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She Just Did It

Karley Woods looks back on how the MMM program helped prepare her for success during her summer internship with Nike.

As a 5-year-old girl, Karley Woods (MMM ‘24) would double-knot the laces of her Nike cleats and head out onto the soccer pitch to play the sport she quickly fell in love with.  

As she and her soccer skills grew, so did the size cleats she wore, but the brand always remained the same.  

Karley WoodsEarlier this year, when Woods had the chance to choose an internship as part of Northwestern's MBA + MS Design Innovation (MMM) program — a dual-degree program between Northwestern Engineering and the Kellogg School of Management — she thought of Nike's famous tagline: Just do it.  

So she did.  

“Throughout my career I've always enjoyed working for brands that resonate with me and whose products I see on a daily basis,” she said. “There's no better example of that than Nike.” 

Woods served as a digital product manager at Nike for 10 weeks this summer. There, she developed a plan for enhancements to the company’s B2B ecommerce platform that enables stores to purchase Nike products to stock their shelves and racks.   

The company’s products have been at the center of many of Woods’ greatest sports memories, from her soccer career to a more contemporary accomplishment. Several years ago, Woods became involved in the Chicago-area running community and joined running clubs that had a strong relationship with Nike.  

The company’s support of local athletes empowered her to train for three months to run the 2019 Chicago Marathon, which she called “one of my biggest accomplishments to date.”  

The summer internship gave Woods opportunities to work with artificial intelligence, data science programs, and analytics tools. She also heard presentations from influential leaders associated with the Nike brand, including activist and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Olympic long-distance runner Galen Rupp.   

Among those who made the biggest impression on Woods was Nike CEO John Donahoe, who emphasized the value of mental health for his employees.  

“It was refreshing to hear hard-working leaders in their fields stress the importance of wellness and family,” Woods said. “I think that's very reflective of Nike's culture.”  

Woods said she enjoyed thoroughly immersing herself in Nike's culture, through everything from meetings and work events to team lunches in one of the company’s multiple cafeterias.  Her MMM education proved invaluable in preparing for the assignments she had with Nike.  

The depth and breadth of her MMM classes allowed her to function well in a variety of environments this summer. Research, Design, Build (RDB) and CPG Product and Business Innovation Studio helped Woods hone her understanding of design thinking and further develop her user-centered mindset. 

A course offered by Kellogg called Omnichannel Experience Strategy was also helpful for her to understand how brands navigate various channel models, she said..  

Her time at Nike helped reinforce a number of lessons she previously learned in MMM.  

“An important lesson I learned was how product managers, who sit at the intersection of many functions, really do need to speak so many different languages to interact with those different functions and do their job effectively,” she said. “It was helpful to already speak the language of the designers and user researchers on my team.”  

The Nike internship helped shape Woods’ post-MMM plans. She said she wants to work as a digital product manager in the short term and eventually become a product leader supporting and guiding teams in the retail technology space.   

Her advice to prospective students considering the MMM program is a variation of that famous Nike motto: Yes, just do it, but maybe also just do some self-reflection first.  

“It’s quite a bit of work and not something to be taken lightly,” she said. “Coming into the program with intention and clarity can help with navigating the chaos of a large workload, recruiting, and just making friends.”  

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