You know the saying, “fake it till you make it”? Up until the summer of 2014, I always thought it was just a figure of speech. That was until I was asked by a woman who works for Adidas if I was a graphic design major.
“You’re a graphic design major, right?”
Flashback to my sophomore self in college, home for the summer with no job or internship. I was annoyed that I had to come home for the summer, but also knew I couldn’t afford living in Chicago alone. This should come as no shock to anyone: I can’t sit around and do nothing. Instead of pouting (as I was known to do from time to time), I asked my neighbor if her company, the one with the three stripes, was hiring interns. I didn’t care what the internship was, or if it was paid. If it meant I would be able to add “worked for Adidas” to my resume. I was ready to do whatever it took.
I remember the conversation being something like this:
Kim: You’re a graphic design major right?
Me: Yeah! (lies)
For those of you who don’t know, I attended Loyola University Chicago and majored in advertising and public relations with a minor in marketing. I had NEVER created ANYTHING in Photoshop or Illustrator. I used InDesign in high school for newspaper class, but until that summer, my knowledge on Adobe Suite was zip, nada, none.
Fast forward to my first day interning at Adidas. I remember thinking WTF did I just get myself into. I sat down and panic took over my entire body as “fake it till you make it” kept going through my head. THANK GOD for Youtube. I still remember having to pretend I knew what the heck the pen tool was, or how to liquify a garment. Safe to say I went home and Googled everything I could about Photoshop. I watched endless Youtube videos for days and pretty much taught myself Adobe Suite in two months!
So now that you know more about my “background credentials”, time for the stuff you’re actually curious about.
Q: So what is a Digital Image Specialist?
A: You know the cutout images you see on the Adidas website? That’s essentially what I create, only for our sales reps and dealerships websites. Since nobody knows what the hell a Digital Image Specialist is (even I don’t know some days) I simply say I’m a graphic designer or do marketing for Adidas. The latter normally makes me sound like a BA and I choose to say that instead of graphic designer. However, it is worth noting that the term graphic designer still has a common misconception: most people assume a graphic designer creates digital art. In reality, a graphic designer can also create digital ads, create websites, etc.
Q: What is a typical day like at Adidas?
A: It depends on the season. We work a year ahead and no two days are the same, which is why I love it so much. Normally, my day starts at around 7 A.M. Some days earlier and some days later. You have to remember I am still The Buzzing Blonde and have to make sure I can meet with my clients during the week, so I can have somewhat relaxing weekends. I clock in, read through my emails and start with my first tasks of the day, whether it’s creating an image or preparing for a photo shoot. Most days I have at least one meeting, but again it depends on the season. I normally eat lunch at my desk while I check my social media platforms and then get back to working on either e-commerce imagery or a digital campaign in Photoshop.
Q: What is the culture like?
A: I think the majority of my friends and family (and maybe even my followers) think my work space is like the one you would find when you Google “Adidas headquarters” (Portland). However, that is not the case for Adidas Indy, which kind of stinks. I work in a cubicle with three screens and three walls. Except one day at the beginning of this year, I somehow convinced my boss to rip down one of the walls to try and design an “open space” concept. Even our photo studio was boring AF, up until two months ago, we created a dope ass wall out of posters we created and Mod Podge, painting the outside of the studio to look like a performance shoe box, and the printing room like an Originals box.
Q: What has Corporate America taught you?
A1. You get what you put into it.
When I was little, my mom would always tell my sister and I, when we had a teacher we didn’t like, to view them like a boss. She would tell us there will be bosses you like and there will be some you don’t. The point is, you don’t have to like them, but you will have to respect them, which in return will make you appreciate your good bosses that much more once you have them. Having Kim as my first boss as a sophomore in college, set the bar HIGH. Kim is a boss who doesn’t just manage, she teaches in the process. Fast forward to all my internships in Chicago where I don’t think I had one decent boss. I have learned that I work well with managers who don’t micromanage, but instead give me the space/freedom to run with my wild ideas, but also not sugar coating it when it’s a bad idea. The same goes with coworkers. There will be coworkers you love, and there will be coworkers you put up with.
A2. Transparency and communication are key to a better work environment.
We all know communication is key, but I believe transparency is also key. Working for a global company, they can’t always tell every single employee what is in the works on a global scale, which can be frustrating and challenging. For example, we all found out about the Beyoncé collaboration the same day every non-Adidas employee found out. It’s frustrating to receive emails and notifications on all the projects the Portland and German headquarters get to do, and often times than not, I believe many people at the Indy office feel like the ugly step sister. However, I understand. Adidas is a GLOBAL company. Kim tells us what she can, when she can, but there is going to be miscommunication and secrets when you have multiple headquarters across the globe. It is going to be hard to please everyone and the budget can’t please everyone’s needs.
Q: How do you manage working for Adidas and run The Buzzing Blonde on the side?
A: Fake It Till You Make It.