BusinessPundit.com has a great post on a hard reality of the workplace:
I first began to realize that in 1995 when I was an electrical engineering student at the University of Kentucky. I applied for a co-op position at Lexmark, and never heard anything back. I applied every semester for two years. Still nothing.
Then one day an accounting professor or mine gave the class an assignment - go interview someone in your industry. I found someone at Lexmark to interview about engineering, and we kept in touch after the interview. At the end of the semester he sent me a note saying that their co-op was leaving, and asking if I wanted to co-op in his department.
Two years of following the rules got me nowhere. One hour of meeting with a real engineer got me what I wanted. He never asked for my resume. Never asked about GPA. Never asked anything except whether or not I wanted the position. It was my first taste of a major life lesson - it's who you know, not what you know.