In November of 2014, I hadn’t worked a regular job in 27 years. I’d been a musician, a novelist, a web designer, an independent business owner – often all at the same time. I made my own hours, chose my own clients, and answered to no one. However, though I made a living, it was not a steady one. There were slow times and bare patches, and the fall of 2014 had been slower and barer than most. With Christmas coming, and two children expecting presents, my wife (who already worked full time) and I agreed that I would pick up some seasonal work to get us through the holidays.
I hadn’t punched a clock since I quit delivering pizzas in the spring of 1987. And that was in Massachusetts. I’d never held a job in Minnesota. Neither did I want one. But I was willing to grit my teeth and lift heavy things for a few months to save Christmas. By the New Year, I figured, something would come up. I’d sell another book, get a few gigs, pick up another web client – something.
I knew Target hired seasonal employees. I applied and went through the interview process and within a week, I was gainfully employed as a Backroom team member, responsible for moving product from semi-trailers into our backroom and preparing it to go out onto the sales floor.
It was hard, sweaty work. The Christmas rush was on and the backroom was a frenzy. We shifted pallet after pallet onto shelves, onto tubs, onto the floor. We ran up and down stairs getting products for guests. We pulled auto cafs, research, exfs, POGs – I didn’t understand what the names and acronyms meant yet, except that when they appeared on the PDA I knew had to clear them off of it as quickly as possible. I once described my job as, “walking ten miles a day stopping only to lift heavy things.”
I loved it.
I loved it and I had no idea why. It was hard, physical work, but not unbearable. It was kind of like a workout I got paid to do. In fact, I lost about thirty pounds over the first six months I worked in the backroom. But that certainly wasn’t enough to make me love it.
I liked the people I worked with: my teammates, my team leaders. That was enough to make the job tolerable; it still didn’t explain why I loved it.
Then it hit me: I was part of a team. And it was a team I liked and was proud of.
I had always worked alone. After all, that’s what “self-employed” means. But at Target, the sense of team pervaded every part of my day. I might work certain aspects of the job on my own, but we accomplished things as a team. You couldn’t beat the hourly CAFs alone – you needed your team. The cres of backstock couldn’t even be approached solo; we conquered them as a team. And when we finished our work, saw the sales floor swoop in and work their carts out to the floor, we knew we were part of an even bigger team. The store rose and fell as a team, and I knew the whole company did, as well. As opposed to my days as a freelancer, where I was at the top of the ladder, here I was at the bottom — but it was a ladder that stretched high and tall, and I was proud to be part of the base that held it sturdy.
By the time the New Year rolled around, I was no longer hoping for something freelance to come up; I was hoping to be asked to stay on full time. Of course, I didn’t just wait. I asked my leaders repeatedly but politely what I had to do to be kept on. Okay, maybe I pestered them a little. Just like I pestered them to get cross-trained in other areas once I was full time. Not that I had to pester them much. I’ve learned that Target is committed to developing internal talent. Once they realized that I was interested in expanding my capabilities, I had fantastic mentors who consistently brought me ideas and opportunities for education and advancement. And when I brought my ideas to them, they were willing to help me make them a reality.
And so, two and half years after getting my first job in nearly three decades – a job I didn’t want and expected to lose after a month or two — I am now Backroom Team Lead of T0260, and a proud member of the Target team. And I can’t imagine working (or not working) anywhere else.
Want to join our seasonal team? Learn more here.