In June of 2005 I was a recent college graduate and luckily managed to get hired at one of the 4-5 jobs that I interviewed with. Now it's June of 2010 and I've managed to get a job with the one company I interviewed with in the last five months. The amount of people in America right now that are unemployed is insanely large, not to mention people who have been unemployed for what is considered an extreme amount of time such as one year or more. The amount of Architects (or people with degrees/job in architecture) that are unemployed is an equivalently insane amount.
Hell, I just did a quick google search for some actual information and this March 2009 article was in the top for "unemployment by profession" - http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2009/mar/20/recession-unemployment-and-employment-statistics
Architects are at the top of the building trades list but with a staggering 760% increase in numbers claiming unemployment benefits from Feb 2008 to the time of that report. The funny thing is that March of 2009 is when my job cut me down to 30 hours a week, but I was still "full-time" so my salary was the same I was just working less hours for it. I lived with the reduced hours until in June I was fortunate and took a part-time job with the surveying company my friend Jacob works for where I could pick up 8-12 hours a week as needed and make up for some of the missing pay. The bigger problem was that, as everyone does, we expected my career to continue to grow and as you can see from that study 2008 was a rough year and most of us didn't get the same raises we expected. A LOT of trades didn't get what they expected, I know that, but Architects appear to be the worst hit of the construction industry and even as recent as May of 2010 this study (http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/) of employment change by trade shows Manufacturing and Education growing a small amount while Construction still decreased by a larger amount than any of those grew. Government jobs grew a ludicrous amount because of the temporary employees hired for the census, so we can write that off for that month. So the construction industry has been in a job-losing spiral since 2008, which led up to late November of 2009 when I was laid off for a complete lack of work for me to do at the company. I understood it entirely, it was just a crappy situation for everyone and the company provided us with as much as they could to transition.
I didn't expect to change jobs when I got that job five years ago in June. I didn't expect a lot of things though, and the sheer volume of information and knowledge that I acquired at that job is staggering for me to think about still. I learned that the (unfortunate) best way to get a big raise is to switch jobs. I learned it through the normal means but also because the principal at the firm that hired me left a few months later after 25 years there, and then another project architect above me left within the next year and I heard the money amounts being thrown around at the time. I worked with people who had been at the firm for 10, 15, 30, and even 50 years and I saw what not switching jobs would lead to and what changing jobs could provide. I casually tossed around the idea but by then it was already 2008 and the time had passed, I was worried if I got a new job I'd be "the new guy" and if a crash did hit (which it definitely did) I'd be the first layer trimmed off.
The firm I was with had begun lay offs a lot later than most other Architectural firms, doing the first round in March of 2009 where we lost three people and several people were cut back to fewer hours including myself. The tone was set and we all knew it would almost definitely continue before the end of the year. I dusted off my old resume and put together a whole new portfolio in April, I'm not a COMPLETE fool it seems. I applied to some gov't related jobs but nothing came through, and then interviewed for an Industrial Designer position at none-other-than ThinkGeek in August. I was off-the-walls excited about it for obvious reasons, but they ended up getting people for the job that literally built computers and monitors in their spare time, which was something I could not compete with at all in the field of industrial design. That was my first interview since early 2005 when I was still in college, thankfully it was with TG and I could just wear my TMNT t-shirt to it and everything was very chill.
Then it came to November 2009, just before Thanksgiving, and I pretty much knew what was coming - I was without a job but still working part-time for the Surveying company. Unfortunately their work had also slowed down and I decided to focus more on trying to get a job. For the first month I applied to hundreds of jobs - architecture, design, graphics, websites, anything that I had any experience even closely related to. I heard back from none of them. Finally in late January I heard back from one of the biggest architecture firms in the country (probably the world too), but they were looking for a marketing person, literally someone who trolls around and works with government bids and proposals and does the grunt work of bringing in the jobs for the architects to design. I interviewed but they knew and I knew it wasn't a great fit or even close to what I was looking for. I thought THEN that I was desperate and hopefully nearing the end of unemployment.
Fast forward to April and May and I had spent a few months only applying to two, three, or a handful of jobs a week. Thankfully there was a steady stream of new job postings, but doing ten or twenty more than what was required for unemployment was a tough thing to rationalize, when the job listings might stop coming and then what would I do to meet the quota? It was a rough time. Thankfully one of those jobs I applied to called me in early May and wanted to set up an interview. Three interviews later (one on the phone, two in person), 2-3 weeks of insanely stressful waiting, and today I have a job offer in hand, signed, and returned. I'm set to go in on Friday and pick up the equipment I need to work from home (it's a Virtual Company, so everyone works from home) and begin working on Monday. Barring some insane or unfortunate mess up with the background check or references, I'm set to go!
It was a hell of a ride, and I hope that I never have to go through it again. I'll be posting some more thoughts and musings from my time as unemployed profession (read: bum), but I do have to say that I'm sad I didn't meet any of my 5 goals I set in late January for February. I'm going t be setting some new goals now and we'll see how I do. I'm okay with not meeting goals, as long as I set new ones (possibly easier ones) and see where I stand on my ability to meet the goals I want to achieve. Getting a job should have been my #1 on that list in January, and in all honesty it really was and being mentally, emotionally, and physically hung up on that is why I believe I never got to anything else on the list. Now that one seems to be completed, so I hope I can move on.
Oh, and thank you to the Starcraft 2 beta that opened in March. That certainly made the last three months more than bearable. :D