How to Get a Great Job With Nothing to Offer 2

This is part two of a series. Part One is immediately below. If you haven’t already, please read that one first.

I didn’t really expect ever to hear from The Asian Wall Street Journal. Surely, I thought, so prestigious a paper is receiving resumés and clips from genuine grown-up business reporters at big-city papers. Still, since I had access to that stack of  red envelopes, I put one in the mail to Hong Kong every Friday, stuffed with my stories from that week’s paper, along with a neatly typed letter to Mike Malloy saying that I remained eager to work for him whenever he had an opening.

In the meantime, I kept scattershooting resumes and clips to mid-sized dailies in the hopes of getting the kind of job that might make me a candidate for the kind of job that might make me a candidate for the kind of job that might make me a candidate for The Asian Wall Street Journal.

Newsroom folklore had it that the daily paper in Anchorage had won a Pulitzer Prize for a series about the Teamsters’ stranglehold on Alaska. I couldn’t google it, of course — this was 1981 — so I trundled off to the New York Public Library and sat reading bound volumes of the Anchorage Times, Alaska’s largest daily. I never found the series, but being a reporter in Alaska looked like a lot of fun: grizzly attacks! bush-plane crashes! volcanic eruptions! shipwrecks! corruption!

My father Sy, lives by a sensible rule: Ask for the order. It’s not enough to explain to a buyer the superiority of your product; at a certain point you need to say, “Can I put you down for fifty cases?” I sat at my Selectric and typed out a letter to the editor of the Anchorage Times that all but grabbed the man by the knot of his necktie. After the usual inflation of achievements and other bland throat-clearing, I made myself turn to the main course. “I would like very much to be a reporter for the Times and believe I’d do a good job,” I concluded. “May I please have a reporting position on your staff?”

I put the letter, a resumé, and some recent clips in the mail — along with my weekly red envelope to Hong Kong.

A week later rang the big black rotary phone on my desk, and a bemused-sounding man said, “You want to work here that bad, come on. We’re not going to move you or anything like that, but if you can get yourself up here to Anchorage, I’ll give you a reporter’s job on the business desk.” Bada-bing!

“I couldn’t possibly be there until morning,” I said. He laughed.

“See you whenever you arrive,” he said. “Don’t get killed getting here. That happened to us once; starting reporter hit a moose on the Al-Can Highway on his way up from the Lower 48.”

Oh man; this was going to be fun.

Whooping like a banshee, I bolted for the door, stopping briefly at the supply closet to grab another stack of red envelopes.

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