What the UX team learned packing rice – and why you should join us next time!

On April 11, members of the UX team volunteered at Second Harvest Heartland, a food packing facility for families in need. This event was organized by UX designer Courtney. She took the initiative to get us organized and ready for our volunteer day. We proudly wore our red Target t-shirts, arrived at the facility and had a short orientation. Together we helped pack over 3,000 pounds of rice for families in need.

My name is Julieta, and I’m a UX designer for Target.com. I tried writing this article (emphasis on tried) as a chronological, inspiring journey with facts and metrics on why volunteering matters. As I was writing it, I realized how jaded I’ve become with Buzzfeed-style listicle articles that are easily digestible and easy to read, so I landed on that approach instead. Plus, as a novice writer, it makes it much more entertaining for me to write.

That being said, I do hope this inspires you and hopefully lights a fire inside you that will make you want to make time for volunteer opportunities.

HERE ARE THE TOP 5 REASONS WHY “VOLUNTEER DAY” WAS JUST WHAT OUR TEAM NEEDED:

1) Bonding time!
The UX team is pretty new. We as a team have grown in the past year, and we’re all slowly getting to know one another. Having time to connect outside of work while doing good for others is the perfect way to build connections with team members that you may not normally have conversations with. Plus, (surprisingly) it’s a pretty good way to relieve stress!

“A highlight for me was being able to spend time outside of work with my colleagues, and when we found out just how much food we were able to pack. It surprised me how much I was able to let go from my work-related obligations on a weekday. I had so much fun doing something so repetitive, I found it therapeutic.” – Jill, UX designer

2) Embracing our differences
There was a total of 40 volunteers that day, including our team from Target, teams from other companies like Wells Fargo, young students from a local high school, and senior folks who seemed to do this type of work regularly. I’ll let Todd say it more eloquently:

“Although we were presented with a placard stating we had packed 3,322 pounds of rice, like an oversized check presented to the winner of a sweepstakes, my impression was that our achievement there was much smaller, and yet more significant: people from diverse backgrounds working together toward a common good. I thought of that famous quote from Mother Teresa, ‘Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.’” – Todd, UX writer

3) It was work, but it was also fun
While we were packing rice, I spoke to a gentleman whose sole job was to add the expiration sticker to the rice pack. He took his job so incredibly seriously, and you could see he took pride on having the sticker straight, and on the correct place. After the first hour of practicing the motions, I became fixated on how perfectly I could seal each pack of rice. I knew these were for families in need and I wanted them to be perfect. It became fun to have little challenges in which I challenged myself to do it the fastest, and the neatest. As Kim also expressed:

“I felt like I was actually making a positive difference in someone’s life, and I couldn’t believe how easy (and fun!) it could be.” – Kim, UX designer

4) We’re so lucky
Not every company encourages their employees to take time out of their day to help out others. Target has a pyramid of volunteer hours that we as a company need to complete by the end of the year. It’s truly an amazing thing that Target allows us to do this, and for that I’m thankful! As Courtney also put it:

“What I liked about volunteering last week was getting out of our daily routine to help people who need a basic necessity such as food. It was so satisfying to learn how many meals we were able to pack and to feed people, and we did it all in less than 2 hours! It feels so good to give back directly to my community. It made me feel proud to work for Target and to be able to do that with my colleagues.” – Courtney, UX designer

5) Perspective
A few themes emerged from this whole experience: the teamwork, the fun, the greater good, but most of all, the “put your words into action” sentiment. We all care about our own causes: hunger, the environment, female rights, animal rights, you name it. But how can we take those issues that are dear to our hearts and start doing something about it? There’s no easy answer to that, and we all try our best. So with that, I’ll let Jen close the article with a quote that I think summarizes the entire day:

“For me, spending time with my colleagues at Second Harvest while we all happily packed rice together allowed me to see each of them in a very different light. While I was well aware of the depth that is inherent in each of us – volunteering translated that ‘knowing’ to ‘seeing’ and ‘remembering.’
Three hours of packing rice together might not change the world, but within those same three hours, two significant things happened: my colleagues changed the way I see the world and we nudged a plateful of food just a bit closer for someone in need. That is putting hope into action.” – Jennifer, PhD., UX researcher

To learn more about Second Harvest, visit 2harvest.org.

My Target Internship: Jabari

Target offers Store Executive, Distribution, HQ Undergrad and HQ Graduate internship opportunities.  Want to learn more?  Jabari, an HQ intern in Technology, shares his experience below.

Name: Jabari
Lives in: White Plains, NY
College year: 4th year at SUNY New Paltz

Why I decided to do an internship at Target:  This is my second summer at Target. The first time I chose to intern here was because I had the opportunity to meet several recruiters and visit the headquarters. The Target representatives demonstrated to me Target had a great company culture, and there was a lot of new technology to be learned. After my first summer, I can say that Target exceeded my expectations. The laid back, but still hard-working and productive tech culture was everything that I imagined and more. Through that experience, I have learned skills that have jumpstarted my professional career. I chose to come back because I knew that with Target, it could only get better. I knew that even though I learned a ton of things, my ten-week experience only showed me a tiny piece of what Target has to offer.

Which Target team(s) will I be working with this summer, and what my role is:  This year I am working with Data Store Services. In particular, I will be working as a Front-end JavaScript Web Developer to develop a web portal for internal use.

What I hope to learn and what skills I hope to build: My technological skills lie primarily in the realm of back-end Java development. For this reason, I am delighted to have been placed on a team where I will be working almost entirely with front-end. I hope to end this experience as a confident entry-level web developer who has a good grasp on JavaScript frameworks such as AngularJS, NodeJS, and has a great understanding of design patterns such as Factory and Model View Controller (MVC).

My Target team first impressions:  I was surprised at the large size of the broader team, and they were all very kind when we did our rounds introducing ourselves. My immediate team is just myself and another intern. On the other hand, contrary to the larger team, I was surprised at how small our team was!

Favorite moment so far: My favorite experience so far has been when I learned that I was on a team of two that will be working on an entirely new project. Although this means more work for me, this means I will really become a master of my trade. Last year with my first experience working at the enterprise level, I really needed the support of working on a well-established team that already had its product in development. However, this time around, the team only consists of another intern and myself, and we are in charge of everything. I am ready for the challenge!