Part of the CS Internship Guide
Recruiters and GPA
When it comes to getting a computer science internship, does GPA matter?
There’s no “magic number” that grants you an internship. Most companies use grade point averages to disqualify unmotivated* candidates (“Job requirements: GPA of 2.0 or higher”). Almost every company uses GPA as one factor in the interview process (a perfect 4.0 looks nicer than a 2.5).
My advice? GPA gets you the interview, but personal projects get you the job. Plenty of students have a 3.0, but fewer have impressive personal projects.
What if your GPA could use improvement?
Though a 3.0 is “good enough” for most companies, students with less-than-stellar GPAs can still find internships. If you feel like your grades could be better, there are a few things you can do:
- Apply anyway. Even if a company requires a certain average, a great conversation at a career fair can get you in the door. Furthermore, startups tend to care less about GPA than large companies.
- Show recruiters you have software skills. When talking to recruiters, mention relevant technologies you’ve used (programming languages, frameworks) and projects you’ve created.
- Work to make it better. You don’t have to spent 100% of your time studying, but if you want to improve your GPA, you have to put in the effort somehow. Next semester is another opportunity.
I think GPA plays the most significant role when applying for your first internship. Once you have experience under your belt, GPA matters less. And if your average is low right now, don’t worry. After a few years out of college, no one will care about your GPA at all.
Do you think GPA matters when searching for a software internship? If so, how much does it matter?
*Even as someone with a GPA above 3.9, I don’t think grade point averages are a good measure of intelligence:
- GPA really only shows how “good” you are at doing schoolwork and taking exams.
- Theory is much, much different than practice.
- GPA includes “Advanced Biochemistry” and other classes that are not CS-related.
- Students can game the system by picking easy electives.
- A 3.0 at MIT is better than a 4.0 at a small town community college.