It all started in second grade when I was bitten by a deer tick and contracted Lymes Disease. At the age of 8, I already had arthritis-like symptoms, and my knees were among the most affected joints. From that time, I cared more about how shoes made my knees feel instead of how they looked. Nike worked the best, plus Nike always had cool new innovations and technologies coming out, and I wanted to try them all. The obsession with Nike shoes remained, when it was time to select a college and begin planning what I wanted to do with my life. After visiting Iowa State and seeing their Kinesiology program and Biomechanics lab, I knew that working with footwear was going to be my passion. I spent two years in college volunteering in the biomechanics lab without ever having taken an anatomy, physics or biomechanics class. I also spent that same two years applying to internships at Nike and emailing anyone whose name I came across. When neither the e-mail nor online internship application process worked, I took a leap of faith and moved to Portland, OR, to attend Portland State University on a National Student Exchange Program and be in Nike’s backyard. Needless to say, my parents were a little surprised, since I hadn’t really mentioned this to them, and I didn’t have an internship when I moved!
Again, for the next six months I emailed any Nike connections and applied for internships, this time with a different objective. I was in Portland, and I was determined to intern at Nike. I was lucky enough to spend seven months in the Nike Sports Research Lab as their first ever intern… which also meant there was no game plan, no set schedule, and no other interns on campus yet. I spent seven months learning about biomechanics, human physiology and the inner workings of Nike. It was a dream come true!
I went back to Iowa State knowing that I needed to apply for graduate school, so I could come back to Nike someday and hopefully land a job and make a difference. My professors and academic advisor helped me determine my graduate course of action. After finishing my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology, I went to the University of Tennessee and got my Masters of Science in Biomechanics… with the University of Oregon Sports Marketing Center in mind as my next step.
Once I moved to Oregon, I hit the ground running as far as networking goes. The week before University of Oregon prologue started, I spent three days at Nike making new connections and reconnecting with old ones. During my first year at Oregon, I put over 8,000 miles on my car just driving back and forth from Eugene to Portland making sure I was putting the proper foundation in place for, hopefully, working at Nike after earning my MBA in Sports Marketing at Oregon.
During my second year, I was spending even more time in Portland, only now sharing time with the University of Oregon Sports Product Management Initiative which gave me great visibility across the entire sports product industry. When it came time to actually start applying for jobs, the process went pretty quickly. I had met some of the hiring managers at Nike, and I’d already been talking with a recruiter. When I got a job interview, I tailored my resume to that job, I had references from Nike employees and I nailed down my situations for competency based questions. Everyone I’d shared my goal with, including friends, family, professors, mentors and my boss all helped me prepare for this moment. Although nervous, I went into the interview feeling comfortable and confident. After about a week of waiting, I was offered a job as a Footwear Developer II… a job that was, for me, 18 years in the making.
Elizabeth Brock, M.S
Warsaw Sports Marketing Center