Ask Daniel White about his internship at Adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, last year, and the Seattle Pacific University marketing major will tell you something not many people in the U.S. know.
“It’s actually pronounced AH-di-dahs,” he says.
During his six months in Germany, White worked on a small, close-knit Adidas team called Speed Creation. “We focused on key retail stores throughout Western Europe,” he says. If buyers were happy with most Adidas clothing options but felt that one or two didn’t meet their customers’ needs, White’s team created new, customized pieces.
“The retailer is able to carry that item exclusively,” he says. “They know their customers more than we do, so we helped them fill those gaps and get more sales.”
White’s motivation for pursuing the internship was twofold. He wanted to learn outside of the classroom and get international experience in business. But he was also interested in fitness and attracted to the idea of a career that can help people who are just beginning to exercise regularly.
A decision to start exercising at age 18 changed his life, he says. “I got a huge passion for fitness. I lost between 40–50 pounds. I started weightlifting, and weightlifting’s kind of become my thing.”
As a first step in securing an internship, White worked with SPU’s Mentor Program in the Center for Applied Learning. He connected via phone with Samhita Doblie, a brand manager at Nike sportswear, which is based in Beaverton, Oregon. She encouraged him to explore global corporations, and offered insight and practical advice about the greater sports-apparel industry that informed White’s internship search.
Business at Adidas is conducted in English, but White practiced German by listening to friends and co-workers speak. On Sundays, he and other interns often went on runs in Herzogenaurach, on trails and around a local lake. His internship also came with two weeks’ vacation, which gave him time to visit Greece, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
“The internship was about half of what I learned,” he says. “The other half was just being abroad: immersing myself in a different culture, and getting to understand the U.S. from an outsider view. That was really important for me.”
John Godek, assistant professor of management, wrote a letter of recommendation for White’s internship application. The two often saw each other in the halls, or in the weight room at Royal Brougham Pavilion. “I used to see him at the gym three days a week,” White remembers. “I’d come in at 7 in the morning. We’d be the only two people there.”
Because they ran into each other so regularly, Godek could easily check in to see how White’s mentorship and internship process was going.
“That is one of the things I love about SPU,” Godek says. “When I was an undergraduate, I went to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, which is a small institution and very tightknit. It was similar — you’d see faculty and staff a lot. I like getting to know students and seeing them grow.”
Godek loves finding ways for his business students to stand out to potential employers. “Having an internship with a major brand is a tremendous opportunity,” he says. “To get international experience, as well — working with people in different countries, with different cultures and languages — companies look for that. We’re such an interconnected world.”
With his internship complete and graduation fast approaching, White is excited to see what’s next. “I’ll graduate not only with a degree, but also with real-life work experience in the career field I want to be in.”