"Good grief! Are you kidding me?!" I yell as my coffee splatters the concrete in front of me.
I bend to pick up the broken cup, noticing the coffee colored paint splatter on the white soles of my shoes. The day has been off to a rocky start since my alarm failed to go off and I barely had time to throw my hair into a messy bun, tug on leggings and fill up a mug with coffee before running out the door to the first day of class.
Graduate school was not for the weak and being in a perpetual state of tiredness was how I spent everyday. I had chosen to go to business school, pursue a masters and work my way up as the head of some company just to prove to my parents that I could. Growing up in a small town had its upsides, like knowing everyone, which also could prove as a downside because no one ever believed I would make something of myself or leave town for good.
I knew everyone in my high school and my parents owned a small business in the heart of the town. Everyone knew us and all about our business. I was born into their dream. The dream that had me helping and growing their business. They had groomed me to help my older brothers take over the business. My two older brothers, who are 7 and 8 years older than I, love the business, whereas I do not. The finance, the monthly struggle, the repetition, it just wasn't for me. So, I embarked on business school in the hopes of climbing the corporate ladder and making money, and a name, for myself far away from small town USA.
I hoofed it across campus as the cold wind blew my hair around my face and I buried deeper into my scarf. I pushed the classroom door open as the entire class turned to look at me.
"Miss O'Hare, nice of you to join us. Please take your seat." Dr. Madison declares as I scurry to my usual seat right next to Gwen. Damn, how was I so late?
"I see someone had a late night," Gwen teases quietly as I grab my MacBook and binder out of my bag.
Gwen has become one of my only friends in this program. She's a small blonde girl, younger than I and insanely smart. She finished two years early and decided to continue to graduate school. We became friends senior year in undergrad when we realized we were on the same degree track. She’s the best study partner and all around decent human I know. We'll all probably be working for her one day.
"Did I miss anything?" I whisper as I flip open my Mac and open my email tab. No new emails and no new notifications, how unsurprising.
"Not really. Dr. Madison was just explaining our internships this semester. Apparently, they start this Thursday and we're expected to attend everyday except Friday, when we’re expected to attend classes," she rolls her eyes.
"All these employers see when they look at us is free labor. When do we get assigned?" I retort. The grad program is heavily based on a year long, unpaid, internship with a large business corporation. We get assigned based on our interests, but for me I just checked all the boxes because I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life.
"Each of you have been assigned and will receive emails from your new supervisor by tonight at 9:00 pm. There will be details about your arrival time, dress, and job description. Remember you are representing our university and program, so don't let us down." Dr Madison announces to the class, almost perfectly on time with my previous question. He continues to drone about professionalism and I tune out for the rest of the class.
After class I walk outside with Gwen who stops in mid sentence to grab her boyfriend, Boyd, who is waiting outside the doors. He engulfs her into a sloppy kiss to which I scrunch up my nose and pretend to be invisible.
“Geeze you two, get a room!” I cough up and act like I’m going to be sick. Gwen lets out a giggle and begins walking with me, hand in hand with her Boyd.
“Oh Fin, when you find the right guy you’ll be acting like a high schooler in public! I can’t wait to make fun of you!” Gwen laughs as I shake my head.
23 years old and no prospects. Not even a tinder match. Maybe there was something wrong with me? I was absolutely average with medium length brown, wavy hair, hazel eyes that sometimes faded to green and a body that blended in with the crowd. Growing up I was never surrounded by friends who made me outgoing, I prefer to stick to a few close people and get through each day without much drama or stress.
“No way. I keep my hands to myself in public. Plus, I don’t think we have to worry about it for a while,” I laugh back, trying to keep my tone upbeat.
“Don’t say that! You’re the whole package, Fin. Beauty, brains, and a sense of humor!” She says patting my shoulder. We continue walking until we reach her car and she turns toward me, hugging me.
“Call me when you get your email and I’ll call you when I get mine!” She squeaks.
“Deal,” I say, nodding my head. I am growing more excited, and anxious, by the minute. This internship could be my big break in beginning my career, or it could be a major backslide, but I push that from my mind.
After saying goodbye to Gwen and her boyfriend, I scurry to my car to get out of the harsh cold. Winters in upstate New York are no joke and with it only being the beginning of October, harsher weather was sure to follow. I didn’t mind, however, I loved the cold.
Driving back to my apartment I left the radio off, enjoying some silence. Once safely inside I open my laptop and wait for an email. My roommate, Tiffany, wasn’t home. She’s an undergrad who plays sports and has a ton of friends. She is rarely home, even to sleep. I don’t know her well, but she cleans up her messes and makes small talk when we're home together, so I’m happy either way.
Dr. Madison had sent a list of possible sights for our internships, so I pull it up and look it over. There were good options like a book publication office, some warehouse business management, some law firms and my eyes freeze over the last name on the list.
No one in there right mind would want to work there. Okay well, actually everyone in my class probably wanted it, but I did not. I wanted to finish the year successful and peacefully and at a place like Swafford excess stress was sure to follow.
Swafford was a multimillion dollar corporation in exports and imports for the United States. If there was money in New York, you could rest assured it was being made at Swafford. Their CEO, Graham Swafford, was said to be New York’s most eligible bachelor and was on the list of Top 10 Riches Young Men in the USA. He was also known as being one of the most ruthless men at the top of the corporate ladder. Regardless, women gushed over him in every social magazine. It was no wonder he was the center of attention because he dripped money and sex. Dark hair, dark eyes, strong shoulders, and a chiseled chin. He was the mysterious type that had a different woman on his arm at every event.
I secretly hoped Gwen would get this internship. She was so smart and she oozed enthusiasm and happiness. She could make it at a cold place like that. I absolutely did not want those long hours, paperwork, and stiff coworkers.
Not longer after I made dinner and completed some online assignments from the first day, my phone lights up with Gwen's name and picture flashing. I answer on the first ring.
“I GOT MY INTERNSHIP AT KNOB PUBLISHING! It’s perfect! I was so hoping to get somewhere with books! You know how I love them! The business side is even better! The email they sent me is long! Here I’m going to forward it to you!” Gwen squeals as my phone dings again with the forwarded message. I scan over the long email. Every detail I could of possibly thought of is covered, including dress code and bathroom breaks.
“Wow Gwen! That’s amazing! I’m so happy for you! I know you’ll do great there!” I say into the phone as I refresh my email, waiting for my internship email anytime.
“Have you gotten yours yet? I know Bryan and Shanna got theirs! They said their emails were scary and full of huge demands already!” She says, almost out of breath.
“No email yet! I’m sure it’ll be soon!” I say with fake enthusiasm.
Gwen begins to fill me in on some other internships that have filled up and as I scan over the list again I realize what’s left is slim and not exactly ideal.
After hanging up the phone, I glance at the clock and realize it’s 9:30 and I still have no email. I decide to take a shower to pass some time so I take a long shower, letting the hot water relax my muscles. I shave my legs and blow dry my hair afterwards. Once I get in bed, I grab my computer, refreshing the tab and watching the page load.
Surely Dr. Madison wouldn’t of forgotten me? It wouldn’t be the first time I encountered some unfortunate luck. I know I’m plain, but come on!
After minutes of watching the refresh dial spin on the email tab, I decide to pull up Netflix and watch some dramatized medical show to tide my mind.
I fall asleep at some point during the show and awake to a loud alert from my laptop.
I glance at the clock. It’s 1:35 am. I hastily click the icon and an email pops up. There’s no return sender listed and the subject is simply “INTERNSHIP”.
I begin reading but stop short at how few words there are.
Please report to Swafford Corporation at 7:15am on Thursday. The front desk receptionist will be expecting you.
My heart flutters and then seems to crash and burn. Did Graham Swafford just send me an email? Graham Swafford knows my name? I’ll be working with HIM?
At first my thoughts go to the gorgeous face of the company. Feeling special but realizing it's foolish, I shake the thoughts off. I’m just an intern. It’s not like he’ll find me special.
Then it hits me: long hours, stacks and stacks of paper, the forthcoming demands. I let out a long sigh.
Of all the places I’m stuck with for a year, it had to be Swafford.