I can't figure out what you mean by "actually fulfill the position". Maybe you mean fulfilling the duties of the position. What's necessary to fulfill the duties of a position? Competent work, and that's completely up to the employee after being hired, not something that comes from a referral. Competency comes from experience, so it should be obvious that simply being referred for a job doesn't mean that you'll fulfill the duties of a job. Maybe you mean "filling the position", as in hiring someone. Referrals certainly help, and the more people you know (and have a positive relationship and reputation) the more likely you'll get a referral. Many jobs are filled without advertising. If your buddy knows about the job and knows you're a good fit, he'll recommend you. Hiring managers love that because referral candidates come pre-screened, don't require advertising or headhunter fees, and arrive pretty quickly. I think it's obvious that work experience is more important than education experience, particularly when considering under-graduate work. Work experience for a meaningful duration implies competency, especially in a candidate who can articulate their accomplishments well. Someone who's graduated from college has zero experience, and therefore can't demonstrate competency in any meaningful way. I hope that helps -- maybe you'll want to refine your question a bit if you need a better answer.