Authors: Nancy Adams
2014 by Nancy Adams.
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Table of Contents
Seven people sat in a large conference room. The far wall was just glass, and a steady stream of not-to-bright sun was shining through the filtered windows. The chairs were a soft. comfortable leather, embellished with molding and gold burnishments. A huge table kept the seven people well apart from one another, with its shining top.
Before them was a spread of food more opulent than one or two had ever seen in their lives. Jane Parkett knew that it was more impressive than some meals she’d seen on T.V. There were plates of smoked salmon, crackers, sliced spirals of ham, fruit trays, exquisite looking roasted vegetables. Jane sat, mentally calculating how much of each item she’d be able to sneak away in her purse once the orientation was over.
It was the best day of her life: The first day as an analyst at one of the largest financial firms in Chicago.
“You are the cream of the crop,” Said a balding man in a many-thousand dollar suit. He stood straight-backed, proud, looking over the pool of young twenty somethings as if he were a general surveying his troops. His hands gripped the back of a chair, the material groaning as his fingers bit in. Jane winced, she’d shook that hand once before, and still had the soreness to prove it. “Bradford and Schwick only hire the best of the best. We hire people that we know can live up to our high expectations.” Finally releasing the hold on the Hamlin bent slightly to retrieve a small book from the seat. “We strive to create an environment that it more than just a workplace. We create a family dynamic. Over 70% of our employees stay on until retirement, and in our executive branch, we have a program that will put three people every year on the track to partner.”Jane breathed in a heavy sigh of disbelief as she listened.
If anyone were to ask about Jane Parkett, to anyone that knew her, they’d always get the same answers. Driven, dedicated, strong, motivated. Jane was a warrior of hard work and determination. She’d fought hard to sit at that table, with those men and their suits. Fought harder than all the other women that had been slowly whittled down by the work environment. The boys didn’t play nice. Didn’t censor themselves just because there was a lady in the room. It took the right kind of person to understand that the world they wanted to be part of was cutthroat and unforgiving. Jane knew that. Lived it when she worked a full time job to pay for college. Four years of her life had been dedicated to nothing but study.
“Sign the book: all employees do. Its tradition here.” Mr. Hamlin said, “Your journey starts here. You’re no longer interns, no longer applicants. Now, you are part of this family.” He smiled, lips curling up in an amused twist, “Let’s hope you enjoy your time here. Eat, drink some food, and relax. Real work begins tomorrow, after orientation.”
He was gone, leaving out of the room without so much as a ‘goodbye’. His assistant, a mousey woman in an impeccable sheath dress, scurried after him, already relaying information about meetings and plans.
“Well, how about that?” A blonde man asked, moving from his chair to look down at the book. “Associates at Bradford and Schwick.” His long fingers removed a pen from inside his jacket: Jane saw that it was inlaid with marble, “To be honest, I didn’t think most of you would make it.” He signed his name quickly, then threw a look at the other six people in the room. “
“You made it, McKinnon.” Jane said as she stood, nearly elbowing the tall man out of the way to get to the book. “Some of us actually had to work to get here.”
“Come off it, Parkett. I have the same job you do now.” The blonde smiled at her: Jane resisted the urge to punch his teeth in. HR probably wouldn’t have looked too kindly on all the extra work.
“Oh, but we didn’t get here the same way,” Jane signed her name in the book with shaking hands, right under the sprawling signature of Franklin McKinnon: She made sure to loop her letters a little bit over his. As she smiled down at her work, Jane capped her pen, placing it back inside her purse with a contented sigh.
Everything was in place. She had the degrees, the job, and in two short months she’d have the main street apartment that had caught her eye nearly a year ago. Working at the firm would be the catalyst Jane needed to achieve greatness.
“What floor is everyone on?” Asked the only other woman in the room. Rebecca was a tall and leggy brunette. Where Jane was strong and dedicated, she was fierce and frightening. Nearly hired on the spot because of her no-nonsense, utterly fearless attitude. Rebecca didn’t take anything from anyone, and hit back harder than the boys did when it came to workplace banter. During their internship, she’d made plenty of the others limp away with their tails tucked between their legs.
She and Jane were friends of sort. But Jane wasn’t entirely sure if their friendship was real, or just an attempt to not get on her bad side
“I’m on 12,” Jane said, looking down at the orientation packet. “you?” .
“The same. Oh, we should do lunch after we mop the floor with these boys.” Rebecca smiled brightly.
“That’s some big talk,” McKinnon added, a small smirk on his lips, “Don’t want you two overexerting yourselves. I know how...delicate some people can be.”
“The only thing delicate here is your ego, McKinnon.” Jane, finally unable to resist, reached over and picked up a plate. The food smelled so good, she could hardly wait. In a matter of seconds, she’d loaded it up with everything she could reach“You should have that checked out.” Said Jane, fork poised for her mouth, “I don’t think this office is big enough for it.” Her stomach growled loudly then, reminding her that it had been nearly a day since she’d eaten. Her morning breakfast had been neglected due to nerves, much like the dinner from the previous night.
“Aw, little kitten has claws.” McKinnon drawled, stretching back in his seat as he pulled the orientation packet into his lap. Jane took hers too, taking a few moments to look over the huge stack of paperwork. There was a copy of her contract, that she’d signed messily only an hour before. Secured to the top of the page was her employee card, which gave her access to the building and its numerous facilities.
Bradford and Schwick was known worldwide as one of the best places to work. Their employees were kept happy and healthy with perks like a free gym membership, spa services, and even child care for people with families. While working at the firm was often stressful, the higher-ups made sure that all was done to keep employee dysfunction to a minimum.
“Come on, Jane.” Rebecca said cheerfully. “Once you’re done eating we can go scope out the place. Go see parts we weren’t allowed in as interns.”
“Will do,” Jane said as she popped another piece of succulent salmon in her mouth. “Lets go drop this stuff at our cubes. I don’t have my group meeting until 1:30.”
Once she’d finished eating, Jane and Rebecca left the board room. All the other new recruits had slowly milled out to go exploring. As interns, they’d all been rather limited in how much of the building they’d been able to see. Most of the best parts were kept from them as secrets to be earned.
Walking through the halls was like walking through a dream for Jane. There were banks of cubicles and large spaces of desk area. People sat in them, some working diligently, others chatting with their co-workers. The office space itself was elegant: Smooth colorful leather and dark wood, accented by hints of silver or chrome. There was a scent of computer and ink in the air, it was a smell that Jane loved.
As it was, the pair found their cubes were right next to one another, already stocked with a work desk, lamp and a computer. Rebecca set to taking things from her large Chloe bag, little trinkets, a planner, and setting them just so on the surface.
“So, Rebecca, what do you do outside of work?” Jane asked, wanting to get to know the woman she’d be sitting next to for god-knows how long.
“I teach a pilates class on weekends.” Suddenly she perked up, chocolate colored hair flying as she stood to meet Jane's eyes. “You should come by this Saturday. It’s a great workout, and that’s my beginner class, so you can jump right in.” She smiled, nudging Jane with her elbow. “I’ll even give you a great rate.”
“Pilates…” Jane echoed. “I’ll go, but you have to promise not to hurt me too badly.”
Rebecca laughed lightly, a devious look springing up on her face, “Oh Jane, what kind of trainer would I be if I made that promise?”
“A nice one?” Jane tried.
“You know damn well that I’m not nice.”
At exactly 1:25, Jane made her way to a small meeting room, where she would gather with other analyst that would make up the team she’d be working with. Admittedly, Jane was nearly bubbling over with excitement: She couldn’t wait to start doing real work. As an intern, her job was mostly just to shut up and do as she was told: Which often involved making copies or getting coffee and snacks for grumpy senior analyst. Now that she was officially a junior analyst, Jane was hoping to put to use some of what she’d learned, and help aid her company in it’s goal for greatness.
Inside the room sat a small group of people, most of them were hunched over steaming mugs of coffee or chatting while taking a quick lunch. Jane sat quietly at the end of the table, surveying her new work group with a impassive eyes. It was a good mix of doe eyed junior analyst, and steely faced senior employees.
“Okay, it’s 1:30. Let’s get some introductions over with before we begin.” Derek Burke said, he sat a the head of the table. He had graying black hair, and murky colored eyes. “As you see we have two new recruits joining us today. Jane Parkett and Franklin McKinnon.” He waved toward Jane, who did her best to meet the eyes of everyone that gave her a welcome ‘hello’.
“Is Mr. McKinnon not joining us today?”
I hope not.’
Thought Jane, as the realization that she may actually have to work with that man on a daily basis dawned on her.
“I saw him at orientation earlier…” Jane began, but was soon interrupted by the board room door banging open. All chatter stopped at that point, as Mr. Schwick walked in. He was the son of the founding Mr. Schwick, not yet partner, but not at the bottom of the totem poll by any means. Jane had heard McKinnon talking about how he knew the Schwicks, but she’d assumed it was a lie more than anything. Who actually had billionaires as friends? Of course, it anyone did Franklin McKinnon would. How else would a man as arrogant and demanding as he was get anywhere in the world?
“Sorry Derek,” James Schwick said, patting a smiling McKinnon on the back. “I was just showing Frank around. He’s not late is he?”
“N..n..No. Not at all, Mr. Schwick. Have a seat Mr. McKinnon, you’re right on time. Would you like to join us for our meeting, Mr. Schwick.”
The young man shrugged, glancing down at the ruby embossed watch on his wrist, “I have a few minutes before my next meeting, I’d love to sit in.”
Mr. Burke looked elated. More than elated actually. He stood up from his chair, offering it to Mr. Schwick like it was the best thing in the world to be doing. McKinnon took the empty space next to Jane, who had to school her face into a neutral mask to hide her distaste.
Men like Franklin didn’t know what it meant to work for a living. They were groomed for success at birth, and knew nothing of struggling. Everything they could ever want was handed to them on a platter without so much as a fight.
“ Ms. Parkett, we will have you and Mr. McKinnon working with one of our best analyst on an ongoing project. I’ll have Sam fill you both in later. He’ll also be working as your mentor, Ms. Parkett.” Mr. Burke paused, “As for you, Mr. McKinnon. it looks like you have your mentor already in place?”
“Yes,” McKinnon said lightly, “I’ve been working with Mr. Sanders since I was in college. I’m sure he will be more than happy to put me in my place from time to time.”
A chortle of laughter went around the room. Jane rolled her eyes: The joke hadn’t even been funny. But of course, everyone was excited to try and get on the good side of the man that had an in with the Schwick’s.
“I’m sure that will work,” Mr. Burke said lightly, “Now, shall we continue everyone?” Burke then went on to present some of the other projects to the rest of the group. He gave the goals for the week, making sure that everyone was clear what their roles were going to be. “Ms. Parkett, Mr. McKinnon, Sam Belmore will come and get you when he’d ready to brief you on your work. I suggest you two get acquainted if you haven’t already, you’ll be working in tandem with one another.”
Jane told herself fiercely, trying to keep the frown she felt forming at bay. The room emptied out in a mass of bodies, leaving Jane and McKinnon utterly alone in a matter of minutes. He leaned casually back in his chair, that annoying smirk plastered on his lips. Sunlight played against his brown hair, allowing the soft hints of brown in it to shine through. Why did a man like him have the nerve to be good-looking too? The handsome ones were always the worst: Jane had learned that lesson early on in B School.