By Michael Evenchik
This summer I was lucky enough to work for NIKE Inc. at their World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. In my role as a Global Direct-to-Consumer Merchandising intern, I was exposed to all facets of the business and was given great ownership of some projects I thought only full-time employees worked on. NIKE works in a matrix environment and thus interns are placed on teams that work with specific parts of NIKE’s global business, often with heavy loads to carry. My team was the Global Factory (outlet) Store Merchandising team.
My three main projects were essentially the dream work of anyone who loves sports and enjoys basketball shorts and Dri Fit T-shirts over suits and ties…
-My main project: working with partners from around the world to create a profitable method for getting the best products in stores on a consistent basis.
–My side project: creating merchandise liquidation strategies for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
-My intern project: coming up with innovative ideas on transforming retail spaces worldwide with a team of interns from all parts of the NIKE matrix. At the end… the top teams were able to present to the legendary NIKE founder, Phil Knight.
Outside the office, I got the full taste of what NIKE is really all about. It is truly the corporate embodiment of “work hard, play hard”. I had heard several recruiters claim this, but brushed it off, as I was sure it couldn’t beat the entrepreneurial lifestyle I was convinced was right for me. This all changed after a summer full of: Thirst-Thursdays, Half-day Fridays, visits from LeBron James, discussions with Kevin Durant, pictures with Paul Rodriguez, team meetings over a beer at the cafeteria, and the formation of a tight-knit group of friends who were so proud of our work and fun that we named ourselves “The Board”, convinced we will all be executives in the future.
Through the projects, late nights of work, and amazing ‘extra-curricular’ events organized by the NIKE recruiters (river rafting, rock climbing, intern Olympics VS Intel), I had the absolute best summer of my life. It was so easy to see how my experiences at the University of Arizona, along with my time at Eller prepared me to succeed from the day I applied to the day I came back to Arizona for my final semester. For every project I worked on, person I networked with, and even as I officially accepted my offer to return full-time, I referenced an experience from my time at Eller, either in the classroom or on the Sports Management Study Abroad program during the summer of 2012.
Now for some advice… The part where I’m supposed to impart some magical wisdom I learned this summer to the few people who are still reading at this point. Quite honestly, many of you are probably my age or older, with experience equal, or greater to mine, and I have no business trying to teach you anything. But here is my best attempt to tell you what I learned out of the most challenging and rewarding summer of my life, and hopefully you can pull out some valuable tips:
1. It will take blind luck: I heard about the internship opportunity from my roommate who saw it on Facebook and just happened to mention it to me.
2. It will take hard work: In school, people will tell you that if you do your work diligently you will get what you want. In the real world, I quickly learned that you are expected to do your work, some of your coworkers’ work, and be ready to answer any question that could possibly be dreamt up about your work.
3. It takes an opportunity: Find an internship your junior year. I never thought it was important until I realized that my options instead of NIKE were my couch or extra summer courses. The value of having a quality internship on your resume is immeasurable as you begin your job hunt when returning to school.
4. YOU will have to seize the opportunity: The best way to do this in my opinion is, BE BOLD! I received this piece of advice on my first day at NIKE. Always take the chance, go above and beyond, and don’t be afraid to voice your opinions. You’re a soon-to-be college graduate, fully capable of contributing to even the most intimidating companies and circumstances.