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My year working for Nike

Third year BA (Hons) Fashion Communication and Promotion student Mark Draper decided to take a year out in between his second and third year of degree study to get some hands-on experience working for sportswear retailer Nike in The Netherlands. Read on to find out about what he got up to on his year out.

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How did you manage to get a year-long placement at Nike?

I was able to obtain my years internship by simply applying on the Nike careers website. I did apply in my first year but my application was half-hearted; I filled out the bare minimum and got nothing.

I tried again in my second year once I had a stronger CV, filled out the application boxes in a bit more detail, you know, just actually tried this time.

There were a number of weeks without any contact, to the point where I forgot I applied, then I got an email regarding a self-reordered interview where I answered questions, followed by a digital interview.

What did your role involve? 

My role was Category Merchandiser for men’s sportswear apparel. The majority of my role consisted of me looking after product within the system, dealing with future season samples as well as having daily meetings.

As a merchandiser you work ahead of what is currently out in the market, based on factors such as insights and market research. You do not create the product – once the product is made, you select (based on your findings) what will work for your area.  

Merchandising is like being a chef. You have to scope the area for what is working and what your competitors are doing.

Based on that information, you then create a menu and from there people buy from your selection.

During my time, I was very fortunate to be in charge of the men’s sportswear headwear range, so here I created the menu for sportswear headwear in Europe for the majority of 2020.

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“Merchandising is like being a chef. You have to scope the area for what is working and what your competitors are doing.”

What did you find the most challenging?

People think the work is hard and challenging, don’t get me wrong, it is when you are new and have no idea. But you are allowed to fail and make mistakes, they know you are new, and they want you to grow.

It was the networking and office lifestyle that was challenging to me. Being part of a million-and-one email chains with information everywhere, having meetings, and then obtaining the key pieces from a three-hour meeting, presenting key work to crowds of peers and people you don’t know.

These things got easier and better during my time there, but it was definitely the social side of work that was the biggest challenge to me.

What did you enjoy the most about working with Nike?

Just being there. The campus is amazing – it has a canteen, free gym and race track. Sounds corny but it has always been a dream to one day work at European Headquarters (EHQ) and then World Headquarters (WHQ) so just to be there was enough. One day you are dealing with product and then the next day LeBron James comes in to do some training. MADNESS!

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Do you think taking a year out to work in this role has helped you with your final year of study? 

100%. Looking back I don’t think I would be ready for the real world if I hadn’t taken the year out.

During my internship I learned routine, deadlines, social skills and independent working. One thing that came up a lot was dealing with people and problems, taking emotion and pride away to best combat an issue.

Usually, if you are in a group with someone you don’t like, the work normally suffers. That can’t happen in industry. You have to suck it up, get up and in early, do the work. 

What would your advice be to students who are considering taking on a work placement (long-term or short-term)?

Go out there and just do it. Not a Nike ad, promise. It was the best year of my life. I learned and grew so much. You learn so much about yourself on a daily basis, get out of your bubble and explore!

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