Undergraduate student Sadia Alao, class of 2020, marketing and theater major, writes about Smith School senior Madison Rajhel’s summer internship with Nike Headquarters, based in Beaverton, Oregon.
“Every aspect was 100% unique.”
That’s how senior Madison Rajhel recounts her time interning at Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. She describes how the culture of Nike was “fast-paced, collaborative, and full of life.”
Madison learned about internship possibilities while visiting Nike last August as part of the 3-credit West Coast Innovation Immersion course led by Dr. Mark Wellman, Management & Organization Faculty and Director of the College Park Scholars Business program. Madison and her cohort of 20+ undergraduates spent a full day at Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon meeting with corporate executives including Smith alumni Howard White VP, Creative Director North America/Brand Design and Ken Cohen, Account Operations Director. The students also were introduced to internship possibilities by the head of Nike's recruitment division. From the very beginning, Madison was inspired by Nike and knew she “had to” intern there. She sent a follow-up email to Nike’s head of HR with her cover letter and resume. Before she knew it, Madison was sitting down for an informational interview with the hiring manager of Procurement.
“Procurement is funny because no one knows what it is,” notes Madison. On the first day of her Nike internship, they had a slide that said, “What is procurement?”
Madison praises Nike for wanting it’s interns to learn as they go: “They say we want you to be able to think, we’ll teach you the rest.”
After her time at Nike, she defines procurement as an internal support system that “doesn’t push their own initiatives,” but instead has “internal stakeholders that come to [the team] with a problem.” Within the Procurement department, Madison was tasked with finding out the best possible way to implement a specific operational capability into Nike London stores. Interns were given real projects, with real clients and manufacturers.
As part of Nike’s internship program, there was also a speaker series, where Madison was able to meet with the Chief of Sustainability. The conversation revolved around what drives Nike and its efforts for a more sustainable future.
Nike’s purpose is to serve the athlete. “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Madison says Nike is there to “inspire and aid athletes.”
Every single day at Nike was different for Madison, and they pushed her to educate herself on different departments outside of procurement, as well.
She highlights that “it was the best work experience of [her] life.”
On August 11, when Dr. Wellman brought another group of undergraduates to Nike, Madison was there to share her summer internship experience, along with Smith alum Sam Palmer, ’16 who is now a Sourcing Manager – Digital for Nike. Sam also parlayed his visit to Nike into a full-time job after being a participant in Dr. Wellman’s course. Madison and Sam are just two of the many Smith alums who credit their current employment – or their first job – on the West Coast to being a part of his West Coast Innovation Immersion course.
Madison has since been offered a full time position after graduation, as an International Procurement Analyst.