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How Important is Your GPA When Applying for an Internship?

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Getting good grades is very important throughout high school and college. Besides excelling in school and learning the material well, why is it so important that students get good grades? It’s so important because everyone wants to be able to have a high GPA to brag about on their resume when they apply for that first internship during or after college. How important is your GPA when applying for an internship really? We asked career experts from all kinds of different companies across the US and learned a lot from them. We hope you learn something as you read their responses as well. If you have any of your own insights to share, feel free to do so in the comments below the article.

They are important but not the end all be all. For instance, I have had applicants submit their resume and their GPA is lower than preferred (less than a 3.0) and I still bring them in for an interview. If they have work/leadership experience that shows they are getting out and growing themselves as professionals it can balance things out. I really value real world experience and most the time a text book can't teach you how to interact with people, or be a hard worker. If a student has a 4.0 but no internships, leadership, or organization involvement, it can look really negative on their part. So having a healthy balance of both is ideal. Keep your GPA over 3.0 but don't spend your college career focusing solely on school and getting that perfect score.

Kellie Faerber
Branch HR Manager
Veterans United Home Loans

I'm the founder of web media startup Marathon Studios Inc based in East Stroudsburg, PA. I frequently hire interns for programming and development work, and I've very rarely looked at GPAs - the main qualifications I look for are experience and skill level. It's easy to measure a programmer's skills by looking at their work, so I don't have to resort to using GPAs (which I consider a more indirect measure of measuring qualifications). Many other tech recruiters I know have a similar mindset - but I do understand that GPA matters more in more abstract fields (such as media, PR, marketing, etc.) where it's harder to measure an individual's

competency by looking at their projects or direct experience.

Jonathan Weber
Marathon Studios Inc.
"Knowledge, Delivered"

Anything that can provide you a leg-up on the competition is to your benefit. Internships, just like regular employment, have limited seats. Because there are a limited number of spots for interns, hiring managers will need to compare candidates against both the position requirements and the other applicants.

If you are coming straight from school, the only 'full-time job' most interns would have had at that time -- is 'going to school'. The result of how well you did at that job (attending classes and getting an education) is your GPA.

To that end, potential employers will look at how well you did in school: your GPA, extracurricular activities, whether you held an office of some type, whether you lead or championed a cause or organized a community program. All those items give insights to your work ethic, your principles, and your dedication. If you are not diligent in your courses at school, then how serious and diligent will you be at the office? If you are having trouble learning things at school, how effective will you be

learning the procedures and policies at this company?

All things being equal between two candidates, potential employers will look at the GPA to help make a decision. If all other things are equal between the candidates (same experiences, same great personality, same potential), the one with the higher GPA will be looked at differently.

Laura Lee Rose, CTACC
Professional Development Coach

5 Do's that move your résumé from inbox to internship

  1. Major or concentration in field of interest

  2. GPA

  3. Work experience or previous internship

  4. Interest in the employer and internship

  5. Willingness to work

5 Don'ts when interviewing for an internship

  1. Asking to schedule vacation time, or ability to leave early

  2. Asking to change hours

  3. Texting, email, or checking phone during the Prescreen/Interview

  4. Asking to complete school project/assignments/reports during work hours

  5. Lack of appreciation for internship

As a former staffing firm manager, I have hired and trained many HR, Marketing, and sales interns. I have noticed their GPA, internship experience, and work ethic has been a major factor when interviewing for a permanent position. Students should gain internship experience and maintain their GPA. It may help move your résumé from the recruiter's inbox to an interview.

Diane Bogut

While it's not that important, an extremely low GPA might push some employers away. Most employers seek a well-balanced student, who most importantly, meshes with the community and culture at the company.

An intern who can convey their excitement to learn and truly become a sponge at the company, will almost always be selected.

Rich DeMatteo is a nationally recognized career expert at Corn on the Job ( He's also one of the owners of Bad Rhino Social

Media (

A GPA is actually more important to me when applying for an internship than when applying for a full-time job. That's because an intern comes with considerably less experience and you need to weed out those that may not be as capable. More important, however, is that I want to see that the intern has had real, career-minded jobs. I want to see that they've worked in an office environment, even it's the family business. That being said, once a person gains experience, their GPA is not nearly as important as their work experience.

Bob Bentz
Advanced Telecom Services

I run my own school admissions company (with interns) and I have corporate experience as a senior executive at GE Capital, so I have both the early and more experienced career perspective. I have always considered GPA more important for early career candidates (<3yrs W/E) because it is a 4 year body of work and the early career candidates don't have much else to go on.

I have always said that a GPA won't get you a job, but it can keep you out of one. GPA is a metric I usually use to screen resumes, so I don't have to look at every single resume for a job posting (or I provide a minimum threshold). A strong GPA is generally representative of a certain maturity level and focus that is necessary to being successful in a job scenario. However, a higher GPA is not necessarily indicative of a candidate who is better than a lower GPA after a minimum GPA level for many reasons like outside involvement, strength of major, competitiveness of school, etc.. Once I've screened candidate resumes, I do not use GPA level to further differentiate because, especially with the millenials, social skills are one of the strongest correlating factors for success after I've determined that they have a certain minimum focus/maturity through GPA. I've seen many candidates with 3.8+ GPAs with solid intellectual horsepower who had incredibly poor social skills and would've been a disaster had I extended them the job offer.

Eric Allen
Founder and President
Admit Advantage

The importance of a student's GPA during the internship search depends on the industry and the employer. Some employers in industries like financial services and business are more likely to seek out intern candidates with high GPAs. However, in communications and marketing roles, GPAs are very rarely placed at the forefront of candidate screening.

Aside from your industry, there are a few ways you can find out whether your GPA should be a factor in your search for an internship. Often the internship job listing will have a minimum GPA requirement clause. This is just one way to narrow a large group of applicants. Still, even if you don't meet this requirement you should still consider applying.

Another great way to showcase your grades to stand out from the crowd of applicants is if you've held a number of jobs and internships while still maintaining an above average GPA. Make sure to list it in your resume within your education section, highlighting your dedication to your classes while gaining experience and juggling a busy schedule.

As a rule of thumb, you may want to avoid listing your GPA on your resume if it's low. This will ensure you're not being passed over for this reason alone. If you're questioned during the interview process, own up to your GPA and give some explanation as to why it stayed lower than you may have liked.

Nathan Parcells
Co-founder and CMO of InternMatch

In brief, companies are always looking for a combination of values, abilities and skills when hiring. For interns, skills are almost negligible, leaving only values and abilities. On a resume, values are hard to tell so it's really just about abilities. GPA is one of the best predictors of abilities, making it incredibly important when applying for internships. Furthermore, companies are getting smarter about analyzing variable like GPA. For example, they realize the massive statistical difference between what it takes to get a 3.5 versus at 3.7 versus a 3.9. So every point matters.

Cliff Dank
President, Managing Partner
Elm Talent Group

GPA is important in that it indicates persistence and commitment - a student that has a high GPA has typically persisted in their studies, regardless of the relative quality of his/her school. That said, although our official GPA cutoff is 3.0, we have accepted students with GPAs in the 2.5-3.0 range in the past because they have been able to show those character traits in different way - working to support their families, taking care of siblings, extracurricular activities, etc. Also, GPA often doesn't take into account extraordinary life circumstances, such as students that have recently emigrated from another country with a different grading system. When we look at students with lower GPAs, upward grade trends are also important.

I should add that the program has been incredibly successful using this type of perspective: last summer, 100% of the Fellows' Business Mentors reported that their fellow met or exceed their expectations, and 98% of our students reported that the program influenced their future career or academic plans.

Marina Zhavoronkova
PENCIL Fellows Program Manager

The importance of GPA depends on the industry and role. For consulting, investment banking, and leadership rotational programs, GPA is very important, if not the first filter in weeding out resumes. For other industries, it matters less if at all. For these industries, GPA is one proxy of achievement, but professional work experience and skills typically matter far more.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is the co-founder of SixFigureStart

First, in the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business, we see that there are twice as many students wanting internships (Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors 2,500) versus full-time jobs (Seniors 1,200). Plus, of the 150 firms that attended our job fair last month, nearly all were hiring for full-time and only about 65% wanted interns. Also, the ratio of full-time-to-internships position to fill by companies was 3-2. Therefore, the demand is greater for internships.

Second, for the most part, firms will establish a baseline GPA in order to filter the mass of resumes and applications they receive. It depends on the company but it is usually around 3.0. Certain companies and industries seeking majors such as accounting are going to want the GPA higher because of the exactness needed to master the content and to help the company. However, for majors where there is less exactness required and cannot necessarily be measured by grades like marketing majors for sales jobs, the GPA requirement may be less of a factor, especially if that students has relevant work experience, leadership activities, and able to build great rapport with the employer. Similarly, majors like computer science and business information technology, the employer demand is so great, and supply is so small, that firms will have to take what they can get -often times lower GPAs - just to have someone that has some idea of how to do tasks/programming to get a project done.

In essence, the higher the student demand for companies and the supply of people able to complete the jobs (i.e. finance majors wanting to work for a Wall Street firm) the higher GPA a company can require. Conversely, the lower the student demand for companies and scarcity of people able to complete the jobs, the lower the GPA a company will require (i.e. computer science for a smaller no-name company).

Stuart Mease
Director of Career Advancement and Employer Relations
Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business

In my experience as a Career Services professional for 15 years, the importance of GPA's has changed. In some fields (i.e., Investment Banking, Consulting, and Science) a high GPA has been critically important to the application process. However, I do not think that GPA ever trumps direct experience on a resume. The hiring managers and HR professionals I have spoken with say they are much more willing to interview someone with applicable experience without a high GPA, than a student with a high GPA only and no work experience.

Recently some larger companies have changed their views of GPA's and are starting to interview candidates with lower GPA's that have experience. These companies used to just focus on high GPA's from the top schools and I think they are concerned that they are missing some strong candidates from different schools and GPA ranges. I always encourage the students I work with to not only do as well as they can academically, but also get some experience through work or being involved in extracurricular activities.

James Westhoff
Director, Career Services
Husson University
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