RGU Fashion Management student Hannah Jones spent her third year of university on placement with Nike in Amsterdam. She shares more about her experience moving abroad and expanding her skills working for the multinational company.
Why did you choose to study Fashion Management at RGU?
The RGU course seemed to appropriately prepare students for a corporate role, which has in turn helped me to secure a placement at Nike. I also liked how the course seemed modern and up to date with the industry. It had opportunities in creative subjects while providing the necessary knowledge on business studies. RGU’s reputation for placements is also one of the reasons I chose to study there.
How did you obtain a placement with Nike?
Donna from the Centre for Employment and Community Engagement team emailed people from our course with several opportunities for placement. I liked the look of the Nike placement as it was in merchandising and offered the opportunity to work in Amsterdam for a year.
To get the job, I had to submit a CV and go through three interviews. I used the RGU CV checker, which is a very useful tool to analyse your writing. From then I got an interview on HireVue, which was answering questions through video on your previous experience. I then progressed onto the next stage and went on to have two interviews with the merchandising team. The process took about a month. In the meantime, I did a lot of research into the company and investigated examples of when I used my skillset listed on my CV. It was also a benefit I worked in retail for New Look as it meant I had hands-on experience from the retail side.
How did you feel about living abroad for a year and how did you prepare for this big move?
Moving abroad wasn’t in my plan at first as I thought I would apply for a placement in London. But now that I have been living abroad for a year, I would advise anyone to take this kind of opportunity. You grow so much as a person and learn a lot about other cultures, while having the chance to travel. I am now looking at a master’s course abroad because of my experience this year!
To prepare for my big move, I started packing a month before and put away my university things for the following year. I also researched a company to bring my things over and booked the Eurostar, which Erasmus covered as well as my Covid test. As I moved during a time Covid restrictions were still in place, it was quite stressful as there were many documents that needed to be filled out, and I also had to quarantine for 5 days on arrival. But having my family with me and other interns to share the experience with made the process easier. Donna was also a big help during this time!
Did you settle in easily during your first few weeks in Amsterdam?
The first few weeks in Amsterdam were fun. I did a lot of exploring as I had a couple weeks off before starting my placement. It gave me the opportunity to experience the city as a tourist and get used to my surroundings.
When moving abroad, there are little things you don’t think about which can make it more difficult to settle in, such as transport, food shopping and cultural differences. But overall, it wasn’t too hard. Starting work was good and I transitioned well as I slowly took on more work and learnt how Nike operate.
Can you tell us more about your placement experience?
I was an intern for women’s wear merchandising for sports performance across footwear and apparel over Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Typically, I helped the team with a variety of different projects. The merchandising team works to a calendar so different projects happen at different times in the season. Mostly, I was assisting using digital functions for line planning, carrying out focus groups and, my favourite, picking out samples!
My favourite project I worked on was the women’s football products. Over two months, I organised focus groups with female teams and interviewed the players on our products. This was great as I was able to learn more about the sport and where Nike can better serve women in football as it is currently a leading men’s market.
But my proudest achievement working for Nike was adopting the fitness line for Summer 2023. Under my manager’s watch, and following forecasting, I got to make calculated decisions on what shoes to put in the women’s training line. When Summer 2023 comes around, I will be able to see the choices I made in the shops.
I also gained a lot of insights into the industry and got to see how the company was doing in the market. Weekly reports from the insights team showed things like top cities for sales, or trends such as colours and pattern. All this information directly influences what we do as we try to meet demands. On top of all this, I had a lot of travel opportunities with my job. It’s interesting to see how different places operate and what the trends are in each city.
Working in a different country can be challenging as there is more administrative work, such as applying for visas, which is often in Dutch. However, it was nice to work with a diverse team that I could learn a lot from. The challenge is totally worth it!
What are some of your favourite memories from living and working in Amsterdam?
One of my favourite memories would be Nike’s 50th birthday where the leadership team came over from the headquarters in America. There was plenty of food and activities, which made for an amazing afternoon.
It’s difficult to pick my ultimate favourite memory from Amsterdam, but I would say in general I have had amazing moments spending time with other interns at Vondell Park in the sun. It was always nice going to eat outside together. I also had some memorable nights with friends in an old cinema in the city centre, one of my favourite places to visit in Amsterdam.
In what way do you think the placement has helped you grow professionally and personally?
The placement helped me professionally as I gained connections within the company and learned from people in the fashion industry. Also, having an influential company on my CV should hopefully help me move around the industry as I now have a good foundation. I also have a new skillset that will help me move forward. For example, presenting to global counterparts has given me new presentation skills which I am looking forward to applying when I am back at university.
In terms of personal development, moving abroad came with many challenges including visas registrations and taxes, which was a huge learning curve. I have since then become much more organised and resilient to challenges.
How do you feel about the experience ending soon and do you have any plans for the future?
Coming to the end of my placement brings a bittersweet feeling. It’s nice to know that I have one year left at university and that I can go back to Aberdeen for a bit, but it’s also sad to leave Amsterdam and the connections I have made here. Amsterdam is a beautiful city and I have been very lucky to live here for a year. I will also miss my work as I enjoyed what I was doing, and Nike is an amazing company to work for, with opportunities in sports like skateboarding and tennis lessons!
With Clearing, you still have time to come study at RGU this September and embark on an exciting journey that will provide unforgettable experiences and prepare you for the world of work! Learn more about how to apply through Clearing on the RGU website.