The following was written by Maddie Fiorante, a rising senior on the UGA Equestrian team. She is currently majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Communication Studies and participated in an internship with Nike during the summer of 2019.
Since freshman year, I dreamed about applying to the Nike Internship Program through the UGA Athletics Association. I watched other student-athletes and older teammates come back from a summer at the Swoosh with a new energy (and lots of new shoes) and I craved the experience they had. Fall of junior year, I waited for that email to come for weeks. When it finally did, I had a resume and cover letter at the ready.
Being from Portland, Oregon, Nike was a part of my home’s culture. In elementary school, when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” most kids respond with, “I want to work at Nike.”
So, after multiple rounds of interviews, when I got a phone call with an offer to intern with Nike’s North America Communications team, it felt like the first step to fulfilling my dreams.
I walked into the Tiger Woods building on the first day in absolute awe. Driving in the long entrance with flags from every country, walking by the famous Ronaldo soccer field (home of Nike’s summer Thirst Thursday events), seeing athletes in sculptures and murals everywhere I looked, the Nike Lake, was a different kind of beauty.
I worked with my manager specifically on running and basketball categories, meaning my projects included the Giannis Zoom Freak 1 shoe launch in Athens, Greece, and the Nike Joyride Run Flyknit shoe in Los Angeles, California. I helped make our Joyride messaging come to life through strategies and tactics at the event launch. I was fortunate enough to fly with the team to LA and work on the media relations side by product seeding our media and helping coordinate the event running smoothly. We worked with an agency to ensure a treadmill class surrounded by screens displaying imagery and a creative playlist would give our media the best possible experience when trying the shoe for the first time. Then, we took our media on a beach run in Santa Monica complete with fun activities and a guest appearance by Olympic runner, Aries Merritt.
I even got to participate in one of the treadmill classes led by Nike master trainers, Kirsty Godso and Bec Wilcock, and go home with a pair of Joyrides before they were released to the public!
In addition to Joyride, I worked with other cross-category interns to create a top-secret launch plan from start to finish for a football product, coming to College Football Playoffs in 2021. We then presented our idea to Nike teams such as football marketing, sustainability, digital and my team in communications. Everyone loved our ideas, and we are hoping to see them come to life at CFP next year.
Besides working on amazing projects, I met with mentors across all of Nike. One of my favorite mentors was a UGA Equestrian alum, which showed me how Georgia Athletics and Grady College really are a network to help guide students. Bulldawg Nation definitely reaches far and wide.
Nike was the best experience I could have ever asked for. I made friends from universities all over the nation, gained invaluable experience, made connections to people all bonded by a love of sport and, of course, came home with a quite a few pairs of shoes. I am so thankful for UGAAA’s relationship with Nike, and for the lessons learned as a student-athlete that gave me the team-orientated, flexible, reliable attitude that helped me succeed at work every day. I will always cherish my summer at Nike, the many hiking and rafting adventures with other interns, my amazing and intelligent NA Comms team and even the running! #JustDoIt