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I have some questions regarding how to go about getting my first job at a firm. I graduated back in May 2012 and spent the next year working and travelling off and on. Since September I've applied to 53 firms in my city. Most of which were cold emails. Of those I received responses from maybe 15 saying no thanks and was able to have one informational interview which was great. I've followed up via phone with the 15 or so firms I really want to work for but nothing has really transpired.
Obviously the email technique isn't working too well and at this point I'm wanting to network as much as possible. Should I just start calling firms and mention that I'm a recent graduate looking to talk with professionals about the industry without even mentioning that I'm looking for a job? I realize face to face interaction is extremely important in our industry and so far I've been having a hard time getting to that point with firms. What do you guys think? Any other tips for networking and getting past the office assistant?
I suggest going to AIA events in your city, or seeing if any firms are hosting events (check out their facebook/twitter). Have a business card and collect some contacts. Local design competitions provide a good way to meet some people (other applicants, the jury, etc). Any architecture schools in the area are bound to host events as well. I've been able to at least get some interviews from people I met this way.