It’s June which means it is time for high school and college grads to swamp the job market. So here are a few words of wisdom on one way to gain that gainful employment — an example of how fortune shines on the exception to the rule. Well, sometimes.

Back in my graduate school days, when journalism was very much alive and well, Columbia University was seen as a feeding tube for employers. Lore had it that if you had a masters degree from what’s known as The J School, you’re holding a meal ticket. In March, with just two months to go before graduation, job interviewers would descend on the school like paratroopers with promises. These were representatives from newspapers, magazines, wire services, TV and radio stations. Each would take control of an office and post a sign-up sheet outside the door. Starry-eyed students would be seen in 15-minute interludes. This way, the hiring hand could greet a dozen hungry souls in three hours and go home, satisfied.

Satisfied? Really? When my turn came to spin through the revolving door, I faced Don Wilder, managing editor of the Quincy Patriot Ledger, a daily on Massachusetts’ South Shore. The paper was looking for an arts reviewer/entertainment reporter. As requested, I gave him a half dozen pieces from class-work and my college newspaper days, proving at the unformed age of 22 I knew what I was doing. I watched him speed-read and then push them back at me. He told me he had digested them. To me, he only had a taste. If he wasn’t taking all the clippings with him, how could he remember each of the dozen interviewees and their abilities?

I sulked back to my apartment and wore out the industrial carpeting in my hall, pacing about what to do next. Then I recalled a story we learned in one of our classes. In 1920, Briton Hadden, upon graduating from Yale, decided he had to start his journalism career at the famed New York World, published by Joseph Pulitzer, the man who endowed The J School. At the time, a man to be reckoned with, Herbert Bayard Swope, towered over the editorial department. Young Hadden managed to swoop around a secretarial barrier right into Swope’s office and asked for a job. Following his immediate instincts, the editor tried in vain to throw him out.

“Mr. Swope, you’re interfering with my destiny,” insisted Hadden. After a little more time with this exponent of spunk, the editor, won over by a wave of earnestness, hired him. Three years later, Hadden (with fellow Yalie, Henry Luce) started Time Magazine. So much for destiny.

Was I destined for anything? Wouldn’t I really like to start my career as a critic of movies, plays, books, you name it? Isn’t this time for Hadden-style gumption? There’s a word you don’t hear much anymore.

I did a crazy thing. I wasn’t legally crazy, because I knew right from wrong, but I felt the wrong way might be the right way. I felt compelled to go over the head of the man who interviewed me. This is something you’re never supposed to do, right? Like leaving the toilet seat up in a multi-gender household. So I wrote a cri du coeur to G. Prescott Low, the publisher of the Patriot Ledger, a plea of well-chosen words of diplomacy and passion. I stated my case that I really wanted this job, I could do this job and I’d really be remiss if I didn’t include the clippings left behind and possibly forgotten in the interview swirl. In short, I was a dog begging for a bone.

In closing, I asked for forgiveness in going over Mr. Wilder’s head and mailed the letter. (At this moment, a letter seems as quaint as gumption.) Then I walked around New York under a dark cloud of doubt. What have I done? Would this act be seen as one of initiative and enterprise, or of chutzpah run amok, akin to sending a ransom note on monogrammed stationery? After a week of self-flagellation, the phone rang in my apartment. The caller sounded like he was speaking through clenched teeth.

“Reisman, this is Don Wilder at the Patriot Ledger.” I took my last breath. “You’ve got the job. Don’t ever do that again.”

Wow, if there ever was a call of mixed and shame! Like burning your mouth on a hot fudge sundae!

So in this case, to sell yourself, to stand out from others, to show spunk, it didn’t hurt to break a rule. After all, I wasn’t overturning morality, undermining ethics or endangering world peace. I just proved how hungry I was for a job. A classmate, Dave Sanford, even pulled a Hadden and sat in the office of the New Republic. They said they weren’t hiring. He said he wasn’t leaving. The next day he became their staff reporter. He showed spunk.

In closing I have to add a qualifier for all job seekers. Please keep in mind what tough Lou Grant said to the demure Mary Richards on the Mary Tyler Moore show: “You’ve got spunk…I hate spunk.”

Okay, kids, you’re on your own.

Arnie Reisman and his wife, Paula Lyons, regularly appear on the weekly NPR comedy quiz show, Says You! He also writes for the Huffington Post.