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College Degree: A Complete Waste so far

Discussion in 'Members Lounge' started by DigiTan, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. DigiTan

    DigiTan New Member

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    Well, I finally finished up the engineering program, and so far I've gotta say the 5 years in college was a complete of time and money. I doubt my diploma's worth whatever paper it's printed on.

    I graduated in December and started sending out resumes a few months before that. I was really banking on this being a turning point in my life so I might actually enjoy myself for once. The GPA wasn't great (2.66), but I was told it wasn't terrible. Plus I had 35 college projects in my name and enough practical/internship experience to find a respectable EE job...so they said. At first, I saw the unemployment as an opportunity to catch up on reading, exercise, and other projects. And in the meantime, I sent out at least 60 more resumes, contacted people, did job fairs, and added 3 more personal references.

    It's been 3 months now and I've only gotten 2 serious resume replies. One already said no. I know I've had trouble finding work before, and being a minority automatically cuts my opportunities down to half. But this is going too far. So far, the only promising offers available are $8/hour retail or fast food jobs.

    I can't understand why only 3% of resumes are getting taken seriously. It's an ABET school. I followed all the resume advice, had it critiqued a few times. I showed them a few of my project portfolios. I even ran credit and criminal database checks on myself to see if I had any negative items. This was happened to me so many times, it's almost as if there's someone out there trying to ruin me. In the meantime, I have to figure out how to pay for luxuries like food when so one will hire me.

    Has anyone else had this happen after graduation? Or catch someone trying trying to sabotage your hiring chances?
     
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  2. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    The problem is the GPA. I am sorry to say that it will make finding a job difficult. Sorry.

    EDIT: If you know you can do better and have the backing you could go to graduate school with the goal of graduating with a 3.5 of better. It is expensive and a lot of hard work but if you can not get a job with the 2.66 it may be your only option.

    If the profs know you and think you can do the work they may give you a shot at it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2008
  3. dknguyen

    dknguyen Well-Known Member

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    I don't remember ever needing to submit my trascript (for the jobs I got anyways). How do they know your GPA?
     
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  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. 3iMaJ

    3iMaJ New Member

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    Graduate school is an option, and a good one. It will allow you to defer any student loans you might have as well as further your education. A master's degree is the best bang for your buck if you look at the median pay of IEEE members of the 3 catagories, bachelors, masters, and phd. The starting pay of a person with a masters usually jumps about 10 grand, and for a year.5 - 2 years of work it's well worth it.

    Also, while attending graduate school, most schools have all types of financial possibilities available, from fellowships, graduate research assistanceships or graduate teaching assistanceships. All of which pay quite a bit better than 8 dollars an hour, and they all cover some/all of the tuition for school.

    A friend of mine sent out well over 150 resumes before finding a job, so your position isn't unheard of. Just keep trying.

    P.S. I wouldn't post your GPA on your resume, and I'd only release it if requested.
     
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  6. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Don't employers have connections within the University?, a lot of UK Uni's have close connections with interested employers, and check out potential employees while still doing their courses.

    I think really it's a question of choosing the University and course you do carefully, and pick both based on job prospects.

    It's often said, that in the UK, the largest employer of University graduates is McDonalds! - although I think this is because so many pick useless degree subjects, with no hope of a job from it.
     
  7. Hank Fletcher

    Hank Fletcher New Member

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    DigiTan, why would you think you're being discriminated against as a minority? If you haven't had many interviews, then they're discriminating based on your resume/application? I don't see how they could, unless they think your name's a give-away. If so, you could try changing your name, if you think it's that big a deal?

    It took me over three months of steady applying, constant job searching, and an absolutely useless job agency to get my current job, and I have 9 years of university, including a graduate degree. The job I have now, which I love, was actually one of those moments where you think, "Oh, it's too far, they probably have tons of applicants already in mind, why bother?" But I bothered, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

    Keep at it, and prepare to face consequence, whether that means getting a job today, tomorrow, or being the next B-average, billionaire entrepreneur. You've made it this far in life, you'll make it farther yet. Don't waste time thinking back and wishing you'd done things differently. Look ahead, and look to now. Start small, start easy, start with something you can do, right this minute, to make your life better.

    The primary purpose of university education is to prepare for, and provide, a research environment. It's not vocational training. It's too bad that (to date, in Canada) that the same value as university training has not yet been applied to skilled-trade fields (e.g. home construction, automobile maintenance). When I was in high school "shop" classes were the corners they shuffled the slow kids into, so they wouldn't effect the evaluation of the more academic courses. See where that kind of idealism leads you? The only people being encouraged to take careers in fixing your car are the ones that were told they were no good at anything. You reap what you sow.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2008
  8. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    In the past, University degrees almost guaranteed you a job, at higher rates of pay than non-graduates, but that ended in the UK years and years ago.

    Employers realised that many of the graduates had completely useless skills, were no good at anything, so stopped considering degrees in spurious subjects as being an advantage.

    I'm not talking about vocational qualifications as what to go for, but 'proper' degrees like Maths, Physics, Chemistry - even English - but nor Sociology, or pretty well anything with an 'ology' on the end :D

    Unfortunately the easy options (like Sociology etc.) have become popular because they are an easy option, with schools pushing such courses at A levle as well, so there's a lack of decently qualified gradutes in the UK, with maths and sciences sadly poorly represented. You wouldn't beleive how hard it is to find a maths teacher in the UK these days!.
     
  9. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    Hank Fletcher:
    I was thinking that the GPA was (2.66/4.00) which is a solid C.

    Digitan's home page shows that he has design talent. If you have not been there I suggest you take a look.

    Digitan:
    If you want to be a R&D engineer I suggest you go for the masters degree.

    You may be able to get your masters in CS if you are interested. People with a degree in both tend to be popular hires with companies that do embedded work. You may have to search for a U that offers a CS masters for people without a degree in CS.

    If you go for that degree make grades your highest priority. If you put most of your social life on hold while they others are out having a good time it is easy to outstudy them and get the A's. If you do that you should have a good job in the bag six months or more prior to graduation.

    If you do not want to be in R&D keep up the job search. The market is tough and it will take a while.
     
  10. 3iMaJ

    3iMaJ New Member

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    Graduates still have a huge advantage over non graduates in america. The pay constrast is a very stark one.

    As far as the EE field goes, R&D is a hot area right now, but you need at least a master's degree to get into it (or at least w/o years and years of experience). I graduated with a 2.99 for my bachelors and turned that around into a 3.85 for my masters. Simply because during the last year of my bachelors I'd figured out how to study and take exams efficiently, however it was too late to fix my gpa.

    Most people know for the most part grades are meaningless so long as you seem competent, and a lot of people don't figure out how to take/and study for exams until its far too late. At the school I got my masters from they had a group of 10 of the top CEOs that had graduated from that school at a luncheon and they were all asked to write down their graduating gpa, the average of the 10 was below 3.0.
     
  11. Hank Fletcher

    Hank Fletcher New Member

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    I'm not convinced having a degree in Math, Physics or Chemistry makes it any more likely that you'll get a job than any -ology, but to some extent this is true. A mechanical engineer undergraduate, for instance, stands a better chance of getting a job right out of their last year, in their specialized field, than a musicologist. That kind of context really undermines the purpose of a university education, though, as it also does the value of an entrepreneurial spirit. Someone who really wants to make a living as a musicologist can, possibly even make a great living, just don't expect someone to hand you a position: you'll most likely have to make it yourself.

    I think that's a big part that's missing from education, in all fields. We say, "Do this, jump through this hoop, and it might give you a better chance of success." But we never really stop to think what we mean by success. We never make guarantees for success, or prepare students to deal with adversity as a result of failure. That's a gross shortcoming of current teaching practice, in my opinion, because failure at one time or another is inevitable. We teach students to satisfy set expectations, even without being able to promise them a reward, when really we ought to be teaching them how to shape their own desires, dreams and destiny into the canon of human effort.

    Without such, there is no progression, no new ideas, no invention, no problem solving of a realistic nature. I think that at least warrants greater acknowledgment than we're giving it now. We need more incentives for students to explore that side of their nature, so that they'll be more easily convinced to be adventurous during times when an immediate, extrinsic reward might not be available.

    It doesn't matter how "practical" or "relevant" you think your field is. People on this forum will obviously have a particular bias, as folks on forums dedicated to their subject other than electronics will have their own bias. Do what you love: it's the best guarantee of getting you to a place of loving what you do.

    I guess I was rounding up. Still, apparently a "C" average is good enough to be president in your country, so DigiTan shouldn't give up yet.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2008
  12. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    I know my position is not a popular one. It is much more comfortable to think the world is fair and there is room in it for each and everyone. People have been saying grades do not matter for a long time. It may be a rumor started by admin types who wanted to keep the kids in school and collect tuition.

    The CEO example shows you can make good with a poor GPA. It does not say what your chances of doing so are. Ten CEOs is not exactly a random sample of people with with lack luster GPAs. In todays job market guys with less the a 3.0 may not get an interview. DigiTan's job search supports that.

    Grades are meaningless once you have that first job. But getting that job and what it is depends in part on GPA. Why, because all other things being equal why not pick the candidate with the higher GPA. He got that part right.

    But as I pointed out in another thread. A turd/bum/dud with a great GPA is still a turd/bum/dud. The GPA will get you to the front of the line of applicants, but it will not get you the job by itself.

    Up to now no one has mentioned references.
     
  13. t.o.

    t.o. New Member

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    Don't give up. I think there will be suitable jobs for you.
     
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  14. 3iMaJ

    3iMaJ New Member

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    The initial assumption is that its the GPA holding him back could be a very poor one, we don't know the gpa to be the reason for the current results. Too make the assertion that a better gpa might yield better results is just as useless as making the assertion that a worse gpa would have no significant impact.

    Interpreting the results as to say that the GPA has any impact on the choice to interview or not doesn't show anything. There could simply be a misspelling in the resume, or a bad resume. Either are just as likely as the interpretation of gpa.

    P.S. All things are never equal.

     
  15. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    The GPA is a fact. If there are other problems they compound the problem.
    If the resume is rejected because of GPA they are secondary. Even if he gets the interview he already has one strike against him.

    Given that the demand for EE's is not great people hiring have many applicants to choose from. Why choose one with a 2.66 when there are 10s or 100s in the 3 to 4 range ? In some companies that resume would never get past human resoures.

    The only information we have is his GPA, his past posts, and his website. None of these would lead me to believe he has some basic flaw that would prevent him from being hired.
     
  16. Hank Fletcher

    Hank Fletcher New Member

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    Anyone with a degree in just about anything can find a good job in New Brunswick. There's a desperate shortage here, especially of people in technology fields. Willingness to travel can greatly increase your odds of landing a job.

    You might be interested to know that most provinces in Canada still don't require technology teachers to have a Bachelor of Education. Usually some work experience is required in lieu, but given the perks (steady job, strong pension, great benefits) and the job availability, it might be worth considering.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2008
  17. 3iMaJ

    3iMaJ New Member

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    I'm curious what his specialty might be.

     
  18. jpanhalt

    jpanhalt Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    Unfortunately, a GPA of 2.66 is considered low at many American institutions due to grade inflation. Last Fall, out of a class of 60 students in organic chemistry at a local college, there were 2 C's and the rest were A's and B's. Ten percent of the students got more than 100% on the final exam (a perfect was 112%, so you could get more than 100% with essentially B+/A- work).

    What 3v0 says is correct. You have to get past the first screen, and that GPA just sticks out. Therefore, leave it out of your resume.

    As for the CEOs, for one thing they graduated several years ago. Their GPA would have to be adjusted by the
    amount of inflation. Second, the traits of a CEO are not necessarily those of the best, brightest, or most productive employee. Cream is not the only thing that floats. John
     
  19. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    I could not agree more on both counts. Thing about a good GPA is that it opens the door. Each year hired a few collage grads even when a company wide hiring freeze was in place.

    Digitan's web site if full of completed projects featuring AVR uC's. A solid guess with be embedded systems.

    This is a description of his latest project.
    The time spent on these projects may account for the GPA. Projects are good, but maybe a few less project and more study time.

    One key to a decent GPA is doing the work requested and moving on to the next assignment. For a gifted person it is easy to get wrapped up in an interesting assignment/project and let everything else slide. Anything past what the assignment required for an A is wasted time if you are looking for good grades. A lot can be learned but it can get you in trouble in other areas.
     
  20. quixotron

    quixotron New Member

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    Yo, what companies did you reply to? Unfortunately, GPA and the school you went to play big parts. HR people are @$$holes sometimes, they do not understand that people make mistakes or had other obligations that made their school a rough experience. But there are ways to compensate for the gpa.

    What are your interests? The CS, IT and software market is saturated. Everyone on this forum knows how to programs pics, write c code, assembly language and whatnot. But very very few have worked with VNAS, anechoic chambers, antenna ranges and rf devices.

    My point is, you have to consider what you need to do to make yourself marketable. at purdue's job fair, ibm, microsoft, amd and intel had lines stretching outside the south annex memorial hall. if these companies can hire chinese and indians for 4000 USD a year, they'd do it. but foreigners arent allowed access to certain government and corporate information.

    However at lockheed martin, raytheon, ball aerospace, northrop grumman and boeing, their stands were empty. they were looking desperately for rf/wireless and optics engineers. so maybe you want to reconsider another field that isnt saturated. because everyone and their momma is a programmer. programmers are a dime a dozen. a good emc/rf engineer is really really hard to find. you'll find as i do, that companies will wine and dine you, even spoil you to get you.

    so picking a niche might compensate for your gpa. and dont worry about that gpa. doesnt mean anythin!. good gpas indicate that the person in question had everything given to them with no problems. companies also want people who suffered and react well under pressure, not some rich kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth! you'll find prject deadlines and budgets require very special people recruited beyond the gpa.

    also, the key to a good gpa in addition to good study habits is...taking a load you can handle! as a undergrad, i would never take more than 2 engineering courses and a humanities in a single semester. id know guys who take 15+ credit hours and bomb every quiz and exam. i do not know how they did it..but certainly they weren't the cream of the crop. dont let that happen to you. school isnt a sprint, its a marathon. you'll take longer yes, but you'll retain the information better and your gpa will be a solid 3.0 at least.

    and most important of all...pray to the lord. ask him for these things in christs name. accept the lord, keep his commandments and minister the gospel. he will take care of you and grant you whatever you want, so long as its within his principles. do this and you'll find your job hunting far easier.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2008
  21. dknguyen

    dknguyen Well-Known Member

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    Yeah those analog engineers are really precious. I don't think I know anyone specializing in it. I chose to go power and control though. If I had to spend another 2 years at the university, the next thingn I would focus on would be RF/Optics- damn hard though! The one RF course I took so far was by far the hardest course I've ever taken- but somehow it's far FAR from my lowest grade in a course. I remembered it as being a B, but I'm looking at my transcript and apparently it's the highest mark I've ever gotten: A-!

    I already have no idea how that happened when I thought it was a B. Now I really don't know.

    I loved the electromagnetics course I took though but due to my interests (ie. things I can build at home for my robots) I chose control and power systems instead.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2008

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