Landing Your Dream Job or Internship – The Best of Ivan Kerbel

career ladder 5

Undergrad GPAs: Will a lower GPA hurt in landing an internship?

Guest

I’ve been admitted to a top program with a sub 3.0 GPA. Will my undergrad record be an issue for MBB recruiting? Would it come up during the intern application process and interviews?

Ivan

I think the answer is, yes, you should be prepared to field a question regarding your undergrad GPA. I recall having a discussion with a partner in BCG’s D.C. office many years ago that focused on a specific course on a student’s transcript … so, whether it’s overall GPA, or a less than triumphant grade on your arts elective, ‘The Making of Metal Sculpture’, there are employers who will want to probe a bit further into your past academic efforts.

And, though your undergrad GPA may seem far removed from your current reality and more recent accomplishments (not to mention that you’re clearly doing something right in order to have been admitted to a great set of MBA programs), there are valid reasons for asking about undergrad GPA, standardized test scores, etc., and these can range anywhere from: getting a better sense of an earlier period of your life (and any challenges, adversity faced along the way) to come up with a better sense of who you are as a person, to trying to test you simply to see how you handle pressure in an interview situation, to focusing on past academic performance because it is, after all, one of the criteria and predictors of success as a consultant.

Now, for a bit of perspective. Your undergrad GPA is likely not going to be the decisive factor regarding whether you receive an offer or not, and it may, in fact, never come up. The trick is to be prepared for the possibility that it might, to have a thoughtful, self-aware answer that not only accurately depicts the circumstances (way back when), but also puts them into perspective in terms of your other pursuits, interests, and, perhaps more importantly, your professional success between college and business school.

Last, my advice to MBAs is simply to be cool, and not sweat too much about things that can’t be changed…Remember that part of what employers are seeking is someone who can be a decent colleague, who can have a sense of humor about him/herself, and who can move past obstacles and get on with the next challenge.

In the end, your goal is to be well-prepared for all topics, but not to dwell on the negatives too much, and certainly not to do so at the expense of highlighting all of your other amazing achievements and undertakings!