coders gonna do what coders gonna do.

Internal events are an important part of how Target is growing it’s engineering culture and gives folks an opportunity to learn and do things in new and different ways.

An example would be the CODEred Hack event held on June 28 where 160+ engineers from across Target converged on Target Plaza Commons to spend 6 hours bringing an idea to (hopefully) life.

28 teams worked on team identified projects that included everything from chatbots to a project that produced computer generated artwork with a Target flair to contributing a fix for a Camel Kafka open issue.

Wait. Some projects involved helping the open source community? YEP! Target strongly believes in giving back to the communities of which it is a member…including the larger technology community.

So what was it like at the hack? Imagine a celebration of all that is code where you are free to celebrate your inner nerd/geek/coder. Now multiply that by 10 with plenty of snacks, pizza and caffeine to keep you coding. Toss in a summer day glorious enough to have the Commons’ jumbo garage door open (see picture) onto the massive lawn complete with games for the occasional break. It was that good.

The day wrapped with 90-second demos of work done between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., with attendees voting for winners in one of five categories:

• Make.IT.Happen – we need to make this real NOW
• #almostawesomesauce – keep iterating, keep going
• Thinking Outside the Box – using a tool or capability in a new or unexpected way
• Most Spectacular Fail – great idea but failed to realize on this day
• Coders Choice – think People’s Choice Awards … but for Coders

Members from our summer intern program team won “Coders Choice” for creating a chatbot to help folks new in town get familiar with Minneapolis (including fun things to do).

At the end of the day, as one of the event organizers I can honestly say the following quotes from attendees made all the work worthwhile:

• “I loved seeing the swirl of technical activity! All coming together to create something new/innovative/or extremely needed. It is a very cool business high.”

• “It was cool to spend a day focused on an objective and work with my peers on something interesting (and fun).”

Next event on the agenda? Target’s first joint event converging our internal Product, Lean, Agile and DevOps communities (we’re calling it Mid by Midwest). Look for an update here in August.

TIP: Want to know what’s happening when it happens? Follow @CodewithTarget and #DOTGT on Twitter or Instagram.  Interested in learning more about tech at Target?  Check out codewithtarget.com

TGT @ HackingEDU: Talent is Talent

If the attendees at the 2015 #HackingEDU event in San Mateo, CA (October 23-25) have a common trait, it’s passion about education and technology, heavy emphasis being on the technology aspect. Sitting at long tables in uncomfortable folding chairs, consuming mass quantities of energy drinks, water, snacks, candy, with eclectic music tracks playing, over a 36 hour hackathon, their attention is focused on using technology to creatively solve a problem. One thing is abundantly clear when talking with several of the participants: diversity in the technology field transcends common groupings (e.g., gender, race, Mac vs. PC).

Diversity for Target is more than a buzzword, it’s part of who we are and how we operate every day. Diversity is important to us because, like the Guests we serve, we’re an incredibly diverse group with offices and team members that span the globe (from our HQ locations in Minnesota and India to remote offices across 6 continents (sorry Antarctica)). For us, the goal is to be exclusively inclusive.

So how was this commitment to diversity manifested at the #HackingEDU event?

Diversity in Degrees: Early Friday night a student approached the Target booth asking about job opportunities. Her one concern was if her degree in neuroscience would be as limiting of a factor in Target technology as it seemed to be with other companies she was talking with. E.B. Hakkinen, the microbiologist staffing the booth and who is currently working on Target’s cloud engineering team, assured her it wouldn’t be a problem. Discovering your passion late in your college career is hardly unusual. If you have the proven ability to learn, work hard and #DO awesome, you’ve got what it takes to have a career at Target.

Diversity in Desired Opportunities: Not everyone was interested in talking full-time, post-college careers (at least not yet) and some were. The great thing was being able to talk about some of Target’s great programs: Summer Internships and the Technology Leadership Program. Both provide participants with the opportunity to work as part of a team creating technology solutions for a Fortune 50 enterprise that can change how people shop, connect and reach their full potential. Both can lead to full-time job offers based on performance and program completion.

Sponsoring events like #HackingEDU and Grace Hopper are examples of Target’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and education.

Interested in joining Target?  Learn more here.

Coding with Grace

On May 23, 2003 I happily walked down the aisle with my black robe on to accept my degree in Computer Science. I winked at my friend Katy as I walked passed – she was the other woman who graduated with a computer science major that year.

Katy and I were anomalies in our classes. We had an affinity for math and system thinking. Neither of us had ever coded before we got to college, and we were up against our male counterparts, many of whom tinkered with their own home networks (this was before wifi was prevalent), programmed their own apps, and setup their own databases. I felt so far behind and somewhat alone. I grew up on a farm; we didn’t get a computer until my junior year in high school. I was fascinated with the dot com boom and I wanted to be a part of this world of technology.

During those college years guys would ask me what I was majoring in and I would respond “computer science.” I could see the look in their eyes as they were seemingly judging me – that it seemed “weird” to them to have a girl in a tech field. For some reason, this was a big deal to me. I was too impressionable at the time and didn’t realize that the power to create the future was in front of me.

Luckily, changing majors just wasn’t an option; once I put my mind to something I do it. I had help along the way. My college internship was an incredibly valuable experience. Again, I worked with only men, and they were thoughtful mentors who exposed me to different careers in tech, taught me about servers, security, and SQL statements.

Fast-forward 11 years to earlier this month and there I was- meeting hundreds of brilliant women happily touting their Computer Science degrees at this year’s Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference in Phoenix, AZ. I smiled ear to ear as I learned about their favorite classes, how they were anxious to graduate, how they were looking for internships, experienced roles, or just wanted to learn more.

Being at Grace Hopper you wouldn’t think that there is a supply problem with women engineers- but the data is astoundingly imbalanced. In 2012, only 18% of computer grads were women. Women make up 57% of the work force, but only 25% in the tech industry. Until this is balanced out women may at times be faced with situations like I was in the beginning of my career: feeling like one among many, uncertain what to talk about, feeling as though society doesn’t understand why you would be in tech.

Ladies, the fact of the matter is this: you are savvy. You know that the future’s cornerstone is digital. I commend you. By learning all you can about technology, you’re solidifying your role in the act of creation – in the future. Choosing a career in technology is one of the most creative things that you can do. Keep it up.

At Target, we are committed to ensuring we have a diverse workforce – and that includes diversity of thought. We realize that the future of retail looks dramatically different than it does today and we are looking for people who want to be a part of that movement – those who have the power to dream and do, those who are curious and ambitious. Start-ups have led the way in technology as of late, but sadly, women are outnumbered there too. When women in engineering are asked why they leave or don’t even join start-ups, they often explain that it’s just too risky.  Happily, working in digital at Target is like working at a start-up, but with the comfort and stability of a big company. It wasn’t always like that, but like any successful company, we’ve adapted to better and more nimble ways of doing things that make it extremely fulfilling.

Women often cite a lack of female role models within technology; they don’t know how to model their careers because not many women have gone before them. Thankfully, Target is full of incredible female (and male!) role models — from analysts to executives. I admire their careers and their capabilities every day. The idea is: the possibilities are endless. The ability to shape your career and the future is in your hands, and there are so many people to help you with it. Target’s career development programs are fulfilling and inspiring. One just has to have the willingness to learn and continuous curiosity in order to create the career they desire – whatever form that may take.

To the Grace Hopper attendees: thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories and your intelligence with Target. I am excited for you and looking forward to the future that you will create.

Post by Sarah- Cartwheel Product Lead at Target Headquarters
Sarah is responsible for both the technical and business advancement of our Cartwheel mobile savings tool. She was recently named as a “25 Women to Watch in Mobile”.

Interested in a tech career with Target? We’re hiring! Take the coding challenge here to learn more.