Monday, September 21, 2009

Catching Up with Aminah Charles

Currently, Aminah Charles (MEAC/Hampton University) is doing an internship at Nike Headquarters in Oregon. We caught up with her and asked her a few questions about this tremendous opportunity. For more information about internships at Nike, visit them on the web at

What are your daily responsibilities?

Everyday is a little bit different from the last. Some my responsibilities include creating PowerPoint decks for our advertising team. I have worked on our digital & retail global marketing strategies for our 2010 season, conducted consumer research and focus groups. As an intern I have also been involved with the preparation for photo shoots and putting together our marketing strategy for the Serena and Maria’s run at the US Open.

What is your favorite part of the job?

My favorite part of the job is that I get a first hand look into all of the new upcoming products and technology that Nike will be offering in future seasons. I have gotten a peek at the new shoes and apparel that will be on the market in the 2011 season, its really cool to see how the company is always trying to stay on the cutting edge of style, fashion and performance.

Most intriguing person you have met while working there?

It’s a three way tie between Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Howard White.

On our first day of intern orientation MJ came to campus for a special ceremony that celebrated his 25 year relationship with Nike. We all got to sit in on the ceremony, and then afterwards we got to join him at an afternoon employee celebration. During the summer Lebron James came to campus and I actually ran into him on my way to get some breakfast at the cafeteria in my building. Howard White is the Vice president of the Jordan Brand and I actually got the opportunity to sit down with him for an hour long meeting. His success story is very interesting and he had tons of great advice about life to share with me. Anyone who knows Howard White would tell you that he’s one of the funniest most inspiring people that you will ever meet.

Is there a particular aspect of marketing/branding your job? What about this do you like?

The best part of marketing and branding in Nike Women’s Training is that you get to develop stories around key female athletes, helping elevate women sports. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Tiger Woods are all global sports icons. Working in Women’s Training gives me the opportunity to help work toward developing the female icons of the future; this hopefully will inspire girls around the country.

How has your career as a student-athlete prepared you for this internship?

My career as a student athlete has definitely given me the upper edge here at Nike. The strong network of people that I was able to build as a student athlete helped get me the position. Also, working in a hectic environment my time management skills that I developed as an athlete has helped me excel in the work place. Nike is all about competition and getting that victory, we have a vey competitive atmosphere here. Everyday I am able to use that competitive drive I have to help make Women’s Training one of the strongest categories in the company. My co-workers also really respect and value my opinion simply because their consumer is the athlete.

How will this experience affect your career in the future?

This experience has helped me developed many of the necessary skill sets that would help me function in any career. Over the past few months I have been a sponge soaking up tons of advice and learning new things from everyone around me. The work experience that I have gained from working on various projects and the network that I have built will hopefully help shape my career in the future.

One thing about Nike HQ that most people do not know.

Nike HQ is such a huge place. It reminds me of a college campus, everything you need to live is right here. There are two workout facilities, a soccer field, football field, softball field, outdoor sand volleyball courts, convenient stores, cafeterias, restaurants, a air salon, training rooms/rehab center, dry cleaning and much more. If I had a bed I could probably live here!

What is the best local restaurant?

In my opinion RIB City. It’s a taste of the south right here in Portland, great barbeque ribs, the best sweet tea, and delicious chicken!

Friday, September 11, 2009

First National SAAC Experience

Commercialism, Kickball, and Aladdin. These diverse topics are what really stood out to me when I went to my first Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meeting, held in Denver, Colorado from July 16-19.

I did not know what to expect prior to the meeting, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences in my life. The trip got off to a great start when I made my connecting flight from Dallas to Denver. I usually miss my connecting flight, so this was a sign of a great weekend to come. Upon arriving in Denver, I got to my hotel quickly, unpacked, and took a quick nap. After a little while, I was woken up by my roommate for the weekend, Jarrett Newby, the Conference USA representative. Jarrett, a veteran of the National SAAC, gave me some quick tips on what to expect. He also told me about how interesting the conversations would be during the meetings and also how great everyone on the committee was. By this time it was dinner, and we then went out to the Cheesecake Factory where I met more members from the SAAC.

The next morning we had our first meeting. At the meeting, I had a chance to meet the remaining committee members. I really enjoyed the subject matter and all the conversations in which I took part. One of my favorite memories from the trip occurred when I introduced myself at the joint SAAC meeting. In addition to a standard introduction—saying what conference you were representing—we then had sing two lines from your favorite song. Unfazed, I decided to go first. Much to the surprise of everyone, I sang A Whole New World from Aladdin. After I finished, I received a rousing ovation. This was something I was very proud of considering it is not often that I sing in front of a large group.

After displaying my amazing singing skills, we went to the Jackie Robinson Sports Center. Here, all of the SAAC members worked with Special Olympic athletes on some softball drills. This experience was extremely rewarding and enriching. Following the softball drills, the Division I SAAC members played the Division II and III members in kickball. During the first game I would become a goat for striking out, which is sad considering I play soccer. I, however, did gain some kickball respect five minutes later when I made a great diving catch. Although we lost to the Division III team, we had a great time.

Additional meetings occurred over the next couple of days, and we discussed many important issues. My favorite conversation was when we discussed the topic of commercialism with Greg Shaheen, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball and Business Strategies. Overall I had an awesome experience in Denver, and I am looking forward to my future endeavors with the Division I SAAC.

Zach Solomon, The Patriot League