Nike Internship Helps Shape Marketing Major's Academic Career

November 28, 2017

When she transferred to the University of Montana from Montana State University, marketing major Skyler Anderson knew the College of Business had connections at Nike thanks to alumni Eric Sprunk and Stefanie Strack. But as Anderson wrote in a LinkedIn post earlier this year, she never imagined she’d be one of two UM business students who intern there each year. She did though, working at Nike Skateboarding in Beaverton, Oregon, this summer.

College of Business communications staff asked Anderson to tell us more about herself, about being a student and UM, and about what it was like to hold what Forbes recently ranked one of the top 20 most prestigious internships for 2018. Read the interview below and watch a video with Sklyer here

How did you decide to major in marketing?

I really like psychology, which is why I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney. I started off majoring in management and I was not feeling the psychology aspect. I also didn’t feel pushed, and it just wasn’t creative enough of a major for me. One day, I was talking to some people about what I should do, and they explained to me how marketing is a combination of business and psychology. I thought that was brilliant. So that was how I decided on marketing. I still go back and forth on law school, but I guess we’ll have to see what the future brings!

How has your background growing up on a family farm in rural Montana influenced you?

Growing up on a farm, you learn a lot about life. At the time you don’t see it, but it’s true. I’ve watched a lot of my animals be taken away, and a lot of horses die right in front of my eyes. The fact that an animal, that can’t talk to you, can make such a big impact on your life, definitely made me think more about the impact I can make on the world. My parents were also always very supportive. They always said things like, “we want you to be successful, go make your mark. We’ll be behind you every step of the way.” Having that support makes things so much easier.

How did you make the decision to transfer to the University of Montana from Montana State?

I knew that the University of Montana had a great business school. I also knew a couple people who went to school here, and I had been to Missoula a lot and really liked the town, so I decided to go for it. My advisors were really helpful, and got me through the transferring process and into the classes I needed in a couple weeks. And that was it. It wasn’t Bozeman or MSU that was wrong, it just wasn’t the right fit for me. MSU just wasn’t my school. If it’s not your fit, do something different. Don’t be stagnant. Don’t feel like you’re ever stuck. You’re never stuck, there’s always something you can do about your situation. 

What drew you to the Nike internship?

Coming from MSU I didn’t know anyone who worked for Nike. I don’t even know if we had any alumni who worked there, whereas at UM it’s a lot more common. But I applied even before I had a class at UM, because I read about it and I thought it would be amazing. It was such a longshot, but I figured, if they have alumni there it might be a good opportunity. Plus, it’s Nike, who doesn’t want to work there?

What project during your time at Nike was the most impactful for you?

Going to St. Louis and New York for sell-ins was very interesting for me, I’d never seen anything like that before. It’s when Nike pitches to a buyer, where the buyer is a big department store like JC Penney’s or Famous Footwear. That was mind-boggling to me that there’s this giant company pitching to other giant companies. I thought that experience was just so bizarre and amazing. I got to pitch once, and that was really cool. My role was mainly answering questions, being there to help and a lot of listening.

What were your favorite aspects of your internship with Nike?

A lot of my summer was listening, and that was really important. People who work at Nike are some of the best at what they do, so I gained a lot from them and built a lot of relationships. With most of the people I talked to, we didn’t even talk business, we talked about things like our families, just trying to establish that base relationship with them. You don’t remember the person who asked you about the 2019 market in Japan, you remember the person who’s asking you about your kids and wants to be a part of your life.

Overall, I got really lucky with my internship. The senior sales director for Nike Skateboarding was in charge of my internship and he had a very “explore everything” and “go do everything” attitude, so I sat in on all of our grand meetings, on a bunch of merch meetings and sales meetings, so it wasn’t like a lot of other interns that were segmented into only one area, while I kind of got to do everything and be a part of everything. Because skateboarding has a smaller team they were really open to me just being there and that was really beneficial.

What advice would you give to other students looking to intern?

Nike has maxims, which are their rules to live by. And one of their maxims is “be a sponge.” Which is the truest thing. Just listen to people. All of the Nike interns were top students, bright people, with good families, who have a lot going for them, but a lot of them couldn’t just listen to what other people had to say. You have to listen to people in order to take that information in, process it, and come back with something that’s better. Sometimes people forget that collaboration is what makes a good business, and that it’s not just on you.

Do you have any closing words about the UM College of Business?

We have amazing services and opportunities here. We have a Student Success Center just for business students and that’s crazy to me. We are also lucky enough to have Kathleen and Estella down there, which is awesome. I think a lot of students don’t take enough advantage of that.

The professors in the business school are also always willing to talk. You can just pop into their offices, and if they have they time, they’re more than willing to chat with you. That’s how I made a lot of my connections in the business school. Michael Braun, who’s a management professor here, has been my mentor this whole time. He’s amazing. With their experience out in the business world, our professors can help us so much, and I know sometimes they really aren’t used to their fullest potential.

Photo: Anderson on the Nike campus during her internship.