"I wish I had graduated from a Tier 1 university so I could land a job.....", if you've had such thoughts after not hearing back from employers for your first job, its time to stop, reflect and come up with an action plan.
As an employer and advisor to individuals who've just graduated, my advise is simple. Stand out and be prepared to roll up your sleeves. Since I work in the Software Development industry, I am confident this advise holds up for this vertical and perhaps others too, where its an 'employees market' (employers are desperate to hire and generally are unable to find individuals with the needed skill-sets). Easier said than done, so I've put an action plan for those interested:
- (Re)Take all basic courses from Udacity, Coursera etc. You want your basics to be rock solid. Tier 2 universities generally don't have good faculty, and its your basics that really give you away in an interview. So be solid
- Participate in programming competitions. Doesnt matter if you're the last ...just go all out. Note these participations and place them prominently on your CV.
- Create a github profile and start following open source projects of interest. Try to subscribe to projects where there is already a large following and then keep up with pull requests. If you're able to send a pull request, give yourself a big pat. If it gets merged, High Five. If not, no worries. Add a reference to it in your CV
- Follow a few tech blogs. NOT the ones that talk about iPhones and Android phones, the ones that talk about technology as an industry. Techcrunch, hacker news, read write web etc. Understand whats shaping the world
- Be passionate and confident. It shows in the interview and helps form a positive impression about you even if you're not able to answer all the questions.