How Target internships prepared these team members for their future careers
Target internships provide a unique, challenging, and highly rewarding opportunity for people in all stages of their professional journey. To shed light on our programs and how they help prepare interns for a future career, the Pulse team asked three Target team members to reflect on their experiences as an intern. Read on to see where they are now and get their take on our programs, opportunities post-internship, and advice for future Target interns.
Describe your experience as a Target intern.
Eddie, Principal Engineer (former technology intern): I started at Target as an intern in the summer of 2006, after my first year of grad school at Indiana University. I was placed with two others in a technology role supporting what is now the Stores & Financial Retail Services organization, working on adding free-form text searching capabilities to item search. The project was just starting, so I got to work on everything from mock-ups to a prototype, including preparing the project for a proof of concept.
The highlight of the internship was a few weeks afterward when I asked a team member for help finding something at my local Target store, and they were using the version of item search with the changes I had helped make.
Summer, District Senior Director (former store intern): I was an intern the summer of 2008 at a local Target store in Michigan, shadowing the Executive Team Leader-HR (ETL-HR) and Store Director. I loved having the opportunity, encouragement and free reign to create, implement and measure the success of a training program for all cashiers to help them better understand and sell the benefits of the Target REDcard to our guests. Specifically, I created content, rewards and training materials that I used with team leaders to help each cashier feel fully informed and engaged in the expectations of their role.
Michael, HR Business Partner (former distribution center intern): I interned the summer of 2016 at in Suffolk, VA. It was an opportune time as our building had just converted to an Upstream Distributional Center (UDC), which allowed me to experience a brand-new building format. I had a great experience as a Target intern, due in part to my mentor who did an amazing job helping me engage with the team and understand the business. It was this foundational time that really allowed me to know what was expected of me in the role and give it my all.
In what roles have you worked since your time as an intern? How did the internship program prepare you for your career path at Target?
Summer: In my 10 years since the internship, I’ve held multiple roles across multiple districts and states that helped shape my leadership. These roles include; Executive Team Leader (ETL) in HR and Logistics, Store Director, Human resources Business Partner, Human Resources Director and now District Senior Director. The internship gave me a true idea of what each role would entail and success factors of each so that when provided those opportunities, I had a shorter learning curve.
Eddie: The internship lead me to the Technology Leadership Program (TLP), which exposed me to many different types of roles over a two-year period. I spent time with the Client Support Center (CSC) enterprise support, vendor management and business intelligence (BI) development teams. Then I returned to a stores technology team to work on BI and proof of concept work. The internship prepared me for this in two ways – getting exposure to stores and its systems, and how to “live” on a team full time and contribute. The internship was modeled after a singular TLP rotation at the time, so it was a good immersion experience into the team and prepared me for the change from school to work.
Michael: After the internship program, I joined Target as a full time Operations Manager (OM) within the distribution center. Just over a year into role, I was promoted to the Certified Executive Trainer (CET) for my department where I was able to train and onboard eight new Operations Managers. After developing and training those OMs, I was promoted to my current role of HR Business Partner where I support one-third of our buildings’ total staff (around 400 people). The internship program helped me prepare for my career at Target by providing me with a realistic job preview of my role. It also allowed me to have a better understanding of how the business worked which enabled me to be successful earlier in my career at Target.
What are you working on now?
Eddie: I’m currently working on several guest facing experiences. Specifically, Service Hubs – the devices replacing existing price checkers and adding new capabilities for our guests in store and “MyDay” – the primary application team members in our stores use to do their daily work. In both cases, I’m working on projects that touch the most visible aspect of what we do – our stores. Similar to the most impactful part of my internship, I can see the things I develop at work, in use as I walk through a store. Everything I do has an impact, from infrastructure work to API development and networking.
Summer: This year I’ve spent all of my time and energy implementing a completely new operating model to my 9 stores, our first change in op model since I have been with the company. From new titles and new core roles to an entirely new way of scheduling and getting work completed, “stores modernization” has helped lead us to our record-breaking stock prices, happier teams (that are truly business owners) and better looking stores. My role in this has been building my dream team of leaders, training my Store Directors on new skills to lead differently, and validating behaviors throughout stores daily.
What opportunities does Target provide for learning, growth and development?
Eddie: So many varied opportunities depending on what kind of learner you are and the experiences you’re seeking. I’m a book learner, so my favorite outlet for learning is Safari Books Online, (which gives us access to their entire library of books) but there are several other online training resources for guidance. What’s important is that Target gives you time to learn things. As for growth, you get connections to business networks for almost any interest or personal alignment, and it’s also easy to find mentors; just a matter of asking. I’ve never experienced anyone declining a request at mentorship in my entire time here, which really speaks to our culture of growth as well.
Summer: One of the favorite aspects of my journey over the last 11 years are the additional programs I’ve been part of. Aside from new roles and challenges within my roles, I’ve had multiple mentors and bosses that have gone on to Lead Director level positions in the company. I’ve also been part of developmental programs that helped me explore my leadership style. Each Target meeting or training has left me motivated, curious and determined.
How would you describe the Target culture?
Michael: Target’s culture is the reason I stay. It allows you to be your authentic self and lead with your strengths. It allows you to get feedback in a constructive environment and drive change. This is the only company where I feel that I’m able to be who I want to be, and I’m accepted for that. It makes all the difference in the world.
Summer: Target is a place where leaders can leverage their authentic selves to drive results through talented teams. There is a strong sense of self-awareness, teamwork and constant learning. It is a culture built on 360-degree feedback and transparency. It is a fast-paced environment where strong performance and effort are recognized and rewarded.
Looking back on your experience as an intern, what advice would you share with someone considering an internship with Target?
Eddie: Rather than thinking of yourself as “the intern,” just be a team member on a working team. Express interest in learning what the team does beyond just working stories in a sprint, or get to know your business partner and their peers to see how your project is part of a bigger picture.
Michael: Own your own development. Set up time with people and be open and honest about what you want to do, take opportunities to change things that need to be changed, tell people about how you’re going about it, and be receptive to feedback. Don’t ever think that just because it’s always been done this way means that it should always be done that way. Lastly, come into the internship with no expectations and be prepared to experience a great opportunity with an amazing company.
Curious about a Target internship? Learn more about our internship programs and explore opportunities near you at target.com/careers.