I was a supervisor in a technical organization at WPAFB for almost 12 years before retiring and coming to UD. Based on that experience, I offer the following as my personal perspective on what the post-UD professional world is like.
When I was hiring new college graduates, I had to scan through stacks of applications. The first "cut" was based on what technical specialty I needed. The second "cut" was based on grades. Grades show how successfully an individual has completed a four-year process requiring diligence, initiative, and intelligence (in order of importance to me as a supervisor). This is a pretty good measure of whether an individual has the potential to be a valued employee. Grades do not tell the whole story. But they can get you an interview--or not. Without the interview, you can't communicate the "real you." I learned that if an employee came to me with diligence, I could teach them the job. I have no idea how to teach diligence. People had acquired it or not before they came into my sphere of influence. The same is true for students.
I observed that employees were known to far more people across the organization than they ever would have dreamed. Your performance (good or bad) earns you a reputation far more widely across your organization than you imagine. If you are a good communicator either verbally or in writing, this will become widely known. If you are diligent and productive at your work, that will become widely known. If you are a marginal employee that will become widely known.
It pays to be helpful and gracious to everyone you meet across your organization.
The person you interact with today may be your supervisor tomorrow, or may be able to say a
positive word (or a negative one) about you to a key person at a critical time.
Being gracious and helpful tends to be returned and makes the organization more pleasant and productive.
I was once in a meeting in which someone I knew casually wrote something on a white board, made comments about it, and excused himself to leave for an appointment. He tried to erase the board but found they had used a non-erasable marker. He left, but came back in a few minutes with a bottle of spray cleaner and some paper towels. He erased the marks on the board and then left. He did not have to do that. He could have left it for the janitors to clean up that night. My thought was: "This is why this individual has risen relatively high in the organization." People who routinely do things that need to be done to make the organization work efficiently and effectively without worrying about whether the task was formally their job or not are noticed and rewarded.
The flip side:
It is possible to annoy others by doing what they perceive as their jobs;
It is possible to spend too much time doing things other than your main job.
This individual had found the right balance.