Authors: Vera Roberts
The first day at McCormick and Sheppard proved to be an eventful one for Mariana. She had to go through security, get her badge, and was on a walk-through tour with the other interns throughout the floor. She was introduced to colleagues in different departments and took note of all of the available restrooms and vending machines.
Finally, Mariana and the other interns were introduced to the executive team. Michael Sheppard, was the co-chariman and the ‘Sheppard’ of McCormick and Sheppard. He was an older gentleman, tall, and with a white goatee that matched his equally bright, white hair. He spoke with a strong Midwest accent, despite living in California for the past 20 years. He was friendly but in a rush to get to a business meeting. “One of the downfalls of being a CEO, kids,” he told everyone, “you’re always in some meeting when you rather be golfing.”
Next was Richard McCormick, the other co-chairman and the ‘McCormick’ of McCormick and Sheppard. He was an attractive gentleman, maybe just a few years older than Michael. He was of average height, medium build. He wore glasses that gave him a distinguished look, as if he belonged more behind a TV news desk sharing the latest crime story than be the head of a major marketing/PR firm. “I have meetings, too,” Richard pointed out, “but I conduct them on the golf course.”
Lastly, the interns were introduced to the last member of the executive team, Scott. He was the executive creative director of the firm, a fact Mariana learned along with everyone else. He was oversaw the other directors all over the world and often made final decisions on any campaign ads. It was an open secret that even though Richard and Michael were the co-chairmen, it was really Scott who ran the business.
He explained to the interns he was just in their position not that long ago himself. He began as an intern and worked his way up. “Anything is possible,” He told the interns. His hands were in his pockets and he occasionally rocked back and forth on his heels. “If you work hard and focus. A little ass-kissing doesn’t hurt, either.”
“Do you golf, too?” One of the interns asked.
“Nah, golfing is for stuffy old White men,” Scott joked as the interns laughed. “I conduct my meetings in a bar.”
“Off company time.” Michael pressed.
“Yeah, sure.” Scott winked at the interns. “After lunch, you’ll be divided into two groups. One group will work under Interactive and Design and the other will go to Brand Strategy. Your job is to be a sponge. Soak up everything you know. Take notes on everything. And for fuck’s sake, ask questions. If they’re stupid, I’ll tell you they’re stupid. But it’s worse to have you thinking you’re the shit when you’re just shit.”
The interns laughed. Mariana deliberately avoided contact with Scott. It was better to pretend she barely knew who he was than to give a hint on their relationship. The last thing she needed was to be accused of having any preferential treatment at work. She didn’t have to worry about Scott, though; whenever he did look in her direction, he didn’t look at her at all.
“If that’s all, you’re dismissed. Elissa, can you show the interns the cafés on campus? Lunch is on me, everyone.” Scott announced to cheers from the interns.
“Sure thing, Scott.” Elissa said as she led the group down the hall, “alright, everyone, follow me. I’ll show you where the cafés are…”
“A promising group we got here this fall.” Richard commented.
“Very promising.” Michael looked over to Scott. “You did real well with this group, Ice.”
Scott’s eyes were focused on Mariana. “I did, didn’t I?”
“Dude, working here is gonna be sweet!” One of the male interns, Nate, commented. “An internship here means a job anywhere!” Nate was a short Latino male with a sweet demeanor. He was so nice sometimes people forgot he wasn't a pushover.
“I know, man.” Another intern, Alex, commented. “I can’t wait.” Alex was tall, lanky, and got used to wearing long-sleeved dress shirts to cover up his various tattoos. He looked more like a club kid at a rave than an office professional.
“Dude, all I know is I’m definitely getting a job here no matter what it takes.” The last male intern, Robert, stroked his goatee. He was a tall, Black male that looked more than his 22 years but acted much younger. “I’m gonna be out there with them White dudes, golfing. Just watch.”
While the men were speaking business, the female interns were talking about something more serious to their own needs. “Did you see how hot Scott was?” Jennifer asked the other girls. She was White, tall, and thin. She had long, brown hair and accordingly to Mariana, wore way too much makeup.
“Girl, he is so fine! I wouldn’t mind doing some extra work underneath him if you catch my drift.”Tawny clamored. Tawny was short, blonde, and average build. She never had to sleep her way to the top but wouldn't pass up the opportunity if it presented itself. She needed a promotion.
“Did you see how deep his eyes were? It’s like they can see into your soul!” Jennifer exclaimed.
“What did you think, Melanie?” Tawny asked.
“Mariana,” she corrected, “I think he’s alright looking.” Mariana was proud at how much better she had become at lying.
“Alright? Girl, he’s more than alright. He’s fucking gorgeous!” Jennifer sighed.
Mariana tried to not show her true feelings. Scott was one of the most attractive men at the firm and he was all hers.“I’m just different. Whenever I work for someone, I don’t really see how attractive they are. I just see them as my boss.”
“Whatever, girl. I’ll make sure I’ll tell you the details of how amazing Scott was in about a couple of weeks.” Jennifer winked.
“A couple of weeks?” Tawny asked
“Girl, what I got is so good, it’ll only take him a couple weeks to get up on this. I slept with other bosses before; he would not be any different.” Jennifer smiled.
Mariana suddenly lost her appetite.
“Ice?” A creative director, Chris, knocked on Scott’s open door, “you wanted to see me?”
“Yes, come on in, Chris. Close the door behind you.” Scott directed.
Chris closed the door behind him and walked in Scott’s office. “What can I do for you?”
“There’s a new intern that started today. Her name is Mariana Harlow.” Scott said. “She’s going to be put in Brand Strategy. I want you to keep a close eye on her and give me a weekly report on what she’s doing, how she’s acting, if she’s doing great or if there are any problems.”
“Sure, no problem, Ice,” Chris shrugged, “any reason why you’re singling her out?”
There were many reasons Scott thought of why he kept a close eye on Mariana; none of them concerned anyone but him. “I want to be sure she’s doing a good job.”
If Mariana thought her first day at McCormick and Sheppard was going to be a walkthrough, she was in for a surprise. The interns visited different departments, learned how manage the reception desk, do mail runs, and spoke with other executives at the firm. Mariana had to get another notepad just take down all of the information she had learned.
The last item of the day was sitting on a campaign meeting with Scott and his marketing team. There were 10 of them in person and an additional 10 over teleconference. Scott sat in the middle of the group, his face stoic. While the other directors were laughing and joking, Scott was not in the comical mood. He was all business.
"Alright, kids," Scott began as the room quieted down. "Let's make this short and sweet for the interns here. Let's not try to scare them off on their first day."
"Speak for yourself, Ice." Richard sniggered to chuckles around the room. "Let's get started with this meeting. We'll go by each department commenting on what projects they are working on and then we'll adjourn. Sound good, everyone? Good. Let's go."
Throughout the meeting, Mariana watched the other creative directors presented their reports, projects, and issues to the executive team. While Richard and Michael seemed genuinely interested, Scott took notes on everything. He only looked up briefly to ask questions or look at samples. It seemed the creative directors were more nervous in presenting in front of Scott rather the co-chairmen.
The mood changed for the worse when one of the creative directors, Arturo, presented his status report. He spoke of the successful business meeting he had with Pepsi and the new advertising campaign he started with Always feminine products. "All in all, good news. The only other thing to report is the loss of the Dove account but we're doing fine."
"Wait, wait, wait…" Scott's eyes squinted and he rubbed his forehead. "We lost the Dove account? What do you mean we lost the Dove account?" Dove was the leading beauty care product in the world. Besides their soap, they were also known for their creative ads that appealed to every demographic. A contract with them would've set McCormick and Sheppard above and beyond their competition.
"I thought I told you. No, actually, I did tell you about it." Arturo defended.
Scott knew Arturo was full of shit. "When was this? Was I coherent? Was I in a hurry?"
"I'm sure I told you," Arturo said.
"Oh, now you're
you told me?" Scott sniggered. "So you went from being pretty damn sure you told me to you
have told me?"
"Regardless, it's not a big deal. They wanted to do the campaign for less money and I told them no."
"You what?" Scott asked. "Who was the dumbass that gave you that authority to make an executive decision? Please point him out so I can fire his ass right now."
"What they wanted from us and the price they gave was impossible." Arturo reasoned. His forehead was sweating.
"No, it's not impossible. Either you negotiate with them so they're happy or you can tell them to fuck off. It's not that complicated."
"They wanted an extra $500K of stuff but they only wanted to spend $100K," Arturo reasoned. "I wasn't being unreasonable when I told them no."
"Now did you actually say, 'No, we can't do this' or did you say something else?"
"I just told them 'no, we can't do this.'" Arturo smiled nervously.
"Funny because I talked to someone at Dove and they told me a completely different story," Scott's admission surprised Arturo, "Oh yeah, I knew about the Dove account being lost. I was just waiting for you to tell me," Scott looked at his calendar, "two weeks later."
"So why did you ask if I told you when you already knew?"
"Because asshole, I was supposed to know from your mouth first." Scott countered. "Dove also told me you were quite rude to them."
Arturo grabbed a handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped his brow. "They did? I don't see how. I was professional to them. I know it sounds like something different occurred and…"
"No, actually it sounds you fucked up royally and you tried to cover it up so I wouldn't notice it," Scott fumed, "let me ask you: are you stupid or do you think I'm stupid because it's definitely one of the two."
"Scott, I don't think you're stupid…"
"So, then it's you as I thought."
"Ice, we can fix this," Another creative director, Jack, chimed in, "we can cut some things from the budget and get rid of some of the extras. It's totally fixable."
Scott's eyes didn't leave Arturo's face. "Don't say this to save his job, Jack. I'll can your ass too right now."
"I'm being honest, Ice." Jack tried to take the heat off Arturo. "It's totally fixable."
Scott tapped his finger on the table. "This is what we're going to do. Since this fuck-up is so goddamn fixable, I want to see evidence of it first thing tomorrow morning." He spoke to Arturo. "If I don't see it, you're going downtown to the nearest unemployment office by noon."
"This conversation is finished." He pressed the button to end the conference call. He stood up, buttoned his suit and walked out of the conference room. He went into his office and slammed the door shut behind him. A few seconds later, a loud ‘fuck!’ followed by the sound of glass shattering was heard from Scott’s office.
The other execs gathered their belongings and headed back to their departments. The interns were frozen in fear. "Is he always like that?" Nate asked Elissa.