"My advice to student engineers is to seek positions in companies that seek to compete with value-added differentiators – in quality, performance, functionality."
That's ironic, coming from someone who works for a company that has barely made a profit this quarter and was in a complete FUBAR 3 years ago...
Fresh outs have big opportunities right now. All the large companies are eager to hire them. My advice is to find a good company with interesting work and keep learning. Don't be afraid to push the envelope and not do things their way just because they always have. If you push hard enough, they will either fire you or promote you. Either way, you grow.
In general, engineers are able to build. Question is what to build. It takes more than engineering to create a product and this is why founding a company typically takes more than 1 person.
I agree with daleste. Young engineers shall try to pus the envelope because, really, you will learn a lot by +ve confirmation your idea or by making mistake. Fearless is priceless. ;)