When I was in college (Va. Tech '74-'79) nobody came to interview architects. I sent many a letter and got some "Thank you, but no thank you" replies. The standard for getting a job as a recent graduate was to go door to door with a roll of your drawings .
Many times I was asked to leave a resume and they would call if they need someone, but that never happen to me. It was a matter if they needed someone "NOW" they may consider you. My father who was an engineer by degree (also a Hokie) and a lighting rep by profession told me I needed to be able to do two things if I wanted a job "print and draw"
Prior to moving to Roanoke, Va in 1967 we had lived in Greensboro, NC for five years. Dad had called on most of the engineers and architects throughout the state. He still had some engineers down in North Carolina that he considered good friends and that gave me an opportunity to get my foot in a few doors. I can not express the importance that relationships play during one's life. Those connections are invalueable. You never know who knows who!
An engineer who worked for an A/E firm in Chapel Hill, NC was my ace in the hole. "Bombin'" Ramin Amin, who to my memory was the only engineer in this ten man firm was my connection to get an interview with one of the partners. Dressed in a three piece suit, I went for my interview which was short and I was told I was hired, "Come in Monday". Then the partner got up and walked out of his office. I had to follow him down the hall and ask "what time do you start?" to which he replied 8:30 AM. I asked "What do I wear?" to which he replied "What you have on is fine.". During my interview we discussed salary. I asked for $10,000 a year. I was told that it was higher than they pay interns, so I was given a counter offer in dollars per hour. I don't remember the exact number, but when I did the math it came out to something like $9,980 per year.
So I start work in a three piece suit and sitting directly in front of me is a guy wearing a rolled up t-shirt and blue jeans, cussing like a sailor! I thought "Man am I over dressed". It was the last time I ever worn a suit to work.
I had tried to get a job working for an architect my fifth year in college, but Blacksburg is a college town, so there weren't many firms to talk to and it never materialized. So I really didn't have any experience in the "real world". I sat down my first day and a guy drops a roll of marked up blue prints on my desk and tells me to make the corrections. I sat there for a while and stared at the prints. I had an electrical eraser on the desk, but I thought "Surely there must be more to it than this? They can't want me to change these prints, but I really didn't know?" I got up after after minutes and asked "Aren't I suppose to get some else?" and the guy answered "Oh yeah, the originals are in the flat files." I gave a sigh or relief, as I realized I averted looking like a green rookie by trying to make changes on the blueprints.
I lasted in that job about nine months before I was let go due to lack of work, well that is what I was told. I might not have been the sharpest knife in the drawer, but they had just hired two licensed architects two weeks before I was let go, so I didn't think work load was really the problem. Again I was pounding the pavement, going door to door with a handful of drawings. I did land another job within about six weeks. I lasted there about two and half years before I left to go to my last stop before going out on my own in 1987
I am sure that recent architectural graduates don't go door to door nowadays with laptops under their arms instead of drawings. Instead of "print and draw", I assume the requirements are now you must know how to "type and use CAD". I still think that to find a job you need to go where the work is. Recent graduates need to find out what area's in the country are doing the most construction and go look in those markets. I still believe that you need to call on a firm that has an immediate need for the best chance of landing that first job. As my Dad told me, your first job will be production, it doesn't matter if you are the next Frank Lloyd Wright, you will get your first job based on your drawing / production skills.
I tease a friend who plays the North Carolina lottery and tell him my chances of winning are as good as his and I didn't even buy a ticket. His response is if someone has to win, it might as well be him. That is my same attitude about architecture. As much as I hear about how tough the industry is my thought is as long as there is a need for one architect, it might as well be me!
(Good news is my firm is still open this week! :-)