Recruiting 4

Why is it that GPA doesn't matter for jobs and engineering recruiting? Doesn't that represent mastery of material? Funnily enough I'm not doing too well in CIS 120 and CIS 160 because I have such a tough schedule but I really like programming and the problems we do in 160. I just wish I had more time to practice and actually do the work.

I think this is more of a CIS phenomenon more than a general engineering trend. Most of the stuff that we do in the classroom isn't really indicative of what industry is looking for from you, so even if you don't find that you're excelling with classroom material, that doesn't truly represent your potential on the job, and recruiters know that. I was in a similar boat as you, with CIS 160 especially, and if you find yourself enjoying the material then I think you're doing just fine.  

CIS Intro Track first semester is definitely a grind, and you'll have plenty more semesters to continue mastering software engineering. I personally found CIS 121 way more enjoyable than 120 and 160 because the application of the material was built into the core of the course. It gets easier as you go through the system :)

Zesty Zebra, 2:55 PM, November 25th 2019

For Penn Labs, as an applicant developer next semester, do I need to know JavaScript and how to use the Git Control System/Github, etc.?

Depends on what role you're applying for, for web frontend you definitely need to know JavaScript and React, but there are different standards for each team (Platform: Python and Django; Android: Kotlin; iOS: Swift). The team leads are mostly looking at your technical skill; Git / Github are easy to teach once you're onboarded. Feel free to email me at for more info :)

Zesty Zebra, 2:50 PM, Nov 25, 2019

Do I need an internship my Freshman summer?

You certainly don't need an internship during your post-freshman summer. That could be a good time to rest after your first year away from home and adjusting to a new and often intense place. You could travel. Or take a class. Study abroad! At Penn, most students definitely do feel the need to apply and select an internship. But keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with whatever you choose to do, and there are so many options!

The Signal made an awesome data project about this very issue: You can see the different paths students have taken during their years at Penn, and hopefully you find that you have a lot of options with what you can do with your summer.

Perky Puffin, April 8 2019 3:45 PM

Wanted to emphasize that it's 100% okay not to have some amazing internship; freshman summer will be one of the few left where you can do fun things that you want! It's totally Penn culture to believe that everyone has an internship when in reality it's totally uncommon at almost every other school. Spend time discovering what you like, and then maybe work on the skills you need to build before applying to internships the years after!

Chunky Chipmunk, April 8 2019 8:10 PM

Is it worth taking a full course load (5-6 classes) during OCR?

So, I made the poor decision of taking 5.5 credits (6 classes the first half of the semester) during Junior Fall, the OCR/recruiting semester for most people at Penn. I was mainly applying for a ton of consulting internships, some marketing ones, and tech ones as well (but tech recruiting for non-engineering roles is not really that present on-campus... email me if you have more questions about that).

Anyhow, like many other upperclassmen say, I'd treat preparing for interviews, job fairs, networking events, etc. during Junior Fall as a full 1.0 credit class. It takes a lot of time... I stretched myself way too thin. I would have interviews in the OCR suite in McNeil Building or in Center City (where a lot of consulting companies' offices are located) in the early morning during Mon-Thurs before all my classes for the day, then have superdays a.k.a. final round interviews on Fridays (some of which required traveling to other cities). Added to my extracurricular club commitments and basically 6 classes, I was so tired every day. It even led to a somewhat serious health problem.

If I could go through Junior Fall again, I'd only take 4 classes. Please do yourself a favor and take care of yourself in this way.

Wallowing Whale, April 7, 2019 1:06PM

Seconding the post above – although I'll add that it definitely depends on what you're applying for! Consulting and banking/finance roles are going to be a lot more intense with interviews and networking, which take a ton of time away from classes and your free time.

Fall '17, I was conflicted between different industries, but also signed up for 5.5 CU (including CIS classes). I ended up at one point doing an interview on one day, taking late days for an assignment and finishing it on a cross-country flight that night, and getting four hours of sleep before an interview the next morning (didn't do well on the assignment; didn't get the job).

I'll add that sometimes, while you might want to err on the cautious side, you don't have that option due to graduation/requirements (been there done that ew), so in that case I'd recommend looking ahead at the syllabi and being aware of:

  • Midterms in the same week across classes
  • Projects and checkins
  • Assignment schedules and overlaps, late days (ENG), etc.

It also doesn't hurt to take a class pass-fail, or intentionally take "easier" classes – I signed up for a pass-fail gen-ed and an easier core class this past fall, knowing I'd have to take a higher courseload to graduate!

Bovine Bear, April 7 2019, 1:19 PM