White Clay earns internship at Nike

White Clay earns internship at Nike

KamiJo White Clay, 24 of Crow Agency, and a student at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico has recently earned summer internship at the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon for this summer.

Nike, in partnership with IAIA, has selected two students to collaborate on different ideas for the brand, on a major upcoming project, with White Clay being of the lucky finalists.

“I consider it a personal win for the Crow Tribe,” White Clay said, “I said to myself, ‘I'm going to do this for the people.'”

White Clay along with one other student selected from IAIA, will spend 10 weeks this summer working with the Nike creative teams on a major marketing project. With such a highly coveted opportunity for any young, Native artist, White Clay was determined to ensure that she earned herself a spot.

“I applied for it last year, and made it into the final round of applicants, but didn’t get called back for the next round of interviews,” White Clay said, speaking of how much of a challenge it was to throw her hat in the ring for consideration.

“There are a series of interviews that are done before you can get to the final round, and once you get there, then you have a few chances to meet with them, and then they get to the formal interviews,” she said.  “When the time came around, I attended all the meet-and-greets, met with everyone and they definitely remembered me from the previous years applicants.”

White Clay herself is a multidimensional artist, with a menagerie of work ranging from canvas, to modeling, film work, even down to metalsmithing, she is definitely a force to be recognized when it comes to her artwork. So when part of the interview and meet-and-greet processes was to show your work under the advice of Landon Spencer, a university recruiter at Nike, White Clay prepared her best work and put everything out for the interview committee to review and study.

“I really overdid it,” White Clay laughed, “but I work in a lot of different mediums and I wanted to showcase that.”

White Clay shared how she had previously applied for the Nike internship the year before, yet expressed that she felt she was not refined in certain areas when speaking to the committee and that that may have been the difference between a successful application this year and the disappointment of not being selected last year.

Nonetheless, White Clay prepared her work, and gave a strong interview to two ladies who represented Nike and gave a stunning interview, detailing her work within and outside her home community and with others.

“The interview was actually supposed to be about an hour, and we wound up talking for quite a bit of time after that,” White Clay said.

When things began to come to a close, the interviewers asked White Clay if she had any questions for them.

“I thought about it very rigorously and I told them both, “I would like to know about your personal experience with Nike and how it impacted your work and your life,” White Clay said, a question which the interviewers seemingly were surprised to hear.

“They shared their personal experience with Nike and how it impacted their work and lives,” White Clay said. “They opened up to me about their struggles and how Nike impacted their careers and livelihoods,” said White Clay. “I wanted to hear about their struggles and how it brought hope to their own communities and their families. I thanked them for their time and let them know that I resonated with them and their stories.”

After that life-changing meeting, now came the anxiety of awaiting the final word on selected finalists was almost unbearable.

“I kept in contact with them, called them almost every day and whenever they asked me to do something over email, I would drop what I was doing and get it done for them right there,” White Clay said.

Awaiting the results for anything is quite a strenuous time, and so, to help dissipate her worries, White Clay says that she held strong to her Crow values, and did what she could to ensure that the universe knew her intent.

“I prayed, I fasted, I kept thinking of my kaale,” White Clay shared, “I finally called my kaale and told her how I felt about everything, and she reassured me that there was nothing to worry about.”

After which, she felt a lot more relaxed about everything and so, in her own words, she “put it all in the Creator’s hands”. White Clay spoke of how she had to continue on with her regular classes, finances were getting tighter and tighter, and she still had not heard word back yet from the Nike spokespeople.

“One day, I was very tired and I didn’t have much money for lunch,” she shared, “so I went to a seminar where they were offering free food. I was sitting and listening to the speakers, eating an orange when I got the call from Nike.”

With her heart, hopes and dreams going 900 miles an hour, White Clay gathered her composure and answered the phone. Wevly Wilson, footwear design recruiter for Nike, broke the good news to White Clay that she had been chosen as a finalist in the process and she had earned the internship.

“They told me that they were very impressed by my work and that they are very excited to work with me.” White Clay is one of the youngest people ever chosen for the Nike internship, as most of the previous winners being older than she is at a ripe 24 years old.

From her earliest works of art to her current portfolio that continues to grow, KamiJo White Clay continues to push boundaries further for Apsáalooke women in the arts showing that all Apsáalooke, with their many talents, can go far in the world with enough passion and dedication.

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