Aggressive. Young. Fearless.
I got off of the elevator on my first day at Under Armour, and those were the words proudly displayed right outside of my office, jutting out from a gorgeous, wooden wall. My first glimpse of all of the wonder and madness that was to come.
I was nervous. Star-of-a-deodorant-commercial nervous. And I had been for weeks. When I got the call that I’d be joining Under Armour’s Global Communications team for the spring semester, I could barely wait to hang up the phone before screaming in my apartment. Tens of thousands of college students around the WORLD apply for UA’s internship programs, and they rarely have openings during the school year. Yet there I was, by some combination of luck and over-edited writing samples, about to jump headfirst into the biggest brand in Baltimore. For the first time in a long time, my seven-year-old self thought I was the coolest gal in town.
I prepared in typical, type-A, Hopkins kid fashion. I spent Christmas break poring over UA’s 2016 triumphs, star athletes, and product launches. UA apparel was at the top of my Christmas list. With several Google alerts and my brand-new coffee machine (Thanks, Mom and Dad) in place, I felt as ready as I was going to be for my plunge into UA’s intense, fast-paced world, where sports and fashion somehow perfectly align. My last employer was a fraction of a fraction of the size of UA. It felt like starting college all over again, first-day outfit and all.
And I was right. Nothing ultimately could prepare me for the unprecedented, nearly indescribable, Under Armour experience. I’m only three months in, and I’m already hooked, from my head to my UA-clad toes. When people ask me just how incredible it is to be a teammate (because duh, of course it is), I know the information they think they’re looking for. Yes, I get free stuff. Yes, I’ve met KP (He asked me where my boss was once; it was THRILLING). Yes, the view is the best in Baltimore. Yes, Port Covington is even more amazing than it sounds. Yes, yes, and yes.
These standouts and perks are fun. And they make for good stories to tell my grandparents, who have followed this company since it was barely even a blip on the radar. But they aren’t the real reason to love Under Armour.
It’s been the experience of a lifetime because of the culture. These people really do. Not. Stop. The relentless pursuit of excellence and inexhaustible work ethic you hear about in all of the press aren’t just empty words creating an illusion of UA being as tough as its products. That picture is the real deal. The atmosphere isn’t just one of happy employees loving their jobs, but also one of 10,000% commitment. Nobody is working for a paycheck. Every single teammate that I’ve collaborated with, or even seen going about their business on campus, gives it their all, every single minute of the day, because they believe in their brand. They feel ownership towards it. Going to work every day is a lesson in intrinsic motivation at its finest.
Within weeks, I was shocked by just how much the culture of Under Armour mirrors that of Hopkins. Maybe that’s why I’ve fallen in love with UA; it reminds me of home. I often take for granted that I’m surrounded by extraordinary peers who are driven by no other force than a bone-deep desire to be great. Perhaps that’s what I’ll miss the most. It’s a relief to know that this level of commitment and passion can exist outside of JHU and in the corporate world. My new home.
The new members of the Class of 2021 got their acceptance letters a couple of weeks ago. (I’m still living in spring break time, so it feels like just yesterday.) And while I won’t get to meet most of them, I have faith that they will only add to the culture of excellence that has made my four years so unforgettable. So welcome home, Class of 2021. I challenge you to uphold that legacy of excellence. I challenge you to be aggressive, young, and fearless.