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job advice for a new graduate

Hi,

I was supposed to graduate this past semester, but I didn't get a passing grade in my last Electrical Engineering course.  On the same day that I got my grade, I also got a job offer from a company that I interviewed with earlier this month.  They gave me the option of either starting at the end in a few weeks or possibly in april.

My question is how should I go about telling the company about this?  Should I just tell them I want to postpone the start date till spring without telling them about my new graduation date?  Or should I tell be completely honest and explain my situation?

So I guess the subject is a little misleading as it has to do with not graduating :).  Oh yeah, my GPA really isn't very good to begin with.  It is below a 3.0.  I'm not sure if that makes a difference.  And the job is in software engineering, so the material from the EE course isn't applicable to my new job.

Any thoughts you all have would be great as I'm really new to the world of employment and I just have no idea how the company will take the news.

happy holidays to you all and your families.

joblost
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Casll up the hiring manager and tell him directly and honestly.

anon
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I can advise you on this because I am a student who just passed out , but had 3 year work experience. I have seen lots and lots of cases like yours. Dozens.

Let us get to the bottomline first
1)You want the job
2)You need to be honest

I have a suspicion they may not care about your degree, especially because you are in a different field. If they ask you, inform them that your new "official" graduation date is postponed. Dont tell them any reason. But if they ask, try to wriggle out of it without being dishonest. Simply tell them that you have one more subject to pass.

You have not written whether you can work with a subject in balance. I hope you can. But remember, if they question too closely or they seem very particular about your degree certificate, tell them the details.  If they just ask for the degree certificate, ask them whether you can give it in april.
I think most software companies wont give a damn.

A better  option for you is to tell them that due to unavoidable reasons, your graduation is postponed till April. Tell them that its some personal problem. Chances are they wont ask. Or Tell them that there is one absolutely great subject you had to study because its useful to you later on. Tell them your professor wants you to take the course. What you actually do is to register for some other class  by simply sitting through it. In Purdue, they used to call this "auditing"

It does not make sense to lose the job. Being "utterly honest" can be self defeating. You would not want them to have a bad opinion of you before you start.

Bottomline: Try to find a way in which you can be both honest  as well as  retain the job and not tell them that you flunked. But if they ask pointedly, be honest and tell them. Make a few enquiries first. ask them whether its ok if you show them your graduation certificate in april and  whether you can join in april. Just casually ask them rather than pointedly. Then come to your decision. But remember, NEVER lie. If they find out, you will be kicked out of the company

Programmer
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Its too late now. But dont post queries like this on a public forum giving all your details. How do you know that someone in your company is not reading this?

Programmer
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

We had two individuals in my company start but still require one course to graduate.  They informed the company that they had a final requirement to complete before their official graduation and that they intended to complete it at night and on weekends.  They assured everyone that it would not affect their work.

They did, it didn't, and we just had a party.

Lou
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

"But dont post queries like this on a public forum giving all your details."

Yes.  From now on, express your messages more like so:

I'm a person who's having a dilemma.  People did things, and I didn't do other things well, so now I'm wondering if I should tell certain people about certain things.  Your thoughts?  :)


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I agree with the others that you should tell them your graduation has been delayed a semester because you have to take one more class to graduate.

Likely they will not ask the details. If they do, tell them what happened: "It's an EE class in transistor physics and I'm embarassed to say I failed the class." At this point, they'll probably say "Yeah, that transistor physics is a hard one."

Whatever you do, don't give up on the degree. You HAVE to get the degree. If your grades are low, I assume you are not a superstar developer. There's nothing wrong with that, few people are superstars. But in the case of an ordinary non-superstar guy, it's especially critical that you have a degree to show that you are a hardworker who is able to follow through.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

"If your grades are low, I assume you are not a superstar developer"

Really a *very* bad assumption.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

hen my present company hired me, I was one summer away from graduation. I got hired anyways and finished the degree in summer. And yeah, my GPA was a hair off 4.0 :)

Floridian
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

hen-->When. Oopss...

Floridian
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

It's an assumptiion that is generally true, if not specifically. Thus I said 'I assume you are not' and gave advice based on that assumption. That's different from saying 'cleary it is a fact that therefore you are certainly not'. It's considered a normal use of letters and email and situations where one is not face to face to state the assumptions before giving the advice. That way, if the assumptions don't hold, the person need not take the advise.

Even so, even for a superstar, a degree can be helpful in his path towards being recognized as a superstar.

I know superstarts with great grades and superstars with adequate grades. I can't off hand think of too many superstars with poor grades.

did you know that Einstein did well in college and that the stories of him being a dropout and a underachiever are false? I do believe that that myth gives comfort to many though.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

"One oft-repeated myth suggests that Albert Einstein, as a schoolboy, was poor at arithmetic. "On the contrary, he was quite good at it," says Stein. But when he was a pupil his school inverted the grading system, making a high grade a low one. Anyone looking at Einstein's report card not knowing this would conclude that Einstein was poor in math."

-- from review of Sherman Stein's "Strength in Numbers: Discovering the Joy and Power of Mathematics in Everyday Life" (John Wiley & Sons, 1996). [review at http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/go/gizmo/gentry.html]

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Another vote for just telling them that you need one additional class and that you plan on not letting that class interfere with the new job.


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Dennis, are you a EE? I don't recall.

Getting bad grades in EE is *normal*. Then factor in that superstar developers tend to be overachievers, and compound the lack of maturity that generally comes with being college age, and you get someone who has the desire to scale Mount Everest every semester without the self-awareness to realize one's own limits. Add in mind-altering math and physics.

Net result: low grades. ;-)

*Finishing* a EE degree makes someone a top-1%er. Grades should only be a curiosity. (and for that matter, if someone gets a 4.0 in EE, be wary as to why they're applying at your company if you're not a Fortune 50 or a research center...)

I'm not saying low grades in EE make one great, either. I'm simply saying that in general, if you're looking for someone in for the long haul, look for *finishing* an engineering degree, and don't worry too much about the grades. Recognize that you're going to have to do some mentoring and leadership, and evaluate your coder as time goes by.

My $.02, anyway.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

How about this for comfort.

Richard Feynman didn't qualify for MENSA.  And his sister beat him by 1 point.  Something like 125 to 124.


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

They've already given you the option of deferring your start so you don't need to tell them all the details.

There are occasions when people DON'T want to know all the details, and this is probably one of them. Some ways it might hurt you are that the manager of the hirer might have a different interpretation of the situation.

Just say you'll start in April and in the meantime you're finishing one of the courses or doing extra work or something.

me
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Alternatively, some schools have stuff in the rules exactly for your situation.

i.e. if you are a senior and flunked one required class, you may have the option of taking a profficency test or the like and still graduate.  Or talk to the prof, who may or may not be swayed to award you a D if you can show him/her in person that you really did understand the material.  (On the other hand, some profs delight in failing you, so that may go nowhere)

Not being honest tends to not bite you in the ass immediately, but much much much later, when it's far more devistating and embarrasing.  Like getting fired 10 years down the road or being publically exposed when you are a big name executive.  Stuff like that.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Pertinent to the subject of discussion, here's what Bill Gates had to say in an interview,

[QUOTE]
Q.  Do you regret not finishing college? 

A.  I quit college to start Microsoft, and I don't regret that. But I enjoyed college a lot, and I wish there had been time for me to finish.

When you hear success stories about people who quit college, it may be tempting to believe that education doesn't matter for the entrepreneurially minded. But unless a person has an idea that's very time-critical, and is concerned that he or she might never have as good an idea ever again, it's probably better to finish.

For one thing, it is unusual for a person to be taken seriously in business when he or she is very young. It is hard for a teenager to raise money and hire good people.

More importantly, college is full of lessons. Besides coursework, there is valuable learning outside the classroom during the college years.

Certainly having a degree can be critical for getting a desirable job later on,. For example, even though Microsoft was founded by a couple of college dropouts, it's pretty unusual for us to hire somebody for a key position who is interrupting his or her educational career.

[/QUOTE]

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/museum/BillGatesFAQ.doc

Besides, I recall an article by Dax Pandhi on VBWorld some years ago that...umm....here it goes...

http://www.developer.com/net/vb/article.php/1540171

Read Laryy Ellison's speech on Page 5 of this article.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Yeah Philo one my degrees is an EE.

Classes are tough and grades you get depend on the university - a C average at MIT is worth more than straight As at Podunk State College.

The way the OP presented it was to suggest that his academic record was poor. If it was the case that his grades were low but no different than anyone else in his program because it was so tough, I think he would have clarified that bit.

My point remains that most people aren't superstars who can claim that low grades and/or no degree are merely proof of their great genius. Thus, finishing a degree program is a good thing, especially since you seldom get asked about your class standing but you do get asked if you have a degree.

I'm not sure why you are opposed to my suggestion he be sure to finish his degree anyway.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

"If someone gets a 4.0 in EE, be wary as to why they're applying at your company if you're not a Fortune 50 or a research center..."

This must be the gazillionth time I've seen the implication that people with 4.0 averages from top notch universities should be regarded with suspicion. The implication being they must be bad at what they do or they why else would they have to be trying so hard. Frankly I find these suggestions absurd and pathetic as they suggest the person making them is threatened of competant or highly skilled coworkers.

Here's a question back? Why would someone who is a top achiever apply to a Fortune 50 company? I can't think of a more pathetic waste of a highly talented life than targetting the comfort and warmth of mother's teat, as is represented by a Fortune 50 position. All Fortune 50 companies are lacking innovation and growth. Same onld sameo old day after day. Same as getting a job working for the government. Now I understand why mediocre people want a safe secure government job but all the really top notch people I have met have either gon into business for themselves or have targetted obscure firms with exciting high risk projects that change the world.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Go visit the businessweek b-school forums.  Fortune 100 mgt. is still a very popular goal.  Nobody (?) wants to slave away as a coder/peasant in that type of company, but there's a lot of young MBAs-to-be that want to manage them.


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Some of the Ivy League colleges have a reputation for grade inflation.


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Dear blank,
                Perhaps you could say which ones, are is your evidence on a par with your signature?

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Dubya graduated with a B didn't he?  Nuff said.


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Blank probably means these articles:

http://www.google.com/search?q=ivy+league+grade+inflation

I didn't read them again; I read them before. If things haven't changed the Ivy Leagues feel that all their students are top notch and thus giving them all As is not a problem.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Ok I couldn't resist and peeked at them, here's a quote:

> Harvard University, for instance, came under sharp criticism for graduating 91 percent of the Class of 2001 with honors

MIT, CalTech, Stanford, U of Ill. and the other top notch engineering schools are the ones I am thinking of when I say Cs there are worth more than Cs at Podunk. I'm not talking about harvard. Does Harvard even have a school of engineering? I thought it was a divinity school...

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Dennis, my comment regarding 4.0 EE's is that (assuming we're talking an accredited EE degree) such a person is most likely a genius in some level of personality, and should be able to write their own ticket to anywhere they want to work.

Given that, all pride aside, most people gotta ask "why do you want to work *here*?"

At every job interview, I was asked why a lawyer is writing software. I have no problems with the question whatsoever - in fact I expected it, and those times I didn't get it, I got the feeling the interviewer skimmed my resume right before the interview. The question is really "are you just marking time here until you get a law firm job?" and IMHO it's a fair one.

It's not an issue of mistrust - it's one of ensuring both sides understand where they're standing in the relationship.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, December 25, 2003

And I didn't mean to imply that underperforming grades in EE are any kind of indicator either. I'm saying that grades in EE are no indicator whatsoever as to how that person will perform for you.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, December 25, 2003

I disagree. I think they are no guarantee because there are many exceptions, but the general principle is that hard workers tend to get decent marks. Another indicator of success is going to a really difficult university, majoring in an especially difficult subject, succeeding in school despite having three majors and being employed doing road construction, lots of stuff. Saying there is absolutely no connection is just plain wrong. Yeah, there are exceptions that prohibit absolute guarantees. But no correlation whatsoever? Dream on!

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 25, 2003

Check it out Philo, your boss Bill is notorious for making a habit of personally phoning the top graduates at several well known top engineering schools and personally asking them to consider working for microsoft. Is Bill just wasting his time here? is he a total retard? Or does ho know something - that top students at top schools make excellent hiring candidates.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 25, 2003

I'm not your research staff.  It's an easy google to find out about Ivy league grade inflation.

Go ahead.  Try it. 

Screw it.  I know you're too fricking lazy:

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=Ivy+league+grade+inflation

What if I called myself "David Jones"
Thursday, December 25, 2003

So when you presented your thesis you didn't bother to present any sources; you just told the prof to stop being fricking lazy and go and do a Google Search?

I suppose if you still passed it's a promafacie case of grade inflation.

Actually the top entries aren't accurately summed up by your one liner: "Some of the Ivy League colleges have a reputation for grade inflation. "

The artioles suggest that Gtade Inflation is standard throughout American universities; the Ivy League is only mentioned because they give the highest grades, but as you have to be pretty bright to get in in the first place this doesn't mean grade inflation is higher there than elsewhere.

Incidentally I don't know what grade Bush got, but he got his degree at the beginning of the period under consideration so an inappropriately high grade doesn't back up grade inflation, and anyway am I the only one that feels you need a minimum of  talent to become elected President of the US?

Stephen Jones
Thursday, December 25, 2003

Sorry prima facie case. Never took 001 typing!

Stephen Jones
Thursday, December 25, 2003

I know it's fun to take an extreme position and defend it to the death, but the truth can often be found somewhere in the middle.

Grades are significant.  They are not the whole story.

Cognitive Dissonance
Thursday, December 25, 2003

I don't dismiss people who have excellent GPAs from good schools as cheaters.  However, I tend to be extra-rough on them with the interviewing process to make sure that they are really that smart, or if they are just good at regurgitating stuff.

I lived with someone who had a 4.0 in CS.  He did nothing but study and one or two selected projects.  I would never want to work with him because he was obnoxious and a poor team player (especially as an underling).  I also felt that he wasn't necessarily smarter than I was, he was just far more focused than I ever could be.

Flamebait Sr.
Thursday, December 25, 2003

Don't be a moron.  This isn't college and you aren't my professor and it seems everybody _except_ you has heard or read about Ivy grade inflation.

You want my sources about whether the sun will come up tomorrow?

What if I called myself "David Jones"
Thursday, December 25, 2003

All I'm trying to address is your implication that someone with a low GPA who actually does receive a BSEE in general isn't going to be a superstar. I'm saying that I think there's zero correlation between low grades in EE and superstar ability as a coder.

Smart - finished the program
Gets things done - finished the program

Philo

Philo
Thursday, December 25, 2003

Well it looks like we've simply arrived at a Mexican standoff then.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 25, 2003

Senior level solid state physics is a tough class.

Most "programmers" simply wouldn't pass, period.

dervish
Thursday, December 25, 2003

"my GPA really isn't very good to begin with" -- original poster

This discussion that has spun off isn't about the one he failed, it's about his low GPA in general probably means he's no superstar and thus finishing a degree is especially important in such a case, in my opinion. My opinion is not shared by anyone here though. The general consensus is that grades mean absolutely nothing, except that you should be suspicious and extra critical of those who have high achievement because there is clearly something wrong with them.

With attitudes like this, no wonder american engineering is in the shithole, the software you buy from the big corporations is total crapola, and when you call for customer support those guys know so little that we're better off hiring people overseas to answer teh phones because at least they have enough common sense to make intelligent guesses.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 25, 2003

"The general consensus is that grades mean absolutely nothing, except that you should be suspicious and extra critical of those who have high achievement because there is clearly something wrong with them."

You need to work on your logical analysis, or else stop twisting arguments to suit your agenda. ;)

My point is simply:
- Given someone who has completed an accredited BSEE degree, even a 2.1 does not indicate they are unlikely to be superstars. The amount and type of knowledge necessary to finish a BSEE means that someone who can simply finish the degree has the mental capacity and the the determination to be a top 1%-er in any company.

- Given the amount and type of knowledge necessary for a EE degree, then someone who can achieve a 4.0 is an exceptionally gifted individual. And if you're not working for Microsoft, Oracle, Rand, or other similiar high-profile companies, then if someone of that caliber applies, it's fair to ask why. Put it this way - if you got a resume from Chris Sells or Linus Torvalds, you wouldn't ask "okay, I've gotta ask - why here?"

I'm not saying you can't trust them - just that it's worth asking the question. *I* was asked it and never took offense - I thought it was perfectly fair.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, December 25, 2003

OK, sounds like you are repudiating your original statement:

"if someone gets a 4.0 in EE, be *wary* as to why they're applying at your company"

Which is fine by me, since I was wary of that statement.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, December 26, 2003

I think we're loosely in agreement now - you do seem to acknowledge that a top graduate in EE is especially talented and will do well anywhere, thus the correlation between grades and success is a positive number, not a negative number and not zero.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, December 26, 2003

I had an occasion where I was convinced to give a student a placement for their year out in their CS degree.  Naturally his continuing on the degree depended upon him passing the current year.

I discovered that he'd actually failed if not all the modules then enough to make it unlikely that he could continue on an honours degree.  I gave him the time and the opportunity to let me know this, he didn't.

So I fired him.

This was within a month of him starting and its the first and only time I've had to do that, always in the past there was something that could be done.

Simon Lucy
Friday, December 26, 2003

Dennis, my point the whole time, though I may not have expressed it well, is that the simple fact of completion of an accredited BSEE indicates a person has the potential to be a coding superstar, no matter what their GPA.

And to venture all the way back to the beginning, where you said
"If your grades are low, I assume you are not a superstar developer."

I still say that statement is inaccurate on its face. IMHO, "if you have a BSEE, no matter what your grades are, you have the potential to be a superstar developer."

Philo

Philo
Friday, December 26, 2003

"you do seem to acknowledge that a top graduate in EE is especially talented and will do well anywhere"

I wouldn't acknowledge that.  I would acknowledge that they are probably extremely intelligent and can do well in a number of places - MS springs to mind.  But there's so much more involved in having a successful career besides sheer brainpower. 

Every joke has a kernel of truth:  We all end up working for the guy that carried a 2.0 throughout undergrad business school.

First of all most coding jobs don't require heavy brainpower.  Secondly, most jobs require more teamwork and interpersonal communication skills than brainpower. 

I've worked in imaging, a very short stint in data processing, and now 3D graphics.  I've worked with CS PhDs, EEs, MIS majors, vo-tech graduates and people that went to work right out of high school. 

I've only worked in a few places, but so far my experience has been that level or type of education doesn't have much of a bearing on coding ability. 


Friday, December 26, 2003

"you do seem to acknowledge that a top graduate in EE is especially talented and will do well anywhere"

I also dispute this quite strongly. I also have worked in many environments at all levels, technical and management. I have worked with a lot of "top" EE's.

I've actually found that I'm a bit suspicious of their capability, unless they're PhD's. I've found that high-mark EE's are mind numbingly narrow, often seem to have used test-handling techniques to get their scores and can't adapt well to broader problems.

Top science graduates aren't like that. Top economics and humanities graduates naturally aren't like that.

me
Friday, December 26, 2003

I think it's because the EE curriculum is so cluttered that only those without other interests get high marks.

me
Friday, December 26, 2003

"Plastics."

Jorel on Software
Friday, December 26, 2003

Dear list,

Please help me with advise. I applied for an engineering job and was hired and supposed to start as soon as I graduated. But in the meantime something terrible has happened - I have graduated with a 4.0 GPA and top honors from CalTech! I admit this is partly me own fault - I was so busy designing projects that I didn't bother to open those report cards they sent me at the end of every semester. Now I am in big trouble.

Here is my question -- should I tell the boss at the new place about this and risk him firing me, or s hould I just keep quiet and hope they don't find out.

Shy Student
Friday, December 26, 2003

Dear Student,

What can I say, As hire As, Bs hire Cs and Cs hire Ds. Since you imply your boss is not an A, there is not much hope for you. I would tell them and let them dismiss you and then go work for a real firm. Don't tell me, the first gig was working on business apps. Not a real brain stretcher there and you'd be unhappy at a company made up of retards and social rejects anyway. Go work at a real company and not with a bunch of lame asses!

Career Advisor
Friday, December 26, 2003

Shy Student -
Accept the job, and be happy with your prospects. I trust when you get the aforementioned phone call from Bill Gates (or Larry Ellison, or IBM, or Intel) offering you three times the money to play with the newest technology in the world, you'll tell them "Thank you, but I've already accepted an offer to be a junior web developer at Flotsam & Jetsam, Inc."

Realist
Friday, December 26, 2003

"First of all most coding jobs don't require heavy brainpower."

But aspiring superstars won't look to be employed in "most coding jobs", and if you hire someone you think is a superstar, you shouldn't give them work that is like "most coding jobs".

T. Norman
Friday, December 26, 2003

That's all fine & dandy T. Norman, but there's more superstars than there are superstar type jobs available.

there you go
Friday, December 26, 2003

"there's more superstars than there are superstar type jobs available"

that seems endemic to all fields. 

SCM guy
Friday, December 26, 2003

i.e. there's a lot of underemployed people in the workforce.  always has been.

SCM guy
Friday, December 26, 2003

Shy Student -

Have you considered the food service industry?

Cognitive Dissonance
Saturday, December 27, 2003

Yes, I am thinking I will have to work either at McDonalds or at WalMart. What was I thinking when I studied hard and did well! If only I got terrible grades, then I could be a superstar developer like my hero Philo!

Ekonimisist
Saturday, December 27, 2003

Ah damn I revealed my secret identity.

Shy Student/Ekonimisist
Saturday, December 27, 2003

Never post while drunk.

Shy Student/Ekonimisist
Saturday, December 27, 2003

"Never post while drunk."

Good advice.  But if we took you up on it, half these threads would be empty.

Cognitive Dissonance
Sunday, December 28, 2003

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