Internship Brings New Perspective
By Joe Doyle
Oregon State junior midfielder Jake Parker has been impressive on the soccer field in his first two years as a Beaver, but it's his work off the field that has caught the eyes of many.
Parker grew up loving soccer, attending his first match when he was just one week old.
"I grew up playing all sports, but my parents were really into soccer and so I might say that pushed me down this path," said Parker.
Parker is regarded as an important part of the Beavers men's soccer team. The attacking midfielder played in 14 games last year in which he recorded two points. Through two years of his college soccer career, Parker has 3 points with a promising junior year on the horizon.
Off the field, Parker has been even more impressive. He graduated high school with a 3.96 grade point average. On top of that, Parker was named to the Pac-10 All-Academic First Team his sophomore year.
"The coaches do a really great job making sure that we live two separate lives. We live one life on the soccer field and one in the classroom. It's tough, but we make sure to avoid procrastination and keep organized so we have our lives in order," Parker explained.
"Being able to work with [OSU associate athletic director] Linda Johnson has been huge for me. She's really helped me out along the way," he said.
"Jake is just a soft spoken, hard working individual," Johnson said of Parker. "He's a 'take no prisoners' kind of guy in everything he does. He is very intellectual in the way that he attacks everything he does."
Studying business information systems and showing such strong academic prowess, Parker has been presented several opportunities off the field, including the chance to intern at Nike Headquarters over this past summer in Beaverton, Ore.
"Seeing that work ethic and how he goes about his business on and off the field is probably what drew Nike to Jake," Johnson said.
The internship, supervised by Nike's Director of US Soccer Sports Marketing Joe Elsmore, offered Parker an inside look at the inner workings of the corporate world and how a company like Nike runs its business on a day-to-day basis.
"For a guy like me looking into corporate business as a career path, Nike showed me how to network, and how to get my foot in the door," said Parker. "It was an opportunity to coordinate and market several youth programs and things of that nature around the country."
"They helped me realize that in a corporate profession, first impressions mean a lot. They helped show me how to make a big impression with people. It's not as much what you know, but who you know, and how to get the ball rolling," he added.
The internship was a great experience for Jake, but it didn't come without its fair share of sacrifices. During the summer, all of Parker's teammates stayed in Corvallis and worked to improve for the upcoming season. Parker on the other hand, lived at home, and worked out on his free time.
Nike provided Parker an "incredible" experience to couple with the already in-depth internship. Toward the end of July, Parker was able to work in collaboration with England's Manchester United Red Devils and Nike's Inside Edge program. Inside Edge brought the English footballers over to the states in an attempt to promote youth soccer.
The program offered training sessions for all soccer players looking to gain that competitive edge on the field.
"It was really cool. Hundreds of fans came out to watch the team practice and kick it," Parker said. "I got to help in the set up for the practice sessions. Overall, it was a very cool experience."
Parker walked away from the sessions looking at soccer, and life for that matter, in a little different light.
"Seeing those guys out there, it was pretty cool how they carried themselves. The professionalism they showed in front of hundreds of people was pretty cool," Parker said. "It was like they were out there just kicking the ball around alone. It showed me that carrying yourself in a professional manner on and off the field is a really big deal."
Parker also got some invaluable exposure to some of the top soccer players in the world.
"I was able to attend some of the question and answer sessions with the coaches and players like Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand," he said. "It was a really great setting and pretty awesome to experience."
Parker anticipates a strong showing from Oregon State this year on the field and is anxious to show what he can do.
"Personally, I want have a positive impact on this team in any way I can. When I'm on the field, I want to help this team attack the goal," Parker said. "As a team, our number one goal is to reach the NCAA tournament and from there, anything is possible."
Parker is eager to showcase the qualities he learned in Beaverton this summer at Nike in the classroom and on the field.
"Overall, Nike just showed me how to take on anything and everything with the same mindset."