Some things that I have learnt: 1. Branding matters. We can harp on all about the merits of which university is better than the rest, but employers suffer from salience. If they have heard about where you go, and if they hear good things about it, then it's ok. You have a reputation that precedes you that you didn't necessarily earn, but hey, you have it because you probably paid for it. 2. Marks matter. Intelligence is something people want, but how are they going to test this? The easiest shorthand is your marks. That is the work that unis shove onto you, with grading systems over three to five (or more) years. Which all comes down to your GPA. It is used as a filter mechanism as well. You have hundreds to thousands of applicants, wanting to score it big in banking, law, consulting, medicine or whatever. HR get flooded and decide that it's all too hard (slackers) and decide to cut by the easiest metric possible. Show me your GPA. But there is a limit to this. After a certain threshold, you get into the interview or whatever and then its up to your personality to get you through. 3. Networking matters. This relates to the second point. Having people in the right places can help you immensely. How you do this is up to you. Intern and get contacts within industry. Contact alumni. Use friends and family. A kind word can open up a door. 4. Understanding yourself matters. Every single graduate comes out with a fairly homogeneous set of skills, so what makes you so special that people want you? If you can answer this question, then you are halfway there. And once you do, work on that so you can back it up in interviews. 5. Degrees can or cannot matter. Depends on where you want to be. Lawyers and doctors need a JD/LLB or a medicine degree. Others, not so much. The traditional way of breaking in may not be the best. Look around. 6. Risk matters. Its been touched upon, but many people say that its best to take risks when you are young so that you can recover if things go bad. Of course, this is usually used by financial planners that want young people to invest in stocks early on due to the market risk premium idea. But looking at where equity markets are at the moment, maybe that isn't such a good idea any more. But there is a bit of sense to this though. There are opportunities out there for people when they have time to utilise. Your value increases due to time and volatility use it. Hope this helps.