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Kelsey Niehoff, Jackie Peszynski, Daniel Joseph at Nike’s 2023 Intern Orientation
Members of Yale SOM’s MBA Class of 2024 (left to right – Kelsey Niehoff, Jackie Peszynski, Daniel Joseph) at Nike’s 2023 Intern Orientation.

Internship Spotlight: Kelsey Niehoff ’24, Nike, Inc.

Kelsey Niehoff ’24 on working to improve sustainability and embracing sport as a daily habit as an intern at Nike.

We asked rising second-year MBA students to check in from their summer internships, where they are applying the lessons of their first year at Yale SOM.

Kelsey Niehoff ’24

Internship: Nike Inc., Beaverton, OR
Role: Sustainable Operations Graduate Intern on the Zero Waste & Circularity team
Hometown: Algonquin, Illinois
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Clubs and Affiliations: Retail Club, Business & Environment Club, Run Club, Women in Management, Yale Center for Business & Environment, Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, CDO Career Advisor
Favorite SOM Core Class: Competitor
Favorite SOM Professor: Professor Laura Adler
Favorite New Haven eatery: One 6 Three
Favorite thing you do in New Haven or at SOM to unwind: Go for a run in East Rock Park or enjoy tea and carrot cake with friends at Claire’s Corner Copia
Favorite Yale study space: Sterling Memorial Library

This summer I am working as a sustainable operations graduate intern at Nike Inc. I am based out of Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, working on the Nike Grind team, a part of the broader Zero Waste & Circularity team within Nike’s Responsible Supply Chain organization. Nike Grind began as a grassroots initiative in 1992 to repurpose shoes headed for landfills. Today, Nike Grind is a global sustainability program that transforms manufacturing scrap and end-of-life shoes into recycled materials. The Nike Zero Waste & Circularity team is committed to achieving Nike’s FY25 impact goals, specifically driving Nike’s corporate waste targets.

Nike’s mission statement, “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world,” drives the organizational culture. From walking meetings to taking yoga classes with my colleagues and playing kickball with Nike employee resource groups, it is great to make sport a daily habit while working at Nike.

*If you have a body, you are an athlete.

Two members of Yale SOM’s MBA Class of 2024 at a Portland Thorns FC NWSL game.
Kelsey Niehoff hiking Horsetail and Ponytail Falls in Oregon’s Columbia Gorge.
Jackie Peszynski, Kelsey Niehoff walking with Nike Inc. in the 2023 Portland Pride parade.
Attending a Portland Thorns FC NWSL game, hiking Horsetail and Ponytail Falls in Oregon’s Columbia Gorge, and walking with Nike Inc. in the 2023 Portland Pride parade.

This summer I am working to develop Nike’s leather and synthetic leather waste reduction and recycling strategy. Unlike foam, rubber, and textiles, which are more readily recycled, leather and synthetic leather scrap are hard to recycle. I am researching and recommending a path forward that maximizes business value for Nike and minimizes environmental impact for our society.
Prior to starting at Yale SOM, I worked as a chemical engineer at a global B2B specialty chemicals manufacturer. While at Nike, I am coupling my technical background, experience in product development, and knowledge about the intersection of business and the environment. I am not only learning about the footwear and apparel industry, but also diving deep into the business and environmental benefits and implications of various material management methods, from waste to energy to open loop recycling, closed loop recycling, and waste reduction. I am seeing firsthand how Nike realizes its sustainability strategy.

After attending a multi-school, virtual Nike career information session in September, I applied to several of the Nike graduate-level internship opportunities. I then networked with several Nike team members via connections from Yale and my undergraduate institution, Virginia Tech. In December, I was excited to learn that I had received an interview. The end of my winter break was filled with interview prep. After several behavioral and case interviews, I received my internship offer to join Nike’s Responsible Supply Chain organization. As an experienced chemical engineer, I came to Yale SOM with the ambition to pivot both industry and function. I had my sights set on gaining experience at a large B2C brand who was leading the way in sustainability—Nike is exactly that.

The Yale SOM integrated curriculum, specifically the core class The Executive, prepared me to examine Nike’s challenge and opportunity with leather and synthetic leather waste from multiple perspectives. I was fortunate to be further prepared by The Executive course’s case study on Nike’s Space Hippie. This case allowed me to see how Nike thinks through environmental issues through a multi-stakeholder lens. Additionally, SOM’s Business and the Environment Club, as well as the Yale Center for Business and Environment, fostered conversation around environmental topics such as circularity and sustainable fashion, which were highly relevant to my internship project.

From a fireside chat with Nike Inc. President and CEO John Donahoe to a Pride celebration featuring a concert by Betty Who, a tour of the Department of Nike Archives, and seeing how my colleagues express themselves daily through high-heat sneakers, my internship has been and will continue to be full of unique experiences.  

I am happy to share my Nike Inc. experience with two other members of the Yale SOM MBA Class of 2024. Jackie Peszynski is an applied analytics graduate intern on the Nike Direct team, and Daniel Joseph is a consumer insights graduate intern working in marketing science. Beyond Jackie and Daniel, I am fortunate to be mentored by a Yale University alum, Shayna Liberman, who currently works on Nike’s Global Women’s Strategy team.