Connecting the Dots

I am currently interning at the Sterling West Target in Northern Virginia. I am a rising senior at James Madison University (GO DUKES), double majoring in Communication Studies and Technical Science Communication. Most interns are excited to buy new red shirts and khaki pants, get their Target name tag and learn about how their favorite store is run- but I had a little different of an onboarding experience.

Target was my first job when I was 16 years old. It was the first place I drove to without paternal supervision. It was the first place I interviewed at with my little black business suit. And I still have pictures of when I took my first Target paycheck to Bank of America, to open my first bank account. As you can tell, Target holds many memories and first for me, and yes I am one of those sentimental people. But what amazes me is that although I am in a different store, with different executive team leaders and in a completely different position- I see that many of the things are still the same. I am talking about the Target culture; the emphasis on our guest relations, the energy that comes from being part of a team, and the reality of “fast, fun and friendly” service.

Of course many things have changed. There is no more “green world” and “blue world.” PDAs are in color and there are groceries! But I am pleased to say that I am back in this nurturing and supported environment that focuses not only on leadership development, but also personal development.

When I was a team member I worked as a cashier, on the sales floors and with promotional signing. And I hate to admit it, but I was 16 years old- and of course I cut a few corners here and there. The most important thing I have learned from my internship so far is seeing the big picture and how everything is connected. Everyone’s job at Target impacts the whole store and everyone’s job relies on one another. I realize that those few corners I cut in my past could have escalated and impacted the whole Target brand.

Brand. The second most important thing I learned from my second Target experience. When I was a sales floor team member, I heard that word multiple times. Brand. “We have to keep up the brand” or “this isn’t brand.” But I do not think I truly understood what the whole concept of brand meant until I walked my first assessment with my mentor. At Target, brand means expectation. And we have high expectations. The expectation that every Target store has the same feel while also catering to the guest of that location. The expectation that we are a different kind of retail store, and by different I mean better, classier. Target is Target because of our brand. Our guests come to us and are loyal to us because we are fast, fun and friendly. Because we value our guest and because we keep a clean store with an emphasis on presentation. This is all brand.

My internship is almost over and I have learned so much. It is amazing the amount of insight I carried over from my first Target experience to my internship, and I am excited to see how many more dots will be connected as I continue my hopeful journey as an executive team leader.

Post by Tina, Executive Team Leader Intern


Learn more about Target opportunities for college students here.

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