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Working Wildcat: Experience employers value over GPA

A high GPA might represent achievement in a college
classroom, but it doesn’t ensure your success in the work force.

While there is hardly a valid excuse for doing poorly in a class, a bad grade doesn’t stain you with incompetence to a recruiter.

Here are five things that can matter more to a recruiter than your GPA.

1. Social skills

While there are some jobs out there that allow you to camp out in a small cubicle with little human interaction, most jobs require you to interact with a variety of people. If you have a high GPA but are socially awkward, you probably won’t thrive in the work force. The ability to have confidence and strike up a conversation is a lot more useful than the A you got in “Far Eastern Art Survey.”

2. Functioning in a team

Yes, the dreaded team projects are not just a college torture system; they are in fact a part of real life. Those projects are designed to help you learn to work collaboratively, communicate with peers and manage deadlines. If you have a low GPA, tell a recruiter how you successfully worked on a team project, what you learned and how you can take that knowledge and use it in their company.

3. Time management skills

Transitioning into college is difficult, and poor grades are often a reflection of this transition. What is important is that you can convey to a recruiter how you have improved since the beer bong haze of freshman year. Explain how you have learned to better manage your personal life with your other commitments.

4. Experience

If you have a less than perfect GPA because you worked part-time, joined organizations or had a couple of internships, your resume is more powerful than the applicant who did nothing except get good grades. Though folding shirts at Trucker probably isn’t a relevant job for your career path, the ability to hold a job is.

5. An established network

The old saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” is an important concept to grasp in college. Why you might just see your professors as boring drones set out to ruin your weekends with term papers, they are actually influential connections beyond the academic world. Keep in mind that a good reference can go a long way.

Recruiters view your college education as an experience, and good grades are just a slice of that experience.

Ariel Hernandez can be reached at [email protected] or @Aj7uriel on Twitter.

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