Mechanical Engineering Internship Story: Nike


David Hollinger

Mechanical Engineering

What company did you intern with and where are they located?

I interned at The  Nike Sport Research Lab located at Nike World HQ in Beaverton, Oregon

How did you identify and apply for your internship? Are there any specific resources you used to find the opportunity (i.e. Handshake, career fairs, other recruitment events)?  

I found the application on LinkedIn.

What was the application process like?

It was quite simple. LinkedIn allows you to store your resume/CV and perform ‘quick apply’ on the job listings. I added a cover letter which took about 30 minutes. To prepare for the online interview, I reviewed the job qualifications with my Deep Learning professor, Dr. Anh Nguyen. He gave me the confidence that I was a good fit for the position. There were ~34,000 applicants and ~300 interns. I was the only summer graduate intern at the Nike Sports Research Lab.

Tell us about your internship experience. What types of tasks and projects did you engage in? Was there a particular project or part of the experience you learned the most from?

The internship at the Nike Sports Research Lab was truly unforgettable. The World HQ is gorgeous and runner/biker friendly with a future-like college campus and sleek building designs embedded in nature. I primarily worked on a biomechanics study for runners. We used computer vision for 3D pose estimation of runners and I analyzed the key biomechanical outcomes to compare to wearable sensors.

In what ways did this internship help you prepare for your next destination after Auburn?

The research team at the Nike Sports Research Lab is stacked. The team I worked with included people from startups, the business world, academia, and industry. The internship helped prepare me to know what it feels like to work with world-class researchers for an athlete population. Although my current PhD research is on wearable exoskeletons for army soldiers, I'd like to focus my career towards athletes for improving performance and reducing risk of injury. After interning at Nike, I would like to focus my career to runners. As a former cross country and track runner at George Mason, I feel more engaged with this kind of research.

In what ways did your coursework or other experiences at Auburn prepare you for your internships? Are there specific topics or skills you learned from classes that you put into practice on the job?

The Department of Mechanical Engineering helped me master the skills of biomechanics and wearables. I am also doing a minor in Computer Science and Software Engineering and have taken courses in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning. These courses were a huge reason why I felt qualified for interning at Nike. The most beneficial parts of the classes were the course projects. I was able to test state-of-the-art machine learning and deep learning models on open-source biomechanical data to understand and optimize human movement. I added the projects to my portfolio and it was a natural spring-board to talk about during the interview and the internship. Finally, being a competitive distance runner for over a decade is relevant experience and provides me with an intuitive understanding on how to help athletes.

Do you have any advice for other students looking for internships like yours?

Be humble. My very first internship a few years ago was unpaid. However, it strengthened my skills and resume so that I could end up interning at Nike. Sometimes you have to go through the humble periods of getting relevant job experience to get an opportunity to work at your dream job.