Jun 5, 2012

Posted by in Articles, Random | 69 Comments

The Nike Internship

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but the last couple of months has been really busy.

This summer, I will be taking part in the Nike Design Internship program, which runs for 12 weeks. Getting into the internship was a tough challenge which needed a lot of hard work and focus, but at the end, it was all worth it! In this blog post, I’d like to share with you the process of how to apply, and what I submitted for my portfolio and how things worked out, and hopefully it could serve you if you share the same dream of working for Nike at their World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

Quick summary

If you intend to apply, then start planning early.

The Design Internships get posted on their website around mid January of every year, and I started planning for how to present my portfolio around 3 months in advance, starting in October. You will be competing against thousands of other applicants, so the stronger you prepare your portfolio, and knowing that you’ve done your best, would at least give you some confidence that you’ve done all that’s in your hands.

Nike offers different categories under Design:
- Apparel Design
- Graphic Design (Apparel/Footwear)
- Graphic Design (Brand Design)
- Footwear, Product, and Equipment Design
- Color Design
- Materials Design
you can refer to their official website for all details: http://nikeinc.com/pages/internships#tab2-tab

As for myself, coming from a Graphic Design background and pursuing my Masters in Industrial design, I felt best applying for Brand Design.

As part of the application requirements, Nike requires you to send them a hard copy of your portfolio. Most printed portfolios which I’ve seen, are just printed pieces put in a nice folder with the applicant’s name on it. I wanted to step away from this conventional way of presenting my work without going beyond the extreme. I came across many ideas, and I applied and tried making most of them, so their was a lot of trial and error involved. I definitely spent a very good amount of money on materials and printing which I never even ended up using because it just didn’t  turn out the way I had imagined it, or it just wasn’t much of a good idea to start with.

After lots of trial and error, my final idea was to  make 8 small booklets, each being a project, 8 pages long with each page showing the process and life cycle of the project. I tried to have a variety of projects between Typography, Print, and Branding to present my different strengths in different areas of design. I had also planned to to place the 8 booklets, mixed with some inspirational quotes on some hard stock paper, in a nice box, to present my portfolio as an elegant gift. Finding the box took me about a month, I had searched almost every website, visited all the Art and gift stores within my reach, and called up companies that made boxes from Canada, to the States and all the way to China. Some of the boxes I had to buy in bundles, which I did, but still failed to get a good looking box at the size I wanted. It was my lucky day when I had gone to the mall for some shopping, when I passed over The Body Shop store, they had some special edition boxes made for the Christmas time, with their soaps and products in them, which was just PERFECT for me, the perfect size, perfect colors, and just 1 logo at the bottom of the box which I could easily get rid of. Once that was sorted out, I got my booklets printed, hassled in finding some black foam to cut and place according to the box and booklets size, and got every other detail sorted out. By the time I was done with this portfolio it was towards the end of December.

Yes, it was a struggle, but their was a real strong driving force keeping me focused and making me want to make this portfolio as perfect as possible. If working at Nike, or any other company is and always has been your dream, you should go all the way then. You should disregard how much time it takes, how much money it costs you, and how much effort and hard work it takes. If you’re willing to do so, then you have no limitations as to what you want to and can do.

I had mailed my portfolio to Nike around January 18th, and it took around 1 month to hear back from them. One of the Design Recruiters has emailed me asking for a PDF version of my portfolio, I guess at this stage they had selected the finalist candidates for the position, and the managers or creative directors at Nike would go through the PDF versions and make their final decisions.  After sending my PDF version, it took about 6 weeks, 6 weeks of pain waiting to hear back, I got my acceptance and offer letter from Nike! I guess at the end it was all well worth the wait.

Every year Nike accepts applicants to their Internship Program in all sorts of fields, whether its design or non design related, this year there will be 17 design interns joining the program, in different divisions and categories. For every position, Nike receives around 1000 applications, so imagine how many people are competing to be apart of this world class design team. For me personally, joining the Nike team and working at their headquarters was more than a dream, and an Internship is a first step of a very long journey, but the point is, nothing is impossible, as long as you have your mind set on it, and are always motivated to push your self harder every time you don’t reach your goals, you will for sure achieve the unachievable!

I plan to blog about my Internship experience at least once a week for the next 12 weeks, and talk about the things we do, collaborations, the Nike Campus, etc… If you have any questions or requests please feel free to leave me a message here on the blog.

Finally, I’d like to give a special thanks to everyone I’ve been in contact with in Nike so far for all their help and maximum cooperation to help me with my paper work and visa documents, i’m definitely very thankful!

I’ll leave you with pictures of my portfolio, and what I had presented to Nike:

  1. Jessica Hale says:

    Where can I go to get more information? I would like to contact Nike to ask a few questions about the internship

  2. I really appreciate you posting this because you are willing to share your experience with those who share the same dream so Thank You.

  3. My dream is to work for nike, ideally brand design but I don’t have a degree and am not in school anymore, any help of info?


    • Hi James,

      In order to be eligible for the Internship program you will need to be a student. As of not having a degree, I think if you have the skills and what they are looking for then you should give it a shot and apply for a job, otherwise work hard on improving your works and never give up!!

      Good luck!

  4. Hey, just wondering if there are positions available as an engineering major? I don’t have a portfolio and don’t do much in terms of design projects in my classes other than using engineering programs such as AutoCAD…

    Just wondering if you had any advice for an engineering major trying to apply for a nike internship? Thanks

    • There were a couple of engineers from Mechanical to Software/Computer Science among the interns, so you can definitely apply. In terms of requirements and skill set I’m afraid I can’t answer that as I have no idea, sorry about that.

      Good luck!

  5. Aquiel Miller says:


    Even though I have the slightest idea of who you are, I am extremely proud of you, your ambition, and your zeal for making it where you are trying to go. I share the same dream of working for Nike, and sometimes the dream seems so far-fetched. Here, you made it real for me and inspired me to continue to pursue my dream. Thank you. Continue to impress their socks off.

    Forever grateful,

    Aquiel Miller

    • Thanks Aquiel!

      If you checkout my “Leadership & Success” post from a speaker series with Kris Aman, he put it nicely and said, if we have a dream that we are serious about then we shouldn’t give up, otherwise we’re just talking the talk and not walking the walk. So no matter what it takes we shouldn’t give up and keep trying if it’s really a dream.

      All the best and good luck!

  6. I am a fashion merchandising student with a business/marketing minor and I am looking for a summer internship and would absolutely love to intern with Nike! I just don’t understand how I apply or what position I should be looking for under the job search. I want to make sure it is an internship that I am applying for and not a regular full-time position. Any advice?


  7. Yusuf Al Zeera says:

    I came across this website almost by accident but it immediately got my full attention. Very inspirational stuff out there. Your name sounds you are from Bahrain, but in any case, please continue your aspirations so you would inspire people around you.

  8. Hello! Well I am actually really young, but I have already started looking into internships and this is definitely one I’m interested in. I know you made this post forever ago but I hope you see this.. What type of things did you include in your portfolio?

  9. Hi Hussain,
    First off, incredible job you did last year with your portfolio.
    I’m not sure if you’re at liberty to say, but is there someone in HR (who deals with internships specifically) you would recommend, for those of us applying this year, to address our cover letter to?

    It’d be great to avoid the ‘To Whom It May Concern’ line, thanks!

    • I’m afraid I can’t share any names, but I believe theirs a team of recruiters so anyone one of them could be checking your application really, as far as i know.

      Otherwise, ‘To Whom It May Concern’ should be perfectly fine.

      Best of luck.

  10. Davis H. says:

    Wow. I stumbled upon this while Googling how to get an internship at Nike as their website had a requirement for a 3.3 minimum GPA on their website (which I do not have).
    And your work and the determination is amazing. I also want to try for an internship at Landor, so this has inspired me to go above and beyond with my applications to both Nike and Landor in the branding sectors! It’s a bit late this year, but I will be aiming for next year.
    Again, amazing work!

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