Making the Bullseye – The Executive Intern’s Guide
Here are the main lessons I have taken away from my experience as an Executive Intern for Target:
Know your team, know your business.
Your first week as an Intern at Target feels like learning a new language; there are hundreds of business concepts, terms, and especially acronyms to take in. This is just one reason why building relationships with your team is crucial as they will teach you the language of Target and help you become a successful leader. It is a matter of weeks before you will be leading your team of 100+ people in order to operate a multi-million dollar store (with full support from your store mentor of course!). Knowing your team is dually critical when giving directions and when asking for help. You’ll also find that the team has some pretty amazing people on it!
Embrace uncertainty and be courageous.
Much of the executive internship is unstructured because no two days at Target are exactly alike. After a few weeks of training in all areas of the store, I began acting as Leader on Duty (LOD), making me the highest point of contact in the store for the day. An LOD supervises every process in the store and ensures that things are running smoothly. Being LOD requires problem solving for guests, team members, vendors, and corporate. To take on this role, interns must embrace uncertainty and show courage and confidence when taking action.
Understand the big picture.
The executive internship is a thorough learning experience. Beyond my store leadership I have had the opportunity to tour a Target Distribution Center, shadow a Store Team Leader, District Team Leader, Human Resources Business Partner and Sales Market Leader, as well as chat with some of Target’s Group Vice Presidents. During each experience, I made a point to understand not only the “how” but also the “why” of what I was learning in order to bring context to my leadership and to support the best interest of Target.
A quick tip: Target’s CEO, Brian Cornell and his executive team make bold, strategic decisions for our company. Read about Target’s latest news using your resources in the store and reputable news sources to stay on top of initiatives affecting your business.
Say “thank you” to feedback.
Coming from a background in consulting and non-profits, I was surprised when I entered into the feedback oriented culture at Target. In my previous experiences, co-workers had feedback regarding each other’s performance but often would not share it. All team members at Target, especially interns, partake in formal statuses with their mentors to help identify their strengths and opportunities for growth. I have found these statuses to be an excellent tool for my personal development. Knowing what my opportunities are, I partner with my mentors to take action to improve. My best piece of advice is to say “thank you” and give recognition each step of the way to those who push you to become a great leader.
As an intern it can be easy to feel obligated to spend all of your time learning Target’s best practices and executing them. This is true, but don’t sell yourself short! You can add value to Target. Since beginning my internship, I have helped improve our stores performance by doing everything from coming up with new initiatives to recognize team members who save our guests 5% with the Target Red Card to creating a new system to restock batteries (yes batteries!) throughout the store. Your contribution doesn’t have to be big in order to have influence. You bring a fresh, unique perspective that should be shared.
Have a blast!
Target is a fun place to work. Every day, our store leadership works to bring the team together in small ways through games, contests, fun traditions, and especially food. Some days, we have fun in big ways too. So far, I have helped throw an all-day barbeque for Team Member Appreciation Day, championed calendar events like “Fresh Toast Friday”, tagged along to a leadership-building trip to Six Flags, and spent a morning making breakfast for families at a the Ronald McDonald House. My very best advice is to make the most of it because ten weeks will fly!
Interested in joining Target? Learn more here.