3 months before


Julia picked at a thread protruding from the sleeve of her yellow school sweatshirt. Looking out the large window next to her gray desk, she could easily see the football stadium and hear the band practicing. The football team was, somehow, 10-1 on the year and playing their archrival tomorrow.

A Business major in her senior year with a 3.95 GPA, Julia didn’t usually care much for football. But she had woken up to snow on the windowsill, and if she could show some school spirit and be warm at the same time, then what was the harm in wearing that old sweatshirt to class? Besides, football was a welcome distraction. Her Business Law lecture about products liability sure wasn’t helping.

Usually, she didn’t have any problems staying focused in class. In fact, when other people had to miss a lecture because of illness or family emergencies, they tended to contact Julia because she always had detailed lecture notes and she was always willing to share them.

The problem was that ever since her roommate, Saanvi, had told her about their friend Braden hearing back from Vision Consulting, it took every ounce of restraint Julia could muster not to check and refresh her email every five seconds.

She had interviewed with Vision Consulting last month, and she wanted that consultant position as much or more than she had ever wanted anything. For Julia, a chance to work at Vision Consulting, a prestigious consulting firm specializing in innovation-driven organizational change, represented the pinnacle of her professional aspirations, and their offer might already be waiting in her inbox.

Then Julia noticed the professor staring at her through those owlish dark-rimmed glasses.

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[Click on The Professor to see what he says]

“Julia, can you name the three different kinds of product defects that might lead to manufacturer or supplier liability?”

Julia sighed. Of course she could. They had covered that in Week 1 of the semester.

[Click on Julia to see what she says]

“Um…design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects?”

[Click on The Professor to see what he says]

“Was that a question?” The professor smirked. “We covered this material a long time ago.”

The class tittered. Julia’s cheeks flushed.

[Click on The Professor to see what he says]

“In any case, yes, that’s correct,” the professor went on, turning to the rest of the students. “So, let’s suppose that we purchase a jet ski for…”

Julia tugged on the thread again, and it broke off in her hand. She had not slept well since the interview. She had spent weeks preparing for it; she even had two green binders full of meticulous notes, tabbed, cross-referenced, and color-coded.

Even though she thought she did a fine job, she kept having dreams that replayed parts of it in detail. Julia was so tired of reliving the moment when the interviewer asked her to talk about a time that she resolved team conflict, and the only thing that came to mind was her two roommates arguing about whether they should get fried chicken or salads for dinner.

As the professor droned, Julia pretended to be taking notes on her laptop as she logged into her email account. At the top of the page, the subject line read,

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“Vision Consulting. Dear Julia, Congratulations…”

The whole class turned and looked over at Julia, who, realizing that she had just let out a squeak, put a trembling hand across her mouth.