Wall Street GPAs: Is a 3.5 GPA Good?

Just wondering what the outlook is for a low/average GPA in this kind of job market as a rising sophomore. I'm networking as hard as I can, but everyone tells me to have straight A's or I don't really have a shot. I'm shooting for IBD but that looks less and less likely each day. Should I give up on IBD out of undergrad, do something else for a while, and then come back to it as an associate?

What is a Low or Average GPA?

The question of what GPA is considered good or bad is highly subjective based on a few elements:

  • Your Major: Engineering, math, and hard science majors will likely be okay with a lower GPA than a business major
  • Your School: If you are not coming from a target school - a low GPA may be an issue but not necessarily
  • The Firm: Some firms have hard GPA cut-offs and some do not
  • The Person: Some interviewers / Wall Streeters have strong ideas about what GPAs are acceptable

IlliniProgrammer - Hedge Fund Quant:
There still has to be a compelling reason to hire you for someone to stick his/her neck out and suggest you for interviews. A 3.4 GPA in business, barring something amazing, is not compelling. A 3.4 GPA in Engineering, on the other hand, would get you in if you applied to the right groups.

I would recommend looking in F500 finance as a backup right now, where I think you're going to be a stronger candidate. Spend two years there, then try to break into research or IBD. Your industry experience will be the compelling reason they're looking for.

Major is also important. We sometimes cut Math, Physics, and Engineering majors a bit of a break given that they are often curved to a 2.7 avg. GPA rather than ~3.3 average in business/liberal arts at many schools.

However, in the case of the original poster - as a sophomore - you should work tirelessly to get your GPA up and make sure that your resume has something to make it stand out through extracurriculars. You should consider taking classes during the summer after your sophomore year in order to up your GPA before junior internship recruiting.

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Funniest

omg you need a 3.8 3.9

- Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered. - The harder you work, the luckier you become. - I believe in the "Golden Rule": the man with the gold rules.
 

Maybe its just the guys I talk to. One alumni partner at a NY boutique (who used to work at MS) said my GPA was "way too low" and to "leave it off all together" because he knows people back at MS who won't look at a resume with a sub 3.5 GPA. Two other junior guys at top tier BB (MS/JPM/GS) said my GPA "looked a little low" and since I come from a non-target, he said "the only guys we hire from non-targets look stellar on paper, and that may be hard for you." I know that kind of runs counter to what most people here say, but it kind of bummed me out. Is it worth making trips to New York and stuff, or should I stick to my local banks in Toronto?

 

Networking can only get you so far. There still has to be a compelling reason to hire you for someone to stick his/her neck out and suggest you for interviews. A 3.4 GPA in business, barring something amazing, is not compelling. A 3.4 GPA in Engineering, on the other hand, would get you in if you applied to the right groups.

I would recommend looking in F500 finance as a backup right now, where I think you're going to be a stronger candidate. Spend two years there, then try to break into research or IBD. Your industry experience will be the compelling reason they're looking for.

 

This is tough to say without knowing your school. First off, if a 3.5 GPA is the cutoff, then it makes no sense that a 3.4 would be "way too low". Just keep doing what you're doing and add an easy 1-2 credit class in which you know you can get an A to boost it to 3.5.

Again, it's tough to know without knowing your school. If you go to a small, complete non-target, then yes it might be a little hard. If your non-target is a top 50 school that has a huge alumni base, then it will be easier.

 

@IP: Thanks, thats what I'm looking into as well. Some decent F500 companies recruit at my school so I'll try and network there as well.

Michael Scarn: Its a top school in Canada (Ivey/Queens Commerce/McGill) with a decent alumni base, not stellar but probably one of the best in Canada.

 

Major is also important. We sometimes cut Math, Physics, and Engineering majors a bit of a break given that they are often curved to a 2.7 avg. GPA rather than ~3.3 average in business/liberal arts at many schools.

Basically, the benchmark for you is a kid from Cornell with a 3.65 GPA in Econ with an OK personality and some extracurriculars. If you're from Illinois and I can make the case that you're smarter/better for the firm that that kid, I'm going to fight to get you an interview. I can still make a strong case if you've got a 3.45 in Mechanical Engineering or Physics and you're 1.5 standard deviations above average, but I can't make it if you've got a 3.4 in Accy/Business where a reasonably smart kid should be able to pull off a 3.6-3.7. Every alumnus will be a little different, but if you're the kind of school where you've got only a handful of alumni who probably aren't MDs, it's more along the lines of us fronting kids who we are reasonably sure are going to kick the Princeton students' butts so we can get more seats allocated to our alumns in the next round of interviews next year.

 

Then you need to get that GPA up ASAP. And ideally, you need something to add a little sparkle of genius to the resume. Are there any profs doing research who like you? Getting your name on a published paper- even in the acknowledgements- is a huge coup for a sophomore. If you're in a top-ten ranked US News program for your major, TAing a course also works. D1 sports would obviously work, same with any well-known national competition.

You need a 3.65+ GPA AND something spectacular going into Junior year to make up for the lack of being from a target school to land most interviews. And then your alumni friends at the firm will need to groom you in interviewing skills.

Hate to say it, but while networking can help, but it generally only makes a difference for candidates just on the cusp- ideally with something really strong on their resume and a 3.5 GPA or for folks with a ho-hum resume, 3.65-3.7 GPA, and a strong passion for a certain desk or line of work. You want to be in a situation where you do not need to network- if you have a 3.65 GPA and play D1 sports, win a national competition, TA a difficult course in a strong program, or help a prof publish a paper, you will find that the companies come to you.

 

@ IlliniProgrammer

Not to hi-jack the thread. Does a 3.4 gpa at top 15 school with math & economics major, w/ 3.6 gpa in econ, varsity crew, and financial internships look like to recruiters? Plan is to get gpa up to 3.5 -3.6.

 
VandyMan:
@ IlliniProgrammer

Not to hi-jack the thread. Does a 3.4 gpa at top 15 school with math & economics major, w/ 3.6 gpa in econ, varsity crew, and financial internships look like to recruiters? Plan is to get gpa up to 3.5 -3.6.

From Princeton maybe, from Vanderbilt it's a lot more borderline. You'd need something on there like a difficult-to-get-into honors program to be a strong candidate, though it seems likely you'll probably land somewhere.
 

Don't forget that #15 Finance UIUC is a target for a number of MMs/Boutiques (EG William Blair, RW Baird), so it's possible that helped with the recruiting process. But at most non-target schools, making it into an MM or a BB is as difficult as making it into GS or JPM from UIUC. No on-campus recruiting. Only a handful of alumns who are often trying to make sure the kids they do help will blow the Princeton candidates out of the water. Then you have clueless folks at the career center who can't really prepare you for these interviews. And finally, when you get to the interview, 3 out of your 5 interviewers will come in assuming that unless they played lacrosse against your school, you probably aren't as smart as the Princeton kid they just interviewed, and you will need to prove them embarassingly wrong in 30 minutes.

 
IlliniProgrammer:
Don't forget that #15 Finance UIUC is a target for a number of MMs/Boutiques (EG William Blair, RW Baird), so it's possible that helped with the recruiting process. But at most non-target schools, making it into an MM or a BB is as difficult as making it into GS or JPM from UIUC. No on-campus recruiting. Only a handful of alumns who are often trying to make sure the kids they do help will blow the Princeton candidates out of the water. Then you have clueless folks at the career center who can't really prepare you for these interviews. And finally, when you get to the interview, 3 out of your 5 interviewers will come in assuming that unless they played lacrosse against your school, you probably aren't as smart as the Princeton kid they just interviewed, and you will need to prove them embarassingly wrong in 30 minutes.

Agreed, our career center is completely useless when it comes to preparing students for IBD interviews. The only thing I can recommend is to find other students/friends that are interested in IBD and prepare with each other. Ask for help/insight and do mock interviews. And keep a positive attitude during those interviews. Be someone who they are interested in talking to.

 

I see it a little differently. I don't know about Illinois, but I go to a similar midwestern school, and all of the major MMs and 4-5 BBs come on campus and do OCR. From there, all you have to do is distinguish yourself from the pack of other students at your school. If you get past that round, GPA and school don't really matter. Of course, if you are at a place that doesn't get many firms doing OCR or doesn't have many alumni in good places, then it is a different story.

 

You're a rising sopmhore, stop stressing so much. You have time to bring your GPA up. For all the people telling you that you can't get into IBD, tell em to fuck off. You can do anything you truly want to do. You just have to be more dedicated than anyone around around. I'm talking about some supersayan shit here. If you have the right attitude/work ethic you WILL land in IBD.

Step your game up...

 

Entire average.

In the USA there is no distinction between graduating GPA and cumulative GPA.

 

so does this mean that if you messed up one of your years of undergrad, that there is basically no way to raise your GPA? for example my first year i slacked and got a 2.8 then the rest of the years i'm getting 3.7. no matter what my graduating GPA is only a 3.4 then? is there any other way to raise it?? man theres gotta be a way!!

 

As with anything it is safe to assume that GPA is one of the major parts of an application that any recruiter is going to examine. But as has been previously said, it does not always tell the whole story.

If you screwed up in your first year, oh well. If you have the determination and drive necessary to succeed in this business, you will get a job and you will succeed, regardless of your GPA.

Bill
 

Some liberal arts schools (Wesleyan, Claremont McKenna to name two) DO have finance and accounting classes (usually under economics).

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-
 

I am junior, finance major at University of Florida. My GPA is 3.82, what are my chances of landing a summer intenship in I Banking at a top bank. Thanks in advanced.

 

Please, I have no problem with you Ivy and prospective bankers have feelings of superiority. However please at least have some respect for others. Just because you are on top of the world doesn't mean you should treat others as your serfs. go eat some fresh vegetables and cut back on testosterone.

 
chevalier:
Please, I have no problem with you Ivy and prospective bankers have feelings of superiority. However please at least have some respect for others. Just because you are on top of the world doesn't mean you should treat others as your serfs. go eat some fresh vegetables and cut back on testosterone.

i may up the test to 750mgs/week from 500. add some nandrolone phenylpropionate and im good.

 

You need to raise it to at least a 3.2 or so. I am an engineering and econ double major with a 3.3, landed only 1 interview this year with a BB but luckily got the internship offer.

i think you can do it, too. Although you go to a really good school and studying a hard major, you still need to have a better grade than 3.0 and have to go to presentations and network as much as possible if you are serious about this.

 

YOUR GPA IS NOT TOO LOW. THE OTHER PEOPLE SAYING THAT DONT GO TO STANFORD/HARVARD/YALE/PRINCETON, PERIOD. JUST PUT YOUR IN-MAJOR GPA OR NO GPA AT ALL ON YOUR RESUME.