I graduated from college and got an interview with Hanna Andersson in Portland, Oregon. I packed my truck and began my journey from Ohio. One day before arriving, I got a call letting me know that the position I was interviewing for had been cancelled due to budgetary restrictions.
Needless to say, I arrived in Portland…scared. My Parents did not support my decision to relocate and told me if I got into trouble, not to call them. I was greeted by a college friends’ brother, who showed me to my new room (the hallway outside his door). I found a book about companies in Portland. I called Nike, and was told they had an Assistant Designer position available. They gave me an interview, for the following morning.
My meeting was great. The HR guy asked me a final question: “Why do you want to work here?” I answered, pronouncing “Nike,” incorrectly (leaving off the long eeee sound at the end). He pushed my portfolio across the desk and sternly said, “You should learn how to pronounce the name of where you want to work, correctly.”
I panicked. I was across the USA, had $150 to my name and was scared senseless. I slammed my portfolio into his chest and told him that I’d work harder than anyone, and that if I wasn’t a good fit, I promised to not file for unemployment if they fired me. He bent over and started laughing.
After three months and seven rounds of interviews, I got the job. I worked on many categories including Running, SMU’s, World Cup uniforms and Michael Jordan. After nearly two years, I was given the opportunity to help design the first Michael Jordan comeback collection. I didn’t know anything about basketball, and it was 11pm by the time I finished my other work. I read the official rules for uniforms and began sketching a different silhouette. It was later coined “the cap-sleeve jersey”. It changed the face of college and major league basketball. This is why it’s important to bring fresh talent, into your pool. They innately think outside the box and innovate (even if by accident).