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Myth or reality: Will a low CGPA destroy your career?

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    If you thought your parents, annoying aunties, and your cat would stop caring about your results once you start university, you have probably suffered quite a blow when those first semester grades got published. While many of your friends were boasting their 3 point something CGPA, you were just trying to grasp how the semester flew by, with your 2 point something on the grade sheet. But really, does it matter? Let us take on this question without going the nihilistic route. 

    Your cumulative grade point average indicates how well you have aced your academics and how dedicated you have been all throughout.

    "CGPA may be a factor for short-listing candidates from the primary pool of applicants. But if you can prove that you have value and quality in spite of having a low CGPA, you can quite easily bag the job," says Sanjida Islam, a BBA graduate from North south university.

    CGPA thus acts as a bonus in jobs as such, but it may not always be the case.

    According to Johan Ahmed from IBA, DU, "Your career requires long term thinking. So it is necessary to understand whether CGPA affects your first job. A low CGPA may at most make you ineligible to apply to some organizations. But the number of such organizations is not many. Once you get a job by the virtue of your CGPA, the rest depends entirely on your job performance. So, unless you have a very low CGPA, say, below 2.7, almost all doors are open for you."

    However, even to this day when there's an evident need for increased emphasis on extra-curriculars besides academics, there still exists a handful that conceptualise high CGPA as a gateway to a bright career.

    HR manager and head hunter at Magnum Management Consulting, Sharmili Rowshan Kabir, offered her two cents on this saying, "Given how we receive CVs of C-suite executives with low CGPAs, this is not true at all. But it certainly does have an impact at the start of your career. Most coveted jobs and MNCs have a cut-off CGPA of 3.3 to 3.5. As such, individuals with such CGPAs are highly sought after, particularly by local companies, after they have gathered 4-5 years' experience in MNCs. If you have a good CGPA, you are eligible to apply to good organizations with high cut-off to help you to stay ahead of the game."

    Nooha Sabanta Maula, a recent Anthropology graduate from BRAC, says, "I do not think CGPA matters at all. Employers are more interested in knowing how you can contribute to their organisation. Obviously, having a CGPA bordering on the probation limit wouldn't be wise either. A low CGPA, say below 3, will be an issue if you're looking for a scholarship abroad. However, with a good score on GRE/GMAT and with some good work experience, it can be managed."

    Moving on to a BSc. graduate, Afifa Tabassum Tinni, Assistant Professor at BUET, opines, "If there are candidates with the same degree, background, and interview performance, then employers tend to look at the result. It isn't true when they say "CGPA doesn't matter", and it also isn't true that you don't need any other skills if you have a good CGPA."

    Dyuty Auronee, an IBA graduate working at Unilever HR offers a different insight. "There's a lot of grey area here as it differs from job to job, and from person to person. People might think that you can 'compensate' for a low CGPA with ECAs but they are honestly there to sharpen you, not to compensate for any lack of sincerity you show in your studies. There's still the other side. I've seen a 3.5 beat a valedictorian with a 3.9 in recruitment tests because the exams of MNCs and even some locals go beyond CGPA to test your abilities in case solving, presentations, teamwork etc."

    It is true that sometimes vocational knowledge impacts the employers' decision. Saleh Ahmed, a BAT employee gives his take on this by saying, "There are two schools of thought regarding the significance of your CGPA. One says that low CGPA means low sincerity. If an individual couldn't be sincere to his studies, how will he be sincere to the job?

    The other train goes by saying CGPA doesn't signify any parameter of job performance. As a marketing graduate myself, I would say this field is very dynamic given how it assigns low importance to CGPA by compensating it with a graduate's other accomplishments. I've seen people selling business competitions and even football skills in final interviews of marketing jobs."

    Irfan Ahmed Sadib, senior officer at Standard Chartered Bank, offered quite a unique perspective, "I've seen how often, a CGPA of 3.8+ or so scares the HR officers away. They think the candidate will surely leave for higher studies or a better paying job, and they actually do. My advice to you would be to not just study 24/7. In real life, how you manage to stand in front of your boss and talk like a real professional matters the most. Build and market yourself in a way that even you'd want to hire yourself."

    At the end of the day, what you want to do after finishing undergrads in entirely up to you. While you might not be able to apply for masters if your CGPA is embarrassingly low, you would probably still get a pretty good job, and work your way up from there.

    Eshanee is a sophomore at IBA, DU. 


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