The as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a woman. Shenk was an intern at Nike in 2008 and worked as a senior designer at Nike. She was a creative director for the company. The interview has been edited to make it clearer. The story was first published in August.
I will always remember my first day at Nike. It's amazing. There are waterfalls and a giant orange swoosh at the gates.
I was anxious and excited. I asked if I should be nervous when I got to the check-in booth. I was expecting the woman to say that I'm good. You're a part of this place. She said it was Nike. You should be that way.
The tone was set by that. That feeling never left me in a bad way. I felt pushed a lot.
I attended the University of Michigan when I was a child. Both my sister and her husband were athletes. My family is a big fan of Ohio State. I went to the school that way. I wanted to do something out of the ordinary.
Michigan has an art school that teaches people how to think.
I like to work out. I began running when I was 17
Everything that interests me is encompassed by Nike.
I had never been to the state. Nike was my dream job, even though I had other opportunities. I was unable to say no.
Karen Korellis Reuther was my first boss. She commented on a piece in my portfolio when I ran into her at the printer while I was an intern. She said it showed the systems how to think. I thought that stood out to me. She said she could see how you thought.
It is difficult to teach people how to think. Being able to come up with a big idea is not an easy skill to teach. It takes a lot of practice to be able to solve problems.
Continuing education was provided by Nike. We had to figure out how to tell the story of the shoe's benefits.
When Nike had a lot of layoffs in May of 2009, I was an intern. I've never seen layoffs before. A colleague with a family was escorted to his desk and told to pack his things. I was offered a job the next day.
A company called Nike is a story teller. When you begin working there, it's obvious.
Many people at Nike are not from Oregon or Portland. My friends used to work at Nike. I was a part of the culture.
Work and play can blur. Sometimes the professionalism is not always clear. People will say things that are not appropriate. It happened a lot.
It is very male-dominated. I don't feel like I'm being held back or that I'm not getting opportunities. I always knew that I was female.
I moved to brand design after a few years at Nike. I worked for Nike Basketball for a while on the brands of Kobe Bryant and King James. The space for Nike's women's summit was designed by me. The last big project I worked on was an innovation summit in New York. Products in running, basketball, and football were launched.
The projects were big.
Great work is what you need to make moves in your career. Nobody forgets if you go over budget or not.
When full campaigns were developed and millions of dollars were spent, they would go up to the top and be killed. The work is good.
I usually worked over the weekend or in the evenings. That didn't make it hard for me. It was enjoyable. There was not much balance.
It's probably similar to a large corporation. The people are trying to get the next job. It's probably worsened by the fact that there are so many type A people at Nike.
I took the decision to leave Nike very seriously. Portland was getting small for me. I wanted to live in NYC.
I felt like leaving my dream job was crazy. The person who stopped me by the printer was the one who did the TED Talk. I watched it. I told her that was what I was going through.
Is it crazy to want to leave this place?
Staying at a company for 25 years is not what the younger generation thinks. It's not a good way to approach your career.
I think I'm young. A diversity of experiences is important. The time is now.
I looked for a long time. I had interviews at a number of places. In New York, I joined the company.
An internal design organization was being built. Mauro Porcini was the leader of the department and he was an inspiration. The vision of what he and his team were building inspired me.
Nike's corporate culture is very similar to that ofPepsi. There is a more informal way of doing business at Nike. There was a stark difference between the two companies. Everything was in writing.
It became apparent to me that the higher you climbed the corporate ladder, the less creative you became. I wanted to be a creative, but I was losing touch with that.
A play on the word "multidisciplinary" was the inspiration for my organization. We work with brands to create campaigns and stories. I used a tool to boot it.
I wanted to start my own company for a long time. Other people did it who were inspiring.
The uncertainty is one of the largest changes. You don't make that much money.
I've always been willing to expose myself to situations that are not comfortable.
The ability to be a thinker is one of the things I have taken from Nike. My experience at Nike has an effect on my aesthetic. Things like overspending were left behind.
It's possible that competition can be healthy. Competition can shift from healthy to toxic. I try to maintain the right amount of competition and lead with collaboration and creativity after Nike.
My goal is to have at least 10 people in the shop. I don't want to make things. It's hard for me to get swept up in my work. At Nike, I learned how to separate myself from my work.
FootLocker was one of the first big clients I landed. We now have a client,Pepsi Cola. In the fall, we worked with AMAZON. We collaborated with FootLocker on a campaign centered around the Nike Air Max.
I used to work at Nike. I'm very pleased with what I'm doing. My time at Nike was a very important part of my career.