What happens to the 4.0 GPA guy with no social skills?

While reading this 3.9+ GPA BAD thread I got to thinking: What happens to the graduate with a 4.0 gpa and no social skills?


For those of you who are older and knew this type of person in college, what is he doing now?

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Comments (49)

Jul 30, 2018 - 3:58am

Social skills are important, but I would reckon most anyone with perfect grades from a good school ends up okay. They portray themselves as hard workers, perfect for banking analyst programs, and then after their two years can exit to something that doesn't require a lot of people skills..

Jul 30, 2018 - 6:54am

The answer is actuary. In limited cases, the answer can also be accounting or quant.

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Jul 30, 2018 - 2:17pm

Pretty much this

in it 2 win it
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Aug 7, 2018 - 2:14pm

Actuary would be pretty dry work. Bar being a quant, I'd say most roles where social skills aren't needed aren't that intellectually stimulating

Lol, is this a joke? I don't know what your definition of "intellectually stimulating" is but most engineering and highly quantitative finance jobs are more intellectually stimulating than finance jobs that require social skills. By intellectually stimulating I mean they generally require more robust technical discipline.

Oct 9, 2021 - 7:56pm

It's now been four years, Are there any interim updates? How is your life going?

Life is a non-stopping journey.
Jul 30, 2018 - 5:41pm

Let me break it down. The most prestigious companies, that pay undergraduates a lot, get slammed with thousands of applications. So they actively seek to interview those who are the smartest (ie high GPA, top school) to quickly weed the applications out. People with high GPAs = smarter. These companies want to have smart people working for them



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Jul 31, 2018 - 4:41pm

Intelligence is important. People skills are at least as important and generally more important if one wants to have impact on and/or lead an organization. Take it from someone who has been around the block for 30+ years. People want to deal with people they like and trust. Soft skills are paramount for promotion tot he highest levels. That's not to say that a 4.0 quant guy / gal with no soft skills won't do well. Surely they can, but they won't be leaders. Essentially that means they can have a nice JOB but that's where it will likely end. There not the ones making it to the C-Suite and making millions. Could they start their own quant based hedge fund? Sure. Do they? Not often as you still need to sell others on investing with you.

Dynamism, soft skills, and intelligence is a killer combination. You've all been around that type and it makes work fun.

Jul 31, 2018 - 10:32pm

I would point out (based on my experiences and observation), that social skills can often be learned later on in life. Actually, quite easily relative to other skill-sets (e.g. I don't think a quant-jock will up and be the artistic, creative-type later on in life and vice-versa)

For instance, looking back at some of my high-school classmates some of these guys had trouble simply talking to a girl, let alone getting a GF. Now they're married with several kids.

Now, I do realize that some will always be introverted and less socially inclined, but I suspect a good amount of them end up developing some social, managerial, and leadership skills when put in a role that exposes them to it. Their careers still may be limited but nowhere near as much as may be initially thought.

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Aug 1, 2018 - 12:57am

This is a good post. I was basically this person when I finished undergrad. Not a complete social retard by any means (played team sports, joined a frat, etc.), but I was certainly shy/awkward at 21.

Grad school was always a matter of when for me (from a family where everyone has advanced degrees lol). I decided last minute to graduate a year early and not go straight into grad school, so I scrambled to find a job. My grades led to decent interviews, though I struggled to convert my interviews into offers. I ended up taking the first job I was offered in order to avoid moving home. It was shitty and didn't pay very well. Fortunately, I've made my way into a pretty good spot since then.

My soft skills have definitely improved a ton since undergrad. Now, I'm comfortable giving presentations, running meetings, etc. I think some of it is simply practicing on the job and some just due to being older/more mature.

Long story short, I agree with the poster above in that some of these people will surprise you when they really start to hit their strides a bit later on. Some others are totally fucking hopeless, though.

Dec 22, 2019 - 10:17am

Interesting comment. Although banking and trading certainly inolve finance, many people (especially professionals) consider finance to be Corproate Finance where the lane of finance is used to actually run the ocmpany. Today's CFOs are much more than bean countng accountants. They have morphed into the strategic business partner of the CEO, many of them becoming CEOs themselves. They make the critical business decisions based on data, strategy, etc. The bankers are ultimately just their vendors. They actually rely more heavily on the in depth due diligence advisory teams they hire.

Don't misunderstand, the CFOs I know have many great banking relationships and use them frequently as capital access option (always other options). But that's just one piece of the corporate finance world.

Aug 7, 2018 - 12:31pm

A lot of kids I went to school with that "did everything right" and were all about getting that 4.0 ended up in good jobs but not the best jobs they could have gotten. Settling, more or less. For at least a few of them, it was because they were saddled with girlfriends who they promptly married after graduating.

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Aug 7, 2018 - 1:36pm

I feel like the whole "low gpa = high social iq and vice versa is just a cop out for kids who did poorly. The majority of kids I know through banking/internships that graduated with a gpa in the ballpark of 4.0 also have high social iq. I'd imagine this becomes a very different story when you start talking about quants.

Aug 7, 2018 - 1:52pm

3.9 is Smart
4.0 is autistic to the level where you never once missed (chose not to do) a single assignment due to drinking with friends / spending extra time with the missus, otherwise enjoying other hobbies.

Aug 7, 2018 - 2:56pm

That can be true, but there are certainly smart kids who aren't driven, dont know what banking is in college, got into drugs, came from poor schools, etc... that have a high social iq and low gpa. Also, there are definitely 4.0 kids who struggle socially (I can think of a few from college who you couldnt hold a conversation with). It may be a "cop out" on your path and with your goals, but its not unusual at all. I would say that I was generally one of those kids growing up and really turned things around professionally and have become semi-successful (noting that success is relevant).

Actually a guy I went to high school with who was one of the smart (high gpa) and very high social iq guys that I had ever met ODed and died at like 25.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy
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Aug 7, 2018 - 4:01pm

Every industry, to some extent or another, requires knowledge somewhere in its organization. At banks they need people who understand how things are structured, operational hurdles, KYC/AML requirements, etc. At law firms they need people who understand the letter of the law, what is possible/not, what is advisable/not for a client (think tax law, where there are complex right/wrong answers). In fast food they need experts on food handling and storage, and preparation procedures/equipment. In engineering, they need experts on process design, six sigma, etc.

In my experience, despite the need for knowledge in any organization, the majority of highest-tier workers (the partner-level class) are nonetheless not knowledge experts, but relationship-experts. To use law firms as an example: a white-shoe firm with hundred(s) of partners only needs one guy that is an absolute 4.0GPA level expert on Cayman tax law. This is the guy that the other partners consult with on what is the "correct answer" when a client asks. However for every one of him, there are 30 other partners whose job is to develop and maintain relationships with F500 executives, and others in the business world who are likely to spend money on the knowledge guy's tax advice.

You need to consider what sort of knowledge you're gaining as part of your "intelligent but no social skills" curriculum, and how valuable it is. This means evaluating how replaceable you are, and how in-demand your knowledge is. If you literally wrote the rules on a type of Cayman tax law, you might be okay hanging your professional hat on the notion that your expertise will always be unique, and therefore valued.

If you're just another six sigma blackbelt, you will likely hit a ceiling in your career at the point where you lose out to the guy with knowledge equal to yours, and a superior ability to win clients.

I think the knowledge/social skills dichotomy is a false one, and the honest answer is that there are few roles in the world where you can really achieve your potential while sacrificing one or the other. You can be the brainiest guy in the world, but if you cannot convince another human being of the value of your knowledge, how are you going to sell that knowledge? Even in "non-profit" contexts like academia, you will ascend to a level where the inability to navigate the politics of power becomes an impediment to your success.

Consider joining toastmasters or something and practice up. It's not rocket science!


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Aug 7, 2018 - 10:16pm

I have attended a few toastmaster events with my friend (who tried to recruit me, I had mentioned to him he was wasting his time). I realized as more and more he attended the events, he started to become better at communication and public speaking at their meetings.

To note, there were a few VP's that attended the meetings and my friend had gotten a new job through one of them.

I believe that once you hit the 2 year mark in a job, you are at a level where it is hard to replace you. However, majority of the career folks I know leave their organizations at the 3-4 year mark, to go to a different position (higher pay, etc.).

I'd agree with you that we all must "sell" our knowledge-expertise on a subject we are all striving to do in terms of labor/work. The references you make strongly reminds of me Real Estate Agents. People whom I know who sold their homes went with an agent they could "trust" to get the job done. Majority of these agents received a lot of free referrals to their future clients to sell their current and/or help buy their next home.

No pain no game.

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