The young man smiles nervously as he waits in the reception area of Sterling Cooper. He grips his hat firmly in his hands and taps it over and over with his fingers. His tan overcoat spills across his wrists and over his briefcase and glistens ever so slightly from the misty morning outside.
Chet Reynolds has done this before. He waits and waits and waits for an opportunity to leave his mark, to sell his wares, and he hopes that an opportunity comes his way. Such is life after college, one where internships are hard to come by in today’s economy.
Sterling Cooper is different. This is the real deal. Through a friend of a friend of a friend, Chet landed an interview to an internship position at Sterling Cooper. He doesn’t know the specifics yet but Chet puts on a brave face as he prepares to sell himself to people that sell for a living. It will not be easy.
He takes a deep breath as a pretty, voluptuous redhead steps forward. “Mr. Reynolds? Good morning, I’m Joan Holloway,” she coos. The secretary leads Reynolds through the labyrinth of offices and hallways and eventually to a tiny room about the size of a coat rack at one of the smaller off-Broadway restaurants in the city. He is a long way from off-Broadway, a long way from Trinity College and The Gunnery before it.
A short time later he learns that the internship is actually a position in the mail room. He is grossly overqualified. The interviewer smiles as he reviews Chet’s resume. Chet folds his hands to hide his disappointment. He sits still as the interviewer adjusts his glasses and asks questions about his experience sorting mail by account type and department.
It is an opportunity, indeed, but not what Chet wants. He stands up and shakes the man’s hand as he agrees to the position. It pays $70 a week and the hours are long. Chet smiles and stammers something about handling it. He hides his nervousness behind excitement. He may be a mail room clerk but he’s with Sterling Cooper now. “A great opportunity,” he says with a smile. The interviewer appears underwhelmed by Chet’s excitement. “Just show up on Monday, be on time and we’ll take it from there,” the interviewer says coldly. “If you do a good job, you move up,” he says. He motions to the door. Chet shakes the man’s hand and walks out of the office in a blur.
It isn’t the job that excites Chet Reynolds, no; it is the opportunity. It is the building. It is the prestige. It is Sterling Cooper, after all these years.