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adidas: 3 things to consider when making early career choices

Category: Career and Talent Development, Age Initiatives, Age friendly


3 things to consider when making early career choices

January 28, 2020

by Jiaming Wang | Staff

Find out how Jiaming has shaped his career choices thanks to his recent involvement in adidas’ Digital Talent Program.

Having recently completed my amazing journey as part of adidas’ Digital Talent Program (DTP), I want to share what made my experiences so valuable for my development and hopefully provide some inspiration for your early career choices.

Throughout this journey, I’ve been lucky enough to experience different environments that have allowed me to fail fast and succeed; that have offered a creative, open-minded work culture; that have set me free, yet at the same time guided me.

Here are the three greatest learnings I’ve taken from it.


1.Guidance enables you to maximize your potential

Can you relate to the intimidating feeling of moving towards the end of sheltered college life and the cliff of graduation? When I was graduating from my master’s in Marketing at the ESADE Business School, I was overwhelmed by the range of opportunities. I didn’t know which one would be the best fit for me.

Embracing the diversity that I experienced at ESADE, I had a strong desire to continue my international journey. Looking at career entry options, I wanted freedom to drive what I would be working on, but I was also craving guidance along the route as a fresh graduate.


Like many digital natives who are passionate about entrepreneurship and digital innovation, I had fantasies of thriving in the free and creative space of a startup environment. However, working at an e-commerce startup in Germany a few months later, I realized:

“Freedom at work does not always equal creativity and meaningful growth.” 

At that early stage of my career, I personally felt like I could only grow and get to where I was aiming for with constant guidance and the empowering impact of mentoring somewhere else.

I ended up finding what I was looking for one year later, after I had swapped the intimate startup team for a huge, corporate community. In the Digital Talent Program at adidas, I was matched with Jacqueline Smith-Dubendorfer as my mentor from the senior leadership team. She has been guiding my professional development and providing valuable advice for my questions and ideas throughout the two-year trainee journey and beyond, until today.

“Being mentored in the early stage of my career has been a real gamechanger! ” 


2.Different challenges help you grow and find your way

As a digital trainee at adidas, I found guidance, yet freedom to experience different projects and understand what professional areas I aspire to pursue in my career.

For one of my rotations, I joined the Mobile App team to launch the adidas app in China. During the six months of working on this digital priority for the biggest and most digitally advanced market, I was empowered to take ownership of various initiatives. The responsibility I was given went beyond my expectations. The trust and respect for my work that my team showed me was thrilling.

Another rotation with adidas Runners strengthened my understanding of the three main pillars that define work culture at adidas: collaboration, confidence and creativity. The challenge for this rotation was to establish new adidas Runners communities alongside driving various other global digital initiatives. My team encouraged me to always share my views and creative ideas.

The motivational team culture enabled me to build confidence and a positive mindset. Finally, through close collaboration and guidance, I managed to get three new adidas Runners communities live: in Kyiv, Saigon and LA. Tackling challenges in such a fostering environment was an amazing development experience.

All four rotations gave me the freedom to explore my interests, the trust to challenge my abilities and cutting-edge digital initiatives to learn from.

Collaboration with people from all around the world empowers you to take the next step in your career.


3.Work culture empowers you to create

What always excited me most about digital technologies is that they enable us to create without boundaries – to connect the world and change peoples’ lives.

I love that at adidas I have the creative space to share the opportunities I see. And people listen. The culture is creative, like I am. Working here is like you’re in a global village with people from around the world. I feel blessed to experience different cultures and explore who I really am. With the guidance and support of people at adidas I am always encouraged and empowered to create something meaningful.

Having completed the program, I recently took on a new role as Manager Digital Planning in the Amsterdam office to drive reactive content efforts in Western European markets. I’m so pleased that my DTP journey encouraged me to aspire to this role and led me to where I am now. Besides four six-month rotations, you’ll get to experience how it is to work in other areas of the business including customer services and as a member of our retail team. In addition, you’ll have the chance to work with a startup, as well as get the chance to engage in various entrepreneurship training opportunities.

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