How did you overcome a low gpa and/or no work experience?
May 15, 2016 10:06 PM   Subscribe

I am one class away from graduating with a 2.6 GPA in a Business degree. I do not have any internships and very little work experience. I have mental health issues and I'm very socially awkward. Am I doomed from ever finding a job? How did you overcome this?
posted by sheepishchiffon to Education (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm still struggling with the consequences of overreacting to a similar situation. You are not doomed, take it one step at a time. Get your mental health in order, take a job you can handle, then reevaluate and go from there. Just don't despair, and keep moving. Obligatory 'go volunteer' suggestion.
posted by deadwater at 10:24 PM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you are one class from graduating, can you do an internship while taking that class? Some employers prefer interns who are current students, so being one helps. Your resume will be stronger and you will probably have a bit more confidence if you have at least a bit of relevant experience under your belt.

Don't worry about your GPA. The vast majority of employers won't ask or care.
posted by lunasol at 11:07 PM on May 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

You know what they call the person who graduates with the lowest GPA in medical school??


The big step is graduating. You should look at the GPA as a sign of things to try to fix going forward, but the importing thing is that you stuck through it and graduated with a close to B- grade average.

Your university should have an employment office to help with interviewing (even after you graduate)

You may want to start working on things like Toastmasters or similar to work on your presentation and people skills.

The important thing now is to start interviewing (while keeping yourself safe and working on your mental health issues)
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:29 PM on May 15, 2016 [9 favorites]

I have no idea what GPA any of my employees achieved and they are all young adults who interviewed for (and were hired for!) entry level professional positions.

You'll be ok. You're not a failure, you're a new grad. It will be a lot easier for an employer to believe in you once you believe in yourself.
posted by samthemander at 11:53 PM on May 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's very rare to have an employer required to see GPA (if you're looking at a top tier consulting firm then they'll ask for/demand transcripts). You can emphasize the projects you had and course work that built good skills (such as operations, finance, or statistics). Even though you're not an expert in these things, you've had some level of introduction to the key topics in these areas.

You can also look at resume templates for entry level college grad jobs. As a precious person said, your university should have a career center that can help with most of this and maybe set you up with a career fair to go to.
posted by toomanycurls at 12:52 AM on May 16, 2016

I'm here to give the suggestion I frequently give in these threads: AmeriCorps. Get some work experience and training while making a fairly meager wage (but better than an unpaid internship). Learn about the world. Help people. Get an educational award to pay off loans or pay for more school. Maybe even figure out what you want to do.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:26 AM on May 16, 2016 [14 favorites]

Yes, you should use this time to do anything! Volunteer for a cause you're interested in! Work at a business you like to shop at. Work at your friend's dad's business because you know them. Get anything to slap down on your resume, help you build contacts, and build confidence. You are about to graduate!!! Congratulations!
posted by Kalmya at 4:41 AM on May 16, 2016

If you can do some interning or volunteering without negatively affecting your mental health stuff, then yes, that's a great route. Another good route may be talking to your college's career counseling center, if you have one, or your advisor, or perhaps a professor in a class you did well in and/or enjoyed.

All that said, you are absolutely not doomed, even if you don't do a thing between now and graduation but get through your classes and take care of your mental health. There are employers out there who care about your GPA, but not all and in my experience not even most, although I'm sure this varies by field.

As for personal anecdata from Terrible GPA Due To Mental Health-land - I opted to go staff at my university after graduating. Partly because it was genuinely a good place to work and a good place for me to be while I figured out a longer-term plan for my career, but also because, frankly, it was an easy way to get a leg up into a first job without my shitty GPA weighing me down too much. A lot of people hiring entry-level jobs at a university will give a little extra attention to someone from within the community.

But that's just one option. Whatever you do, find a first job, any first job, really, and having some solid employment under your belt will make the next one easier to find, and the next hiring person will care even less about your GPA.
posted by Stacey at 5:40 AM on May 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

I know it's not the place for you to detail your mental health. But finding a local independent living support group where you plan to be living will make a lot of difference for you to access all the benefits you need while being able to navigate moving into work. I don't know where to begin on that but looking for independent living services in that metro area is a big start. I worked for one such place in Eugene, Oregon where a woman with a similar story was able to control her syndrome to get a job as a real estate agent. Congratulations on your graduation!
posted by parmanparman at 6:01 AM on May 16, 2016

I had a not-great undergraduate GPA and as far as I can tell it hasn't had any impact on my life other than mild embarrassment. (I still got into a prestigious graduate school, for example.) One or two employers have wanted transcripts as part of the application/hiring process, but all they were checking was that I really had the degree, but there wasn't any concern about the actual grades or numbers. So without dismissing this, I also wouldn't make more of it than it is. I know that GPA is sometimes used by big companies that hire huge crops of entry level people each year and yours might be a barrier for some of those, but otherwise I doubt it will have all that much impact.

I agree with the suggestions of Americorps and other ways to get some real-world experience. Once you have that experience, it will stand for a lot more than the numbers on your transcript ever will. If there are mental health steps you need to be taking to make that possible, that should be your priority at this time.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:11 AM on May 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Get on the ground floor of whatever company in whatever industry you can (and hopefully want to) work in after graduation. Show that you can do the job you were hired to do and have ambitions and plans to move up. Communicate with your boss and your coworkers and take an interest in your work, your company, and your community.

Your GPA won't play into it unless it's part of the hiring process. I don't know the GPAs of any of my employees, and wouldn't think to ask. What you do after you step through the door matters to me, and to most of the hiring folks I know.
posted by xingcat at 6:24 AM on May 16, 2016

I've always worked for smaller companies, and I found very early on that I needed to leave my GPA stuff (which was fairly good) off my resume entirely because the people I was interviewing with hadn't themselves graduated summa cum laude and sometimes seemed outright distrustful of the fact that I had. Which isn't bragging; the thing about GPA is that it's not some kind of direct correlation to intelligence or even working ability. Mine reflects the fact that I am a geek and kind of a perfectionist and had a... very limited social life in undergrad. I was interviewing with the sort of people who'd worked their way through school. Or who'd had a lot of social activities going as bigger priorities. Or who just weren't big into staring at textbooks all day. Plenty of those people do fine.

It's kind of hard to believe, but you can still make enough to at least get started in this world with just a piece of paper, the ability to type (which you seem to have), a basic working knowledge of Microsoft Office (which you probably also have) and a willingness to answer phones. This is not easy with social anxiety, but unlike sales, it does actually get easy, relatively quickly, because it's all rote. You say business degree--do you understand debits and credits well enough to do bookkeeping? You don't have to already know Quickbooks or Peachtree, they're easy and new grads never do. It's not super-fun, but it is the kind of thing that can get you started. If you're not already decent with Word and Excel, there's lots of training stuff available.

The fact that you have your parents, from your previous question, to stay with right now means that money doesn't need to be your top issue. Focus on finding a job somewhere quiet where you can build up some confidence. If you're not concerned with how much you're making to start, you can go through somewhere like OfficeTeam or Accountemps--the pay through temp agencies is always much lower, but they're very good at hand-holding. Yeah, these aren't the exciting jobs that people go to college dreaming about, but they're a far cry from "doomed". I don't really want to be an accountant, but accounting was the thing that got me through the time I needed to work out what I did really want to do.
posted by Sequence at 6:58 AM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Do you want a business-related job? If so, internships may be easiest to get if you're still a student or a new graduate. Look into those asap. It's probably too late to get something for this summer but you are in prime time to set something up for the fall.


AmeriCorps is a great suggestion. NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is team-based service where you work with the same 10 team members all year. You live together, travel together, etc. Because it's close-knit group and you pretty much have to get along, I think socially awkward and anxious people do well (I did!). Every interviewer I've had since graduating NCCC has been more interested in my year of AmeriCorps than my 4.0 BA or 4.0 MA.
posted by thewestinggame at 9:09 AM on May 16, 2016

Your university has a vested interest in getting you a job. Universities love being able to say things like "95% of our grads have jobs in their field year 1 after graduating!" You should call up your college and see if they have a placement office.
posted by gregr at 9:13 AM on May 16, 2016

You could also start your own business.
posted by Capri at 9:56 AM on May 16, 2016

Pick up a copy of "What color is your parachute?" I found that really helpful.

I had very little work experience. I put volunteer work on my resume to help fill it out a bit.

Though, these days, I do freelance work through an online service. All they required was a short writing sample plus contact info. I am gradually figuring out how to get somewhere with my independent web projects.

If you have no experience at all with making money, my experience has been that is a psychological handicap for running your own business. There is just a lot you do not know about the art of providing something of value that people will pay money for and also managing to collect the actual money. Even people with experience run into problems actually collecting the money. That is why that "Fuck you, pay me" video is popular in some circles. It gets vastly harder if you aren't even confident that you did something valuable enough to expect to be paid.
posted by Michele in California at 10:40 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

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