Sub-3.0 GPA and Engineering Jobs

<p>Hi</p>

<p>I'm a Mechanical Engineering student who has roughly a 2.68 to 2.72 GPA (depending on how the semester finishes) from a mediocre university. Some of this is my own darn fault so I won't give you guys a 10 page story of excuses. Also, I have no other previous internships. </p>

<p>Anyways, I was hoping to eventually work as an aerospace engineer for a major company. Most of the entry-level job applications that I've looked at seem to require a GPA of 3.0 or above. Does this mean they just throw my resume away whenever I apply to these companies since I don't meet their minimum requirement? The only exception to this "3.0-rule" seems to be some Boeing positions that require at least a 2.8 (which is STILL not within my range). So, in general, is their any hope for me or should I start looking for other types of jobs (finance, sales, ... mcdonalds)?</p>

<p>I feel kind of blindsided by this fact because I went through my whole college career being told that GPA wasn't important. I thought all I needed to do was get the degree so I went by the rule "C's get Degrees"</p>

<p>You're correct, many engineering companies will dismiss you if you don't have a 3.0. My best advice for you is to apply to EVERYTHING. Go to every company's website and apply like crazy. Every aerospace company I've heard of has at least a 2.8 GPA cutoff, however I have known exceptions to this rule at one of the "big 3" aerospace companies. </p>

<p>Also, don't dismiss positions that are looking for engineering grads in general. There are many oil/gas related positions that simply look for their applicant to have any engineering degree, and typically they pay pretty good as well. Despite the economy, in general, there seems to be a shortage of engineers entering the workplace. Find something that's not as competitive, maybe not related to ME/AE, and go for it.</p>

<p>And, C's do get degrees, but that doesn't always correlate to jobs.</p>

<p>Really? You were "blindsided" by the fact that how you do in school actually matters?</p>

<p>Unless you have really strong connections, you're probably going to have a rough time after you graduate. It doesn't hurt to apply, but I honestly think that an engineer position at Boeing is unlikely to happen. I have a friend who was in the same boat as you -- ME major who graduated with a low GPA -- and have watched her apply to all of the big defense companies (Northrop, Raytheon, Lockheed, etc.) and never get a response. You're going to have to build up your resume, first... and that isn't going to be easy. </p>

<p>If you're still in school, can you raise your GPA before you graduate? If I were you, I'd seriously consider taking an extra semester to just raise my GPA. You don't have to pad it with trivial courses -- you can take interesting courses that are relevant to your field and try to get As in them this time.</p>

<p>Better idea - realize now that most engineers eventually lose their jobs and make the switch to business and get your CPA and possibly MBA. Your grades will improve, u will earn far more money and you will be the one cutting versus being cut. If you finisih your engineering, many employers will think it is cool that you have an ME degree.</p>

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<p>Do you have sources to back-up this wild claim?</p>

<p>Do you have any subset of your GPA that is above a 3.0 or a 3.5? Major GPA? Concentration within major GPA? GPA for any specific year? </p>

<p>Agree with others advice to apply everywhere. To be honest, engineering firms are among the most tolerable of a low GPA. Business will be a lot harder unless you have some of connection.</p>

<p>I have to agree with the others as far as apply everywhere. You might not get the average salary right off the bat...and you might start off as some test engineer instead of design/development BUT KICK A** wherever you go.</p>

<p>Due the undergrad GPA, you will probably be knocked out of being admitted to a Top-15 graduate program AND will need about 5-7 years experience before thinking about grad school. You WILL have to do grad school (and of course kick butt) so that your undergrad work factors in less and you can use your grad school GPA.</p>

<p>It can be done. I was in the same boat as yourself and I wasn't engineering as an undergrad. Once I lucked out and received a job, I took every chance I could to help my qualifications. Once I got into grad school (after years of experience) I KNEW I had to make the most of it so I had revised my study skills.</p>

<p>As a retired former manager in aerospace, the 3.0 GPA floor does exist and it can be a hard floor. That means that no way would HR even process a hire request for someone without a 3.0 GPA. I could get them to hire someone with an overall GPA less than 3.0 if the low grades were not in the STEM classes and the STEM GPA was 3.0 or higher (I would recalculate the GPA). However, even getting close to a 3.0 was usually a quick trip to the round file unless the person had some experience directly related to the job being offered. You usually had enough candidates that the GPA to actually get hired was much higher than 3.0. I would also give better consideration to those candidates whose GPAs were rising as they went along in their college careers.</p>

<p>Once you've been out of school about 5 years, the college GPA isn't as critical. You'll be evaluated on your experience at that point.</p>

<p>My son was in the same situation as you are in with a low GPA. He was a junior at the time. He couldn't find an internship as those required even higher GPAs (3.4 or above for the company I worked for) because of the competition for them. He ended up doing an unpaid summer project in his area of interest within ME with one of his professors. </p>

<p>When he graduated, he confined his job search to the smaller companies as he knew that he'd never get past the GPA issue with the larger companies (his upper level STEM GPA was about 3.4). He was getting some in plant interviews and he would bring his summer project report and supporting materials with him. He interviewed with a company that was doing exactly what he wanted and the summer project work was exactly what they wanted to see. They got a job offer to him in what I thought was record time (which he, of course, accepted). His college publishes (without names of course) the starting salaries of their graduates by department. His starting salary was in the top 20 or so percent of this year's grads.</p>

<p>I tell my son's story because it is something similar to what you will have to do find a job. He was looking on the various online job boards to find these small companies.</p>

<p>You cannot compete on the same field for the same jobs with graduates who have higher gpas from better colleges. In today's tight job market, you will need to change your gameplan to account for the realities of low grades and no experience.</p>

<p>What do you have that would be a value to a company? Huge CAD skills? Projects that required machine automation? Grab onto something that you can play up and showcase, then sell that aggressively. Feel free to peacock. It is better to be remembered and not get the job than to blend in with other candidates because your resume does not compare well.</p>

<p>Do not email bomb large companies with your resume and expect results. For local companies, walk in unannounced. Be casual and tell them you just happened to see them as you were passing by and thought you would stop in. For companies further away, find phone numbers and call. If you have a name of someone in the company, ask for them, or else ask to speak to the engineering manager. You have to be persistent; don't let them blow you off with the standard "send in a resume" because you know what will happen to it. Don't let the constant stream of rejection get you down. If you are having trouble building rapport with the people you call, go to the mall and practice with strangers. Something will eventually stick.</p>

<p>Look into small companies that will not have a hierarchical human resources department. A business owner can take a chance on you that an HR professional would not be able to justify. Be willing to relocate and look into geographical areas that have recently built large factories like Boeing in SC or BMW in Alabama. They will have a temporary shortage of skilled workers until enough new people have moved in. If you want to work with airplanes, look for any company related to the industry - seats, wiring harnesses, injection molders, lighting, etc.</p>

<p>You do not need grad school or an MBA. What you need is a job where you can get experience and prove yourself. Many very successful people started in your shoes.</p>

<p>EDIT: Yeah, essentially what HPuck said.</p>

<p>Is this 3.0 ceiling true regardless of what caliber of engineering school you went to? If you go to a more difficult program, do they not cut you some slack? </p>

<p>It reminds me of the ranking process in HS where if you get a 4.0 with no AP classes you are ranked higher than a 3.7 with several.</p>

<p>Why does Engineering have this 3.0 cut-off? Where did it come from? Other majors don't seem to have that.</p>

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As a retired former manager in aerospace, the 3.0 GPA floor does exist and it can be a hard floor. That means that no way would HR even process a hire request for someone without a 3.0 GPA.

[/quote]
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<p>Then why do I have counter information? Or are you talking about only one company or only in the US?</p>

<p>Most US companies have this type of filter - probably about 80% when I graduated. Some companies have the floor because it is an essential part of their business. They can only use engineers who are meticulous and conditioned to performing without errors. A mistake in chip design can cost $1B. A mistake in a chemical reactor can kill people.</p>

<p>Some companies (even our own US government) do it because they think they will get better quality applicants, but they end up with guys with a 3.2 from Whassamatta U. being chosen over a 3.0 from MIT.</p>

<p>Your last statement supports my statement about rank. Ranking is only one variable.</p>

<p>So I guess I might be in for an uphill path. I'm a bit skeptic of what some of you are telling me though and here's why. The average engineering GPA at most universities is about 2.8-3.1. This means that 40-60-ish % of graduating engineers cannot be employed because they're below a 3.0. To me that sounds odd because I know employment for engineers is great. Also, I can play the diversity card so that will help me A LOT. </p>

<p>Basically, if what you guys are saying is true and it's extremely difficult for engineering students below 3.0 to get a job in the aero industry then there would be a lot of engineering grads w/o jobs. Opinions?</p>

<p>I graduated 5 years ago, and based on what I've observed from my friends and former classmates (most of whom were science and engineering majors), it's definitely true. Things are a little bit better for computer science majors simply because of the abundance of jobs out there for them. The CS majors who graduated with poor grades were usually able to find jobs somewhere. They wouldn't get a call back from a big tech firm, but many were able to find jobs at small companies as web developers or programmer analysts or whatever. For instance, one former classmate does web dev for a small, non-profit organization and another does web dev for some sort of pop-psychology, self-help company.</p>

<p>I've noticed that the job market is much tougher for other majors (EE, MAE) who did poorly in school. I personally have friends who were unemployed for a year or two before taking on low paying lab technician jobs and things like that. And these are grads from a decent engineering school (UC San Diego). Unless you go to a top 10 school, I think you will definitely have trouble finding a good job out of college, especially in these economic times. You really should try to raise your GPA as much as possible before graduating.</p>

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<p>No, that means that 40-60% of engineering graduates may not get to work in a desirable position immediately after graduation.</p>

<p>The "diversity card" generally only works at larger companies. However, also keep in mind that these companies are the most likely to employ automatic resume/applicant filters to sub-par GPA's. You got yourself into this mess, so I would start looking less at excuses and more at your qualifications.</p>

<p>So I guess I just apply for companies that do not have the 3.0 filter system. I heard from various practicing engineers that you hardly use the things you learned in your courses once you're actually working. This is why I still find it odd that companies require a 3.0</p>

<p>GPA is an indicator of not only your ability to remember things, but also of performance. When companies have many applicants, they have to use some type of metric to whittle down the field. GPA is seen as a reliable indicator of how well a person performs.</p>

<p>Somebody else on here mentioned that engineering companies cannot afford to employ sloppy, careless people. A mistake on a microchip can cost a company a billion dollars. A mistake on a bridge or reactor can cost lives. Employers need to know that a candidate can perform at a certain level without making a bunch of mistakes, and a high GPA is one way of measuring this. It does not mean that the applicant is for sure getting the job, but it is how they choose to filter out applicants.</p>

<p>I should have pointed out that the HR department had a list of schools we did our recruiting from, all top engineering schools. We would consider other schools, but the GPA and the candidate got more scrutiny. The 3.0 floor didn't change but remember, the 3.0 floor was only the first screen and and the absolute minimum. Most college hires were well above the 3.0 GPA level. So, in effect the schools ranking did factor into the GPA, just not via a hard number. Also, that pre-screening was to help the hiring manager. Now, he (or she) only had to go thru a stack of 100 resumes instead of a stack of 300 for that 1 job. (who knows what the actual numbers are, but you get the point)</p>

<p>Why would the company be that way about GPA? Because we got many more applicants than we had jobs, why not choose the best. Besides, what you really wanted to find was that next superstar engineer (which goes far beyond that college GPA). </p>

<p>If you didn't have the drive to get the grades in college, what was going to change on the job? That doesn't mean you can't change, you can. We could just pick the already proven people. That is why you stand a better chance at a small company that doesn't get the large number of applicants and doesn't pre-screen the applicants.</p>

<p>To comment on a point another poster made: The company I worked for was in the manned space business. Mistakes could be deadly. However, no new hire was ever put in a position where he alone could make a mistake that costly no matter what his college GPA was. In fact, you were constantly evaluating your staff and higher level people reviewed lower level engineer's work. It was only after many years of proving yourself and moving up in the staff levels that you were put in position where your judgement could prove costly. Even at that, major (and many minor) decisions were reviewed by several people including the NASA customer, typically at very formal reviews. Not to say the system was perfect, it was shown twice to be wrong (and many, many more times to be right). But do you really want someone who really didn't "get it" in college to be making those decisions. I think not.</p>