A Year In Industry at JD Sports

Written by Minori Iwahashi

Sneakers and streetwear – these are two words that describe my interest in fashion entirely. Being the undisputed leader of this particular realm of retail, JD Sports took a chance on me as their Social Media Intern for 2018/19.

It all began with an application long forgotten. The University of Leeds Careers Website advertised an opening for a placement student at JD’s head office in Manchester. Having immediately applied in December, the invitation to attend the assessment centre almost came as a belated Christmas present, delivered to my inbox in late March. However, the real surprise arrived in April when I was offered the position the morning after the interview, not even 24 hours after I had competed against 12 people for the same role.

Ecstatic does not even begin to describe how I felt back then.

With a June start, the internship was earlier than most but was a 12-month contract like many. Working Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, it was a year full of firsts; first time living alone, first full-time job, first Black Friday, first business trip and first time going abroad for work. The role was far from the typical coffee errand intern as I was fully immersed into the business, often mistaken for an actual employee. This was by far the best compliment I ever received because this misjudgement proves that young people, particularly students, can carry themselves professionally during their Year in Industry and be taken seriously.

Getting a role in social media means quickly realising that there are as many opportunities as there are responsibilities. Having heard the harmless joke that “all I do is post pictures” many times throughout the past year, it is with great pleasure that I debunk this misconception with my experience at JD.

The social team aims to inspire consumers and customers through JD’s online presence, driving sales by promoting an aspirational yet attainable style. Cultivating a culture in sports fashion, I view social media as an invitation into our world, an open conversation between us and the audience. Predominantly tasked with scheduling Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts, I upload product-focused content across our channels on a daily basis without being a bulletin board of what one should buy. Maintaining a consistent brand image, communicating with the audience in their native lingo through tone of voice, and liaising with stakeholder partner brands, social media is a reactive, quick-turnaround field where the work does not stop after 5PM and pause until the next morning. It is not a simple click of the button job and not every placement student can say they have managed an Instagram account of 1.2 million followers, let alone be proud of having worked with brands like Nike and adidas on a regular basis.

In fact, make that person, not just student.

All the above accounts to why I am so thankful to JD, for never holding the intern label against me. Looking back, my BA Hons. Film, Photography & Media degree proved to be the perfect foundation for this placement. My creativity flourished in this role as my practical skills in filmmaking and photography came handy in the office but also when attending external events hosted by our partner brands. Despite being one of the youngest people in the office, there was never any hesitation from my team in sending me off on a business trip, whether that be Manchester city centre, London or even as far away as Berlin.

My first solo-trip was only three weeks into my internship; a Vans photoshoot in Bournemouth where I was in charge of gathering ‘Behind The Scenes’ content as the sole representative of JD. This was a monumental moment of my career, which is why I feel gratitude for the responsibilities and opportunities I was given during my placement year, as it was not something I anticipated at the start of this journey.

261 working days and 11 business trips later, I cross the finish line.

I reflect nothing but positively on the past year. Thanks to JD, my CV now includes work experience with renown businesses like adidas, Nike, The North Face, New Balance, Puma and Vans. My personal highlights include meeting Hailey Baldwin Bieber, spending a weekend skating in Berlin for work, being showcased at London Graduate Fashion Week 2019 all whilst building an extensive creative portfolio on www.minoriiwahashi.com and my Instagram @minori.jpg. Meeting countless industry specialists, artists, innovators and hardworking colleagues, my internship has led to exponential personal growth and an ever-growing professional network.

The true value behind a placement year is the evidence of maturity, from start to finish, within a year of one’s early career. It is unlike any other experience at University, strenuous at times, but well worth it. To anyone considering a placement, without a doubt – do it.

For any questions about my Year in Industry, please feel free to contact me at minori-link@leeds.ac.uk

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Minori Iwahashi
Hi, My name is Minori. I was born in Japan but grew up in Germany for 16 years. After completing my International Baccalaureate, I decided to come to Leeds and...
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