The Summer of a Lifetime at Jordan Brand

The Summer of a Lifetime at Jordan Brand


UCLA Anderson MBA student Stephen Mendoza’s (B.A. ’17, ’23) dream internship

October 17, 2022

by Linda Lloyd da Silva

  • Double Bruin Stephen Mendoza overcame challenges in his first year at UCLA Anderson that prepared him for his dream summer internship
  • Mendoza landed on a Jordan Brand team at Nike, where he applied his finance skills to a go-to-market strategy for new retail stores
  • Networking among Anderson alumni and colleagues before, during and after his internship was the key to advancement and success

Stephen Jesus Mendoza (B.A. ’17, ’23), a second-year UCLA Anderson MBA student concentrating on corporate finance, has only positive things to say about his summer internship with Jordan Brand at Nike. It was just the experience he needed to start his final year of business school on a positive uptick.

“I just had the summer of my life making the most out of this opportunity to work with the Jordan Brand and their go-to-market strategy for their new physical retail stores,” Mendoza says. “As a basketball superfan, working with the Jordan Brand has been a match made in heaven. I am coming out of this internship with a newfound passion for retail and sports — and with an expanded shoe collection (as is my 1-year-old son!).”

Although the double Bruin earned his undergraduate degree at UCLA, he admits that his first year at Anderson was difficult. “Navigating the challenging curriculum as a first-generation college student and as an underrepresented minority makes the experience even harder,” he says. “But there is so much support here at Anderson. The campus Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has been an extremely uplifting resource — it made me realize that I wasn’t alone and helped me persevere through a very challenging year.”

“I wanted to work for a company whose values aligned with mine. I wanted to work in an industry I was passionate about. And I wanted to have fun.”

Overcoming the hurdles of that first year enabled Mendoza to hone the knowledge and personal characteristics he needed to succeed at his internship. His Business Analytics with Spreadsheets course taught him some Excel tricks he said gave him the confidence to apply.

He had three main criteria when researching possible internships: “I wanted to work for a company whose values aligned with mine. I wanted to work in an industry I was passionate about. And I wanted to have fun.”

Mendoza planned smartly. He started looking for his summer internship early in the year and leveraged the resources available at Anderson to target companies that met his criteria. When Nike came out at the top of his list, he took advantage of Anderson’s robust alumni network and reached out to alumni employed at Nike, requesting informational interviews to better understand the company’s culture. “Those informational interviews, in addition to attending some Nike networking sessions and doing my own company research — all these steps helped me secure the internship,” he says.

And what an internship. Nike offered Mendoza a Graduate Finance Internship and assigned him to his dream department — the Global Jordan team. “My job was to create financial guardrails for the Jordan full-assortment stores and help launch an expansion plan focusing on geographic locations for growth,” he says. “This project required me to network significantly. It is in the nature of Nike teammates to share their expertise with interns, and everyone had a valuable perspective on my project.” In fact, networking was one of Stephen’s goals while interning at Nike. “The best piece of advice I got during my pre-internship research was to make sure I networked actively. Nike’s culture and the scope of my job made meeting that goal easy,” he says.

One other part of his internship far exceeded his expectations: Nike’s emphasis on the value of making sports a daily habit among its employees. “It’s right there on the Nike benefits website,” Mendoza says: “‘Whether you’re just getting started or consider yourself a fitness pro, Nike provides fitness opportunities and discounts for all levels and goals.’ Working at a place that values your physical and mental well-being has made such a positive impact on the way I view my time, my body and my priorities. I learned that I don’t have to compromise my health for my career or vice versa, I could achieve a healthy balance for both.”

As he begins his second year as an MBA student, Mendoza is taking the opportunity to connect the dots of his Anderson experience thus far. Leveraging the curriculum of the program, the Anderson alumni network and business skills learned during his first year, he’s been able to obtain clarity on his personal and career goals for his future. What started as a 10-week experience guided by passion and values ended up providing exponential value toward his post-MBA career journey.

Mendoza received a full-time offer from Nike following the conclusion of his internship, and he will be returning to Nike after graduating in June 2023.