By Sarah Stone
For fashion and textile design (FTD) student Emma Harris, an internship at Adidas meant more than gaining experience with an internationally recognized brand. It also meant making her dreams a reality.
During her first year at the Wilson College of Textiles, Harris took a class trip to Adidas’ Portland, Oregon, office and fell in love.
“I told myself, ‘I want to be an Adidas intern,’” the senior says.
Fast forward a few years, and Harris is standing in front of the company’s headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, for the first in-person day of her internship.
“It was really surreal for me because during my application process and before I moved to Germany, I would search images of the headquarters online and just think, ‘Wow, it looks so cool,’” she says. “And it really was that cool in person.”
She worked in the pattern making department for Adidas, which keeps the brand’s continuous building library of styles up to date. For Harris, that meant updating patterns, working in 2-D and 3-D programs, and ordering and fitting samples.
“I’ve had the chance to actually be in the room with the designers, and tell them, ‘I think it will make your style look better if we adjust the pattern in this way,’” she says. “I actually got some say in the design too, and they’ve listened to me, which I’m really grateful for.”
The ability to excel in these assignments and the confidence to speak up in these meetings came in large part from her time at the Wilson College.
“I would say that a lot of the things I actually learned in classes directly translated over into what I did during my internship,” Harris says. I think Wilson College is really up to date with the Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programs used in industry.”
The college also helped her during the application process, Harris says, because many Wilson College alumni already work for Adidas.
After six months in the pattern making department, Harris knows the ins and outs of production work, from cataloguing systems, to using tech packs, ordering samples and communicating with suppliers and factories.
“I’ve definitely learned those hard skills and the inner workings of what happens to create a collection for an upcoming season,” she says.
She also takes pride in the personal development that resulted from living, working and studying abroad.
“It was a lot to take in moving to Germany during the pandemic, and not only that, but also traveling to a new country by yourself and taking a public transport system when I didn’t really know German well,” she says. “I was the only American in the internship program, so you meet people from all over the world, but I think that makes you grow a lot.”
Harris’ career goals also look a bit different now. She’s now equally interested in a career in pattern making and design.
“My outlook on working internationally has also changed a lot,” she says. “I’m pretty much open to looking for and wanting to work anywhere.”
Her advice to students entering the field? Don’t sell yourself short.
“It’s not so much about being the perfect applicant,” she says. “But being really passionate about the brand and being confident and brave enough to say, ‘I love your brand. I will do anything to be the best intern that I can and to provide the highest level of work I can.’”