FCS Alumna scores with Nike, Inc.

April Richardson '06 combined a retail merchandising major with a marketing minor to score a career at Nike, Inc.

January 27, 2011

When merchandising alumna April Richardson was still searching for a university, she chose Bradley for its small, intimate campus. Now, her time here has led her to find success at a much larger “campus” – that of the world headquarters of Nike, Inc.

Richardson, a 2006 Bradley graduate, is currently an event marketing and brand program specialist for Nike, Inc. in Beaverton, Oregon. She coordinates events such as exclusive question and answer sessions with NBA athletes, basketball skills clinics, and organizes the grand opening events of Nike and Foot Locker’s basketball specialty store, House of Hoops by Foot Locker.

Richardson came to Bradley hoping to get involved in the fashion industry. She had always been fascinated by fashion designing, and her interest in the business side of the industry led her to major in retail merchandising with a minor in marketing. At Bradley, she became involved in multiple student organizations, including intramural bowling, Kappa Omicron Nu Honors Society, Fashion Focus, the NAACP, and the Bradley Hospitality Association, for which she served as the public relations chair.

After graduation, she got a job in visual merchandising at the Chicago NikeTown store on Michigan Avenue. From there, she quickly climbed up to a position in Nike’s corporate offices and moved to the Portland, Oregon, area.

She says Nike is a fun, relaxed place to work that takes her back to her college days.

“It reminds me of Bradley, just a little bigger,” Richardson said.

Working at Nike’s world headquarters also comes with some unique perks.

“If you want to play a sport, there’s always someone playing basketball or soccer,” she said. “You never know what to expect when you’re on campus. You might see LeBron James or Tiger Woods!”

The excitement of getting to work with professional athletes comes with its own set of frustrations, however. Richardson has had difficulty locking in dates for appearances by athletes, where she has had to prepare for events without even knowing if a particular athlete would be available.

One of her favorite parts of her job does not involve current professional athletes, but rather the youths who may follow in their footsteps. Richardson said it is very rewarding “seeing kids from less fortunate areas participating in the basketball skills clinics” and getting to see and take inspiration from their beloved sports heroes.

Richardson said she valued her experiences at Bradley and loved her classes and professors. She credits professors Dr. Chang-Ok Choi, Heidi Rottier, and Dr. Nina Collins with helping her learn independence and responsibility, along with how to balance work, school, and life. Although Richardson lives far from Bradley now, she still maintains contact with several college friends and makes occasional trips to the Peoria area.