Road Movie: Chapter 3

“Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, everybody!” Frida pranced through the office, holding her two shot glasses. “Frida! Stop encouraging drinking at the workplace! And is that vodka? You better not spill that on the carpet!” Virginia growled at her before retreating to her office. “Shut up! Cramping my Thirst-days! So rude!” Frida barked before continuing down the hallway. It was Thursday, so in Frida’s case, “Thirst-day.” She was too lazy to say the phrase “Thirsty Thursday”, so she abbreviated it on her own. That was just the way Frida was. She did not care what other people thought about her. She marched to the beat of her own drum. Virginia and Justin found Frida to be irritating, but Maria and Dakota thought it was remarkable and refreshing how free-spirited somebody as old as Frida could be. “Jesus, if we weren’t paid so well, I would have already quit.” The Korean girl was having a particularly bad day today; Marriott International decided to pull out of doing business with her and as the biggest hotel company in the world, that was a huge blow to the sales manager’s pride. So as much as she would like to drink her sorrows away, Virginia knew she needed to weigh her options: would she try to win back Marriott as a client? Or try to find new people? Regardless, she was going to be spending the first of her Thursday doing intense research. Meanwhile, Dakota was on a field trip: she was visiting her alma mater, specifically, University of Chicago Medicine.

Due to Hillary Jenkins’ Client Confidentiality Policy, Dakota was not allowed to leak marketing strategies or as Frida would say “double dip” between similar clients with similar problems. Dakota was first meeting up with the PR team for UChicago Medicine to see what kind of marketing or targeting they desired. Should the request be too similar to that of a recent client (recent meaning within the past year), then Dakota would have to reject the work offer. It was this very policy that made Hillary Jenkins one of the most renowned marketing firms in the midwest. Any client can go to them knowing that they are getting a unique marketing experience or at least a strategy that would be guaranteed to work. “Hi, my name is Allison. I’m in charge of Public Relations here in UChicago Medicine.” A very upbeat looking young woman with auburn hair greeted Dakota at the front office. “Hi, I’m Dakota. We spoke over the phone earlier today? I’m from Hillary Jenkins.” The two shook hands. “Here, let’s go inside to my office and we can talk about some things we needed help with.” Allison gestured behind the receptionist’s counter. The two walked into a decently sized office, well-light, but with no windows. They sat across each other around a large wooden table.

“Alright, so that’s our issue right now.” She summarized. UChicago wanted to increase their campaign for safe sex, especially due to a recent sex scandal amongst students that caused several members of a now-defunct business fraternity to contract herpes. Obviously, this sort of issue needed immediate attention, which was why Allison called Hillary Jenkins in the first place. “Alright, well use social media, not just the UChicago Medicine accounts, but the general UChicago accounts to announce to everyone the importance of safe sex. Maybe even include cute graphics on condoms, just so that we can make it more lighthearted, even though it obviously is a serious issue.” Dakota suggested. “Alright, we’ll make sure to make a public announcement today, and then I’ll have our graphic designer come up with something. Thanks for the suggestion, Dakota!” Allison grinned at her. “No problem. Just doing my job!”

Talking about safe sex just reminded Dakota about when they first learned about sex in the 6th grade. It was health class and the teacher, Ms. Carolle, a recent college graduate who was incredibly unenthusiastic, was demonstrating how people were supposed to have safe sex using a condom, a cucumber, and her fingers. She went on to say that all children were born through sex, which is why humans do it. Needless to say, it was an incredibly traumatic day for the entire class, and Dakota would go home later that night and awkwardly avoid eye contact with her parents, knowing full well what they had to do to conceive her. But then again, there was no easy way to talk about the birds and the bees. Hearing about the sex scandal just made Dakota question what they are teaching children in school these days. The fact that they were not smart enough to use condoms was concerning to her. And thinking that just cemented her realization that she was no longer a kid.

Typically, most marketers would have a time frame to come up with a marketing plan, based on research taken from surveys, competitor analysis, and many other factors. But Dakota’s creativity and experience is what got her this far. Well, that coupled with the fact she was dating an aspiring doctor. Between her marketing education and Phillip’s medical knowledge, she needed little effort in pitching advertising suggestions to doctors or dealing with medical related marketing challenges. Hillary Jenkins was also unique in the job responsibilities. In most companies, a sales manager refers to a person managing accounts and selling to them or making sales through them. In this firm, the sales being referred to are just the clients themselves, and how the managers handle the marketing challenges they present. It was slightly different in that there is a lot more marketing and public relations and a lot less actual sales, but Dakota would rather it be that way. Handling sales would mean math, specifically the top line and revenue, something she would rather not dabble with. Arithmetic and Dakota did not mix.

“Ugh, I can’t believe they require us to take accounting.” A 20 year-old Dakota was struggling through her junior year, specifically managerial accounting. The course was required because she was a general business major first and a marketing concentration second. “But didn’t you already do financial accounting?” One of Dakota’s friends, a small Korean girl named Jocelyn, frowned at her. The two were currently in the UChicago library, doing Organizational Behavior homework underneath the large glass dome. It was almost like a greenhouse, but instead of plants, there were rows of bookshelves and desks. “Well, obviously, but I scrapped by with a C.” “Oh, well then,” The Korean girl frowned. Jocelyn was an accounting and finance double concentrate, so numbers came more naturally to her. “Here, I can help you.” She offered. “Oh my god, you’re a life saver.” Dakota sighed in relief. Luckily, Jocelyn’s tutoring was useful, and Dakota was able to finish her last math-related course ever with a high A. But on Jocelyn’s end, she was astounded by how bad somebody who got into UChicago could be at math, but equally impressed that Dakota was able to get an A in the end, despite that.

“And it looks like the person who helped the most clients this quarter was…. Dakota!” Confetti rained down on her, as the brunette was stunned. It was finally Friday, and everyone was celebrating the end of the quarter, right before their winter break. “Congratulations!” Maria and Virginia gave her hugs. “Just you wait. It’s going to be quarter one again, and that means football season! I will come back with a vengeance!” Justin boasted. “Big words, but we know you can back them up.” Frida clicked her tongue in agreement. Whenever it was time for the Superbowl or Olympics, Justin’s sales would go through the roof. He would be bombarded with five to six clients a week, and would need either Dakota or Maria helping him, depending on if the clients had some pertinence to health or sportswear. And then there was Olympics season. It had only happened once since Dakota had started working in Hillary Jenkins, but the girls had completely forgotten about Justin during that summer: he had to meet two to three clients every day. So while Dakota was enjoying the fact that she helped the most clients in the last quarter, where flu season was high anyways, she knew that it was a short-lived victory.

“Congratulations!” Phillip wrapped his arms around Dakota in a crushing embrace. “Ugh! Can’t breathe!” Dakota groaned. “Sorry!” He let go of the brunette. “I’m just so proud of my girlfriend! Manager of the Quarter? That’s awesome!” He was beaming from ear to ear. “And how was this semester?” She looked at him. “I got a decent GPA. 3.5.” He chuckled. “Nice!” It was her turn to hug him tightly. After this, it would be only one more year before Phillip would graduate with his M.D. in Pediatrics. Because he was working as a nurse for Northwestern Memorial, that counted towards the school’s internship requirements. Without this experience and completion of the USMLE Step 3 exam, Phillip would not be able to own his own practice down the line. After his last year, he was going to take that exam, and then take a try at owning a children’s hospital. “I’m really proud of both of us. Going into this break, I just can’t wait. We can finally relax a little bit.” Dakota sighed into Phillip’s shoulder.

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