GUEST POST: My Summer Internship with Nike
Ijeoma Arum '14
Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 9:15am

This summer I had the great opportunity to intern with Nike at their world headquarters in Portland, OR.

I really enjoyed my time at Nike and the breadth of experiences I had. During my first few weeks I had the opportunity to help with a fashion show that the VPs of Apparel, Design, and Marketing organized to present the new apparel initiatives to the global apparel team. I was very excited to help out. The show included cool items like the 2014 world cup jerseys, which at that time hadn’t even been seen by the teams. I felt very exclusive. Nike values the art of storytelling – the company invests a lot of time and resources into conveying not only a message, but a feeling. The same attention to detail is required whether the story is aimed externally, at the public, or internally, to other employees. So, the show was an awesome way for me to see this firsthand and watch the apparel team’s excitement toward the company’s trajectory.

Nike is a non-hierarchical, matrix organization. It has a very collaborative culture and everyone there is very approachable. This was essential as I progressed through my projects and leveraged relationships to access any needed data. By the end of the summer, I had met with about 60 people and felt like I was really a part of the team.

A summer at Nike wouldn’t be complete without some extraordinary events (and we had quite a few of them while I was there). The North America team threw a carnival to celebrate their FY12 results (they achieved $10B in revenue), Nike basketball took over the campus and hosted events with LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and the Nike skateboarding team built a skate park for a one-day event.

Overall, I had a great experience (a lot of fun and a lot of learning). I appreciated my summer as it reminded me to value employee cultures and organizations that provide balance in the workplace (i.e., those that are able to work hard and play hard). 


Your experience sounds like a lot of fun. I wish to experience that environment this upcoming summer. Could you give me some advice as to how your application process was and if you contacted anyone prior to your interview to get your name out there?

Xi Xavier! The recruitment process for Nike would be classified as a true enterprise search. So, in order to get in contact with them, I started in the fall to connect with Columbia alum and recruiters to learn more about the organization and express my interest. This was very helpful because I learned about the company structure, values, and career opportunities - information that I leveraged in my interviews. My first interview was in mid-January and I received my offer early March. So, I would suggest that you spend the first few months of your first year learning what companies recruit on campus and which ones you will have to actively pursue. That way you can begin to connect directly with companies in November to get your name out there. I hope this helps! Ijeoma

Hey! So when you say you worked on yor projects, what do you mean by that? What exactly are some tasks that Nike has you doing. I go to a fashion school right now, which can lead me to great connections. I was really looking forward to getting an internship with Nike. Any advice on how I should get started? P.S did you meet any "celebrities" while you were there? :)

Hi Jay! Projects vary from team to team, but one of my projects involved analyzing the performance of two of Nike's newest apparel initiatives and suggesting areas for improvement. I also worked on a cross functional project with other Nike interns to improve Nike's operational execution in key running markets. But, as a fashion student, you would probably work with a team (and on a project) that can leverage your area of expertise. There is no formula for getting an internship, but I would suggest you start by going online and creating a profile in their "community". It requires you to upload your resume and cover letter, which would get you in their system. I would also search LinkedIn to see who works at the company that you can connect with. And I didn't "meet" anyone, but I got to play basketball with LeBron James… sorta. During a week-long Nike basketball event, I volunteered at a basketball court in front of a building where he was having a meeting. When his meeting was over, he came out and started shooting some hoops on my court. It was AWESOME! -Ijeoma

Hi Ijeoma - great information! Do you feel an internship at Nike would greatly increase the chances of securing a full-time position? Thanks!

Hi Shea, Doing an internship does increase your chances to some extent - Nike gets a chance to assess how well you fit with the company, so it's possible to leave your internship with a full time offer. Even if you don't get an offer, an internship provides you with an opportunity to meet people and learn about other functional areas of the company - which could also lead to a full time offer through networking. But if you don't intern with Nike, you still have a good chance of joining the Nike team because they do quite a bit of full time recruiting in the fall of 2nd year. Happy Holidays! Ijeoma

Hi Ijeoma - Thanks for posting this helpful post. I know there is a lot of Interns that apply for the Nike internship program every hard is it to get an internship at Nike? I'v heard its pretty competitive so your opinion is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Hi Ijeoma, I'm currently in the process of applying for the summer marketing internship with Nike. I'm currently employed with them and this would be my next step in furthering a potential career with Nike. I would love to hear any advice you have on the application process and any insight that you may have on standing out and gaining an edge. It sounds like you had a remarkable experience! I look forward to hearing from you!

Hi Angela, as a current employee I think that you have a great advantage - you know the company, the products, and the culture. I would suggest you reach out to your head coach (and any district level employees involved in your development) to express your interest because they are in a position to advocate for you with people at WHQ. Nike has a program called "Field First" which is designed to help exceptional store team members transition into roles at WHQ - so I would ask them about it and see how you can participate. I would also ask them about any stretch assignments that you could be considered for because these could provide another opportunity for you to come work at WHQ. Hope this helps! -Ijeoma

Hi Michael, it is very competitive. I don't remember the exact numbers, but they receive hundreds of applications for about one hundred intern positions. If I recall correctly, the acceptance rate is less than 10%. Given the volume of applications they receive, it's not uncommon to hear that some employees applied to multiple positions over an extended period of time (sometimes a few years) before they were given an offer to join the company. So, if you don't get an internship offer it isn't the end of the world - you can also apply for full time positions as a second year MBA student. -Ijeoma

Hi! I had a quick question. Ive worked for Converse and Cole Haan and know the head manager of Niketown New York personally who would vouch for me when contacted. How much would this affect the application being looked at online? I go to a small private college.

Hi Omarr, I can't say definitively how much that recommendation would help your application - I don't work in HR so I'm not privvy to details on what goes into making hiring decisions. However, I would assume that the Head Coach at Niketown New York is a very influential person, so having them personally recommend you would only help your application and not hinder it. -Ijeoma

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