It is the aim of this paper to provide a better understanding of how university students inAustralia are preparing for their future work in the labour market through their workorientations. It draws upon a survey of over 300 final-year undergraduates to presenttheir rationales for engaging in paid work, and their preferences for different job facetsin the workplace. On one hand, the ‘risk society’ thesis proposed that the disruptions anduncertainty in the modern work environment are prompting many young graduates to‘become stage managers of their own biographies’. On the other hand, there is anargument that despite the switch towards the promotion of individual responsibilities,structural factors such as gender continue to impinge on their choices. This article willalso examine whether the students’ individualised attempts to manage their careersthrough their work orientations are influenced by gender differences.