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Old 23.01.2023, 01:24
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How important are university grades?

Good evening,

Here I am with another question.
I am doing my Master's at HSG and I would like to get some part-time working student jobs (relevant to my field) during my studies, because I value work experience higher than academic achievements. However, I saw some job ads for fresh graduates that required a minimum GPA of 5.3.

Is this the norm, or most places don't put too much weight on the grades? (Mostly interested in banks, CS, UBS, or insurance companies, etc.) Since working next to my degree will obviously lower my average, but I will gain other knowledge/experience that IMO offsets that, not sure what the recruiters stance is on this.

Appreciate all the replies/opinions on this matter!
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Old 23.01.2023, 09:56
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Re: How important are university grades?

In my career I was never asked about GPAs, actually I mainly see them discussed here on EF.

In Italy we were comparing our grades often, only to discover that nobody cares because degrees have legal value and any degree is a degree.
In Switzerland I was only asked once about my transcript of records, but no requirement was listed in the job ad. The sectors I have touched are physics, engineering, IT, health industry. Your specific sector (finance) might be different, my example contributes to the "general context".

I was also working during studies, at some point I had to quit because it was becoming incompatible with the thesis work, but I totally not regret having done it. If you find something that has some value to you, please find some time for it
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Old 23.01.2023, 10:00
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Re: How important are university grades?

Banking and insurance have been on the way down for at least a decade now as a result of the economic situation and mismanagement means itís very cost conscious and very competitive. So you can expect that there will be fewer positions on offer and more graduates chasing them.

When you are tasked with trying to select graduates to join your company you want to get the smartest people in the pool, so you filter by grades and is also a task you can assign to a junior. And in any case your bit of experience is not going to count for much. Hire smart people and give them a couple of months and there is very little difference except youíll have smarter bums on seats.

Bottom line, if you donít want to be filtered out from the best positions make sure you have very good grades because looking at other elements such as your experience will only come after that.
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Old 23.01.2023, 10:03
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Re: How important are university grades?

I worked for an international investment bank, however I came in at a senior level, not as a graduate. I was never asked about my grades.

However, I was involved in managing a portion of one of our graduate schemes, and I was surprised to note that grads were asked to justify their grades if they weren't deemed high enough.

Just another one of those unfortunate 'perks' of coming in as a grad. Good luck to you.
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Old 23.01.2023, 10:18
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Re: How important are university grades?

My boss has no idea what grades I had and probably doesnt even know what I studied back in the day. The more work experience you have, the less important will your degree become. At your stage is not just the work experience, but also the personal connections you can make during these jobs worth more than the hourly pay. I got my first job after graduation through a internship I did in my undergraduate years. While others had to apply dozens of times and were frustrated finding that first job did I write exactly one application...

I did what you are looking at and tried everything to make some work experience to "fill up" an empty CV. I personally dont agree that working a part time job will necessarily lower your scores that much... but: Why not give it a try and see how it goes? I had one job that affected my studies too much... so I quit it. Another one was fine.
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Old 23.01.2023, 10:21
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Re: How important are university grades?

I too came in at a reasonably senior level and they didnít ask about my grades, or my degrees. Which was a good thing Ö
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Old 23.01.2023, 10:35
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Re: How important are university grades?

In many professions it really does count when looking for your first career move after Uni. As Jim2007 said, UBS in one such employer, however there are many other top-tier companies in banking and re-insurance for example and other professions that look at them closely as well. And that since decades.

It doesn’t make any difference once you have valuable career experience under your belt.

Many students manage work throughout their studies and still achieve this. One good way of doing this is by getting for example a summer internship at a company in a branch that interests you. A good way of identifying these are by visiting the usual career fairs held at he Unis.

My daughter did this, and interned at a really great company a couple of summers. They contacted her before leaving Uni after her masters, having excellent grades, and asked her if she would like to work for them. She’s been there, very happily, since over 3 years now and plans a career there. Some of her friends were searching for quite a while, had to make all the necessary applications etc., and ended up being in a position they weren’t happy with.

Good luck!
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Old 23.01.2023, 10:50
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Re: How important are university grades?

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In many professions it really does count when looking for your first career move after Uni. As Jim2007 said, UBS in one such employer, however there are many other top-tier companies in banking and re-insurance for example and other professions that look at them closely as well. And that since decades.

It doesnít make any difference once you have valuable career experience under your belt.

I work in a different field (sci/tech) since many years and am now occasionally involved in hiring. Having a distinction such as "graduated with high honours"=high gpa definitely helps at the beginning of your career, but at least for me, afterwards the job experience, letters of recommendation, and interview mean more.
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Old 23.01.2023, 11:15
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Re: How important are university grades?

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I worked for an international investment bank, however I came in at a senior level, not as a graduate. I was never asked about my grades.

However, I was involved in managing a portion of one of our graduate schemes, and I was surprised to note that grads were asked to justify their grades if they weren't deemed high enough.

Just another one of those unfortunate 'perks' of coming in as a grad. Good luck to you.
Just as a side-note, they will have course seen from the Diploma in your CV documentation whether you graduated the (UK) equivalent of summa cum laude (excellent), "magna cum laude" (very good), "cum laude" (good) or "rite" (sufficient).

But fully agree that it doesn’t make any difference once you come in at a more senior position / have established good experience.
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Old 23.01.2023, 11:37
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Re: How important are university grades?

i always found that each level of training was just a stepping stone to get to the next one.

e.g. GCSEs were needed to take A-Levels, which were needed to get to University, which was needed to get a job. on the job, you might take professional qualifications, and then you trade on your experience and reputation.

each previous step basically fell away and became irrelevant. when i hire, the CV might be useful to build a picture e.g. obvious when you get a straight A student who has been so through their entire life, but the relevant experience and personal qualities is most important, not what they might have studied a few decades ago.
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Old 23.01.2023, 12:58
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Re: How important are university grades?

The thing is that once you are a few years into your profession the degree does not matter so much unless there is a regulatory requirement. But the problem is to get to the point you have to land the first entry job and that does require the good grades etc.... to get you in the running for the top grad positions.
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Old 23.01.2023, 13:36
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Re: How important are university grades?

This, exactly.
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Old 23.01.2023, 14:32
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Re: How important are university grades?

Grades are important for a first job. After a couple of year working, nobody cares anymore. After 10-20 years working, nobody even cares about your education anymore.
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Old 23.01.2023, 15:49
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Re: How important are university grades?

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nobody even cares about your education anymore.
there are some notable cultural differences: e.g. being from an elite school in France, maybe OxBridge still carries weight etc.

sometimes these cultural impacts can come back to bite you. e.g. i know of one case where a french guy did well in a US company until another french guy got made his boss - when he found out he didn't come from an elite french school, he basically looked down on him and fired him.

then there is the case of indian IT workers who do well in the US. esp. those maybe lower castes such as Dalits where they can thrive without the baggage of their caste. at least until an Indian boss of a higher class gets made their boss...
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Old 23.01.2023, 15:57
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Re: How important are university grades?

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Banking and insurance have been on the way down for at least a decade now as a result of the economic situation and mismanagement means itís very cost conscious and very competitive. So you can expect that there will be fewer positions on offer and more graduates chasing them.

When you are tasked with trying to select graduates to join your company you want to get the smartest people in the pool, so you filter by grades and is also a task you can assign to a junior. And in any case your bit of experience is not going to count for much. Hire smart people and give them a couple of months and there is very little difference except youíll have smarter bums on seats.

Bottom line, if you donít want to be filtered out from the best positions make sure you have very good grades because looking at other elements such as your experience will only come after that.

I understand that it's competitive, but in my opinion just the GPA doesn't say much. Let's say between 2 candidates, one has a GPA of 5.3 the other has 5.1, while having 1 extra year of work experience. Would companies really value the 5.3GPA more? Also some degrees are harder to complete than others, so the same GPA in 2 different degrees is not equal to each other.
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Old 23.01.2023, 15:59
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Re: How important are university grades?

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there are some notable cultural differences: e.g. being from an elite school in France, maybe OxBridge still carries weight etc.

sometimes these cultural impacts can come back to bite you. e.g. i know of one case where a french guy did well in a US company until another french guy got made his boss - when he found out he didn't come from an elite french school, he basically looked down on him and fired him.

then there is the case of indian IT workers who do well in the US. esp. those maybe lower castes such as Dalits where they can thrive without the baggage of their caste. at least until an Indian boss of a higher class gets made their boss...
You can have similar effects in Switzerland. Since the OP opens every thread with "I am doing my masters at HSG": The school is famous for its strong network into the Swiss financial sector. However, I would not milk the name too much. I have experienced first hand how some Swiss guys well into their 30s and 40s had to repeatedly mention their alma mater during the first time I met them. I've recently been to a business event where the presenter opened a speech in front of 200 people with "I joined the company just after graduating from... HSG". Cool that you got into a good school, but if you have to bang on about it a decade after graduation... does that not make you look good. In my experience does this only happen with two schools here: HSG and ETH. If your colleague graduated there will he make sure you know the fact. Nobody else cares. I am sure the networks can be a benefit, but I think the mindset people seem to pick up there can also backfire...
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Old 23.01.2023, 16:08
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Re: How important are university grades?

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I understand that it's competitive, but in my opinion just the GPA doesn't say much. Let's say between 2 candidates, one has a GPA of 5.3 the other has 5.1, while having 1 extra year of work experience. Would companies really value the 5.3GPA more? Also some degrees are harder to complete than others, so the same GPA in 2 different degrees is not equal to each other.
No. Very few companies are going to differentiate based on a .2 GPA difference. Some companies may have cut-offs, but that's different from your example.

HSG has a very good career services group. I recommend speaking with them directly.
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Old 23.01.2023, 16:13
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Re: How important are university grades?

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Since the OP opens every thread with "I am doing my masters at HSG":
I just thought it's relevant to my questions, didn't mean to come off as someone who cares too much about it, if I did then sorry
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Old 23.01.2023, 16:14
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Re: How important are university grades?

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No. Very few companies are going to differentiate based on a .2 GPA difference. Some companies may have cut-offs, but that's different from your example.

HSG has a very good career services group. I recommend speaking with them directly.
Thank you!
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Old 23.01.2023, 16:16
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Re: How important are university grades?

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You can have similar effects in Switzerland. Since the OP opens every thread with "I am doing my masters at HSG": The school is famous for its strong network into the Swiss financial sector. However, I would not milk the name too much. I have experienced first hand how some Swiss guys well into their 30s and 40s had to repeatedly mention their alma mater during the first time I met them. I've recently been to a business event where the presenter opened a speech in front of 200 people with "I joined the company just after graduating from... HSG". Cool that you got into a good school, but if you have to bang on about it a decade after graduation... does that not make you look good. In my experience does this only happen with two schools here: HSG and ETH. If your colleague graduated there will he make sure you know the fact. Nobody else cares. I am sure the networks can be a benefit, but I think the mindset people seem to pick up there can also backfire...
i getting to a prestigious school has some cachet. but if you have to harp on about it years afterwards, it sends the signal that you haven't achieved much since.
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