I was never a diligent student and was quite lazy. I loved computers so I pursued a BSC Hons in Computer Science. It was quite hard for me but I managed, but took five years, to complete a three year course with a not so decent GPA.

Though I have now changed a bit, I matured a little, I am not as lazy anymore. In the past two years, I grew an interest in Data Science. I learned skills on my own which I believe to be of value to the workplace. I want to learn more but I fear that my efforts will be wasted in trying to find work. So far I have not been successful landing a job.

So the question is what can an new entry into the workforce do to break into my field of study?

** Please note this is asking for advice on techniques to apply with any position I seek, not a how do I land a specific job, or for any specific skills that I should learn to get a new job

  • 1
    I have updated your question to be on topic. I think you have a good question here. We can not predict how successful you will be in your job search but we can help you with ways to help you land that first job despite your humble and less than stellar beginnings. Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 15:55
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    I was a lazy student, but with my team projects and internships I always preformed well. Did you do any internships at all? How did they go?
    – Jeroen
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 15:52
  • Did you ever work an internship? Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 15:55
  • Not yet. But my studies are coming to an end. The "five years" is ending this June. I will be applying for internships and jobs then. Sadly, few companies in my city offer data related internships. :/
    – Sanb_213
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 3:02

3 Answers 3


This is a tough obstacle to overcome.

I myself had the same issue in University (being lazy, producing substandard work, barely getting the requisite scores to pass my courses (and sometimes not even getting those minimum scores)). Unfortunately, upon graduating, I spent 6 fruitless months job searching before settling for a job out-of-field that did not care about my past academics or experiences (started pursuing BS in computer science, switch to BA in Economics, finished with a poor GPA, ended up working in the automotive sector as a 'programmer', where my actual duties range from software engineering to on-the-floor build and low-grade programming, with my pay averaging $10k/yr less than a 'qualified' person holding that same title).

I have had lots of time to think on what I should have done differently (over 5 years), and to research what would have been the smarter approach for me, given my poor GPA. The good news is, in any software/data science related field, you can produce a measureable product even without a job. The bad news is, if it's not perfect (or doesn't match what the prospective employer expects) it can be just as detrimental as if you had not done anything at all.

I would highly suggest developing a portfolio in the portion of the field you wish to get into (such as developing programs in a commonly used language) and referring to it as 'self study and professional development' on your resume. It may help landing an interview, and it can be used as an example of what weakness you had, and how you overcame that weakness during the interview. Self study (if provable) also demonstrates your ability to operate without heavy managerial oversight, which is attractive for many companies, especially smaller ones.

I will caution you that pursuing this path of career development can be very frustrating, as many companies willing to hire out of such an unusual track will expect to pay less money, and have a more self-motivated, independent employee (less money + more stress for you).

If you don't know precisely what you need, or what you wish to do, there are always freelance jobs that can give you a direction (even if they don't hire you, you can always do the project on your own time for your personal/portfolio development). A simple search on the search engine of your choice can give you a variety of starting points that may accurately reflect the desires of companies on the market today.

Good luck, the path ahead will be difficult.

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    Note: While this answer specifically addresses compsci and related fields, it can be applied to any field where you can develop an independent portfolio, not just computer science.
    – GOATNine
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 16:44
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    As an update, I recently accepted a new job offer in the field I work in that was offered based on my independent work (I have none of the paper qualifications they were looking for, and my title did not match what they were looking for in experience). Independent work can do what you need, but it requires luck and persistence.
    – GOATNine
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 17:19

How can I break into my field when I have a poor academic record?

I think your best bet is to obtain an industry standard certification in the field your interested in. These certifications are easily searchable, so I will not list them out. You will find that some certifications are worth more than a college degree.

For example:

I have a friend of mine who was in your exact situation. I suggested they take the basic Microsoft (again, there are many based on your specific interest, he happened to like MS) certification test in their field of interested.

The respectable certifications take time, and are difficult to get. The benefit to obtaining one of them is they demonstrate competence in relevant technologies.

Once he passed the test, the only thing the employers saw was the certification, and we was able to get interviews and finally obtain a JR role on a team. I do want to be completely transparent in that I think it will be difficult for you but not impossible.

Good luck.

  • I want to get the cloudera or hortonworks certification on spark for initial industrial recognition but alas! I do not have 250+$ to spend right now. Will Udemy certification by Frank Kane (He worked for Amazon and IMDb for 10 years, so a knowledgeable person) on Apache Spark be enough?
    – Sanb_213
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 3:06

Not so good marks in degree course is not itself a measure of your abilities, intelligence or capabilities. As a fresher, your asset is not your aggregate knowledge as reflected by your grades (though it certainly helps, no one really expects a fresher to be master of a field), it is your ability and willingness to learn.

Now, the thing boils down to 3 aspects: A) are you able to learn (do you have the required intelligence & basic knowledge & inclination to the field of your choice), B) are you willing to learn (do you have the required mindset to persist), C) how will you prove the above (can you articulate and communicate to people)

A) Are you able to learn: The answer to this question can only be sought through actually learning. One way is through self-teaching and then practicing on your own what you have learned; from data-science angle, could you at least compete in any of the competitions at Kaggle for example; and if not get on the board develop a respectable model (yes, GOATNine already said it won't be easy) or could you study yourself and take the test of one of the certification courses and clear it.

B) Are you willing to learn: This, I think you have answered for yourself that you want to learn (your chosen area). Only point is do you have the persistence? (more on that later)

C) How will you prove the above: Communication, if the above 2 points are in place, it is very important that you effectively communicate this to your prospective employer. Express your genuine intent to learn and progress and display your ability and willingness to learn

Now coming back to point B), in your post you mentioned you 'loved computers', the question is what exactly did you 'love' about it? That is your area of strength, self-learn on that to underscore your ability to acquire knowledge by yourself and the extent of your commitment will display your willingness and persistence to learn and communication to drive home your points in an interview.

The above technique is fairly generic to fit in all situations.

But above all (since you are having difficulty in landing a job in your chosen area), it will not hurt to once again retrospect as to what kind of job will really be fun for you? Would marketing be a good kind of thing ... or are you good with money & understand the stock market ... or would you be good as an entrepreneur ... ?

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