically, can anyone elaborate on whether i should include GPA or not?

    and lastly i guess I do feel a bit desperate and defeated, but I haven't given up and i will keep trying!

    again thanks for the valuable advices and keep them coming! :)
  • NegativeSlopeNegativeSlope Posts: 84Registered User Junior Member
    First of all, if you want to regret something, don't regret your GPA, regret your choice of major. Even if you got a 3.8 GPA instead of a 2.8 GPA, you'd still find it almost impossible to find a job related to your major because the construction industry has been hit particularly hard in Southern California. On the other hand, I know a lot of engineers (outside of civil), business majors, and even liberal arts majors with lower GPAs than yours, and most of them got job offers before graduation. Heck, some of them even got signing bonuses last year.

    So what are your options? The best one would be to relocate to North Dakota. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the country (below 4%), and plenty of people are going there to work the oilfields. What does that mean? Housing shortages, which means there is (and will be) plenty of construction work, so they'll be looking for civil engineers.

    If you can't take the harsh winters there and don't want to relocate, drive up to the closest workplace near your home at 9AM. Ask to speak to the manager, and say you want to work there. If he/she says there are no openings, ask to have your resume and/or application on file, so that you will be considered if and when a new position is available. Make sure you go back to the store/factory/office every month to follow up.

    After that, walk or drive to the next store/factory/office on that street. Repeat that process. Take a lunch break at noon, and then hit the streets again until 5PM. At night, email former classmates and professors for leads, and apply to jobs online. Do this every day, and you should have a job by the summer.
  • SuperGradSuperGrad Posts: 93Registered User Junior Member
    One option that you might want to consider is to pursue a Masters degree at any of the Cal State universities, whether in Civil engineering or another field. Usually their gpa requirements are more relaxed than the UCs for grad school.
  • kick53rv3kick53rv3 Posts: 1,803Registered User Senior Member
    i been taking your advice and looking into midwest states for jobs (ND, SD, Wisconsin, Minnesota to name a few) any advice on how to find more jobs though because those companies don't recruit much out here, is there any good sites i can use to find those jobs?

    also i tried a couple companies by going there but had a hard time trying to get to the manager as they mentioned they are not in charge of hiring (not sure if thats just an excuse)
  • BEngineerBEngineer Posts: 201Registered User Junior Member
    I think that while you are at it, you might also try and look for a volunteering research position at the university. Anything that is science related will be fine. The reason that most companies don't even give you a chance in the interview is because you do not have experience.

    Since you have skipped internship, I suggest that you go for free undergrad research or join ewb so that you could at least put something other than your degree on your resume.
  • PurdueEEPurdueEE Posts: 705Registered User Member
    From what I remember, 3.0 was the usual GPA cutoff for throwing resumes in the recycle bin. Obviously some companies will hire those with less than a 3.0 but the 3.0 cutoff seemed to be the most common.
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Posts: 2,884Registered User Senior Member
    From what I remember, 3.0 was the usual GPA cutoff for throwing resumes in the recycle bin. Obviously some companies will hire those with less than a 3.0 but the 3.0 cutoff seemed to be the most common.

    This is why it is so important to look at industries/majors that are projected to be in high demand. Hell, a 2.8 over the span of 120 credits with CivE as a major ain't bad at all but that may get your resume in the recycle bin.
  • NegativeSlopeNegativeSlope Posts: 84Registered User Junior Member
    i been taking your advice and looking into midwest states for jobs (ND, SD, Wisconsin, Minnesota to name a few) any advice on how to find more jobs though because those companies don't recruit much out here, is there any good sites i can use to find those jobs?
    Instead of looking for recruiters here, try calling them and/or applying to their websites. Express your interest and willingness to relocate, and broaden your horizons; the jobs you should look for don't have to be directly related to civil engineering.

    Of course, the best way of getting a job is to head up there and see those companies and recruiters in person. Even with your major, you shouldn't have much difficulty. From:
    North Dakota Strains to Fill Jobs - WSJ.com

    "After reading about North Dakota's budget surplus and low unemployment rate, Bill Siderski, 42, and his partner, Jana Lynn, 39, moved to Fargo... Neither had job offers and within two weeks of arriving, they both found work through a temp agency."

    "The western part of North Dakota, in the midst of an oil boom, is desperate for welders and engineers."

    Civil engineering grads from North Dakota also have a very high job placement rate:
    Civil Engineering and Construction Fact Sheet

    "Job placement of our graduates in the last few years has been almost 100%. The starting salary accepted by recent civil engineering graduates was between $46,000 and $68,000."

    "Most graduates are involved in more than one type of civil engineering activity."
  • Oddball390Oddball390 Posts: 34Registered User Junior Member
    So now im graduating this quarter, what should i do next? current plan for me is to keep applying to every opportunity but is there anything else i can do?
    Use loopholes. With some luck, you can make your resume more impressive than it really is.

    Go to a civil engineering company and speak with one of the engineers. Say that you are a student who is interested in civil engineering and wants to see how that job is like. Job shadow that person, get his/her contact info, and offer to help out for free. Most of them won't want to see you around for long, but a few will appreciate that free volunteer help. Now you've got references and work experience on your resume.

    Also, see whether you can take one or two classes at UCLA as a part-time continuing education student. If you do well enough, you can now say that your cumulative GPA is above a 3.0, and listing "Attended UCLA from 2007-2012" on your resume will make you look like a recent graduate next year.

    During the weekends, work as a day laborer at the local Home Depot. You don't have to do this every weekend, you just have to show up 2-3 times a month. Continue doing that for a year, and pay attention to the construction methods used in the field. Voila! You now have a year of hands-on construction experience to put on your resume.

    Next year, expand your horizons. Don't just go to UCLA's career fair; show up to USC's career fair, Cal State LA's career fair, Cal Poly Pomona's career fair, and all other career fairs in your area.

    Even if you do what I just described, you probably won't get a job in your major. However, it's a way forward. It may be a long shot, but it's your only shot.
  • SimbotSimbot Posts: 60Registered User Junior Member
    Oddball's advice is the best yet. Don't give up, stay positive and enthusiastic. Who wants to hire someone with a sour outlook? Answer: no one!

    PLEASE don't just apply to any job that has "Engineer" in the title, it won't help. You have to have at least 50% of the skills they are looking for. You don't need to have 100% of what they are asking for, but you have to have a good chunk of it.

    I'm trying to fill a job now (Test Engineer), the requirements I've listed are pretty specific, yet >60% of the resumes I get have ZERO chance of getting the job, their skills are not even close to what I need. Why are they wasting their time and mine? These people just **** me off.

    Find a company you want to work for, I mean you REALLY want to work there. Then find a way in, tell them you just want to learn about the industry, tell them you'll work for free. Any way to get your face in front of the right people. Use LinkedIN, find the name of someone who's title sounds like a hiring manager, then call them, keep calling them, send them letters. You have nothing to lose, you will annoy some of them and they'll tell you to buzz off, but so what? What harm is there in it? Others will be impressed with your persistance and creativity, you only need one person to let you in the door. I for one value that kind of persistence, I know that others are annoyed by it.

    Then show them what you can do, if they like you, your GPA won't matter, eventually they'll find a job for you. But you have to work hard, they have the KNOW they can count on you. It's hard to find people that you can count on.
  • synx111synx111 Posts: 73Registered User Junior Member
    You could always join the military. They are ALWAYS looking for engineers. And since you have a college degree you could probably be an officer.
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