Ten years at Target! As I reflect on that milestone, one thought pushes itself to the forefront: Target to me will always be a place that lets me bring my passions and interests to work.
My current role leading Corporate Social Responsibility at Target India is the one closest to my heart. This is what brings me to the office each morning, knowing that I get to work on my passion: to make a difference. I have always been passionate about volunteering. Call it good luck, but during my very first week of my employment at Target I participated in a volunteering event and I was hooked for the next 10 years.
The best thing about my job is that no two days are ever the same and every day my experiences teach me something new. The leadership team has always been supportive and open to new ideas. For instance, recently, I decided we could get some Target team members to crochet/knit hats for children undergoing treatment at a local cancer hospital. I was not sure how this idea would be received, as crochet/knitting is not something everyone would call cool and we would need volunteers to support the initiative.
I was in for a pleasant surprise when the leadership team was supportive and we received an overwhelming response from volunteers. Some team members even took the trouble to learn to crochet and involve family members, so they could contribute to the cause. We reached our target number of hats way before the deadline. And the smiles of the children when they received those colorful caps brought tears to the eyes of all the volunteers. They thanked me for giving them the opportunity to make a difference. It made me realize that my job enables me to see a very emotional and vulnerable side of people.
As I think about the journey that brought me to this point, I reflect on my first job at Target on the pharmacy team. My educational training and my passion for health and healing made this a natural fit. As I started looking for additional responsibilities, my leaders were supportive in finding me additional opportunities. One such opportunity was in the field of technology. It was poles apart from my current field, and I was unsure that I would fit in. However, with my leader’s encouragement I took the plunge and it opened up a whole new world. It was a humbling experience to be taught the intricacies of software development from scratch, not to mention learning a whole new lexicon just to be able to understand and to be understood.
Through my journey, I have realized that the right attitude and a willingness to learn is all that is needed to achieve one’s aspirations. Target is a company that will go the extra mile to help build one’s skillsets and ensure that team members bring their passion and interests to work. Most importantly, Target respects the multifaceted personality that is you and helps provide the balance that all of us strive to achieve.
One thing I’ve found fascinating while working at Target is how much time I spend on activities and events outside the office. Just last week, my team and I, along with many Target employees across the SF Bay Area convened at a local elementary school to makeover their library. As many of you are aware, Target donates $4 million a week and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours per year to our local communities with a large focus on supporting education.
I was dumbfounded when I first heard those figures, but after witnessing the turnout and support from all the team members in the area, it all made sense to me why Target was so special and how we’re able to accomplish such a tremendous feat. As part of the library makeover, everyone was all-hands-on-deck as we installed new shelves, tables and computers and distributed thousands of books and education materials to the students. Watching the ribbon cutting ceremony and the ensuing flood of kids and their families enter their new library was such a gratifying experience. It was great to see the joy that a new book brought to each student or the potential that an iPad brought to instructing kids for years to come.
The volunteer activities that I have attended while at Target have been some of the most enjoyable and memorable events I’ve experienced at a company and have truly made me value the importance of corporate responsibility.
Finally, it’s not all work and no play. Today I had the privilege of attending my first grand opening of a new Target store! The event marked the arrival of just the second City Target in San Francisco in a little less than a year. If you ever wondered what it’s like at a store during a grand opening, it’s a bit like Disneyland in a box.
After almost a year at Target, I finally got my chance to get a pic with Target’s #1 celeb, Bullseye the dog! On top of that, the store had tons of food catered by local vendors and live music. It was great to see so many familiar faces that I had just seen last week at the library makeover show up and mingle in a casual environment. I’m definitely looking forward to more of these!
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I have a tendency to let my passion take over and get myself into adventures that make me feel like I’m in way over my head. The latest project was titled Run for the Arts! A 5k walk/run to raise money and awareness for fine and performing arts education here in Omaha. If you ever think planning a 5k is an easy way to raise money; I’m here to tell you that it’s not.
Luckily for me I had the support of my store and district. With just one email, I was able to fill every volunteer position. The run quickly became a well-known volunteer event for my store and Target volunteers helped cover everything from helping set the course, setting up food and handling registration. I never could have imagined the amount of support I received. For its first year, the fundraiser was a great success raising over a thousand dollars. With my store team leader’s support, I was able to apply for a grant from Target. Turns out the company and I share the same passion for arts education! I had no idea that the company sponsored grants to various organizations for field trips, early childhood reading education, and arts education. With the Target grant and the money raised from the event I was able to give a total of $3000 dollars back to the community to support arts education.
Not only was my team able to raise funds for a good cause, we were also able to accumulate volunteer hours to help the company reach its goal of 700,000 team member volunteer hours. The fun didn’t stop with Run for the Arts! As my stores community captain, I have been able to plan several volunteer events for both my store and the district. As a store, we have exceeded our goal of 418 volunteer hours and will continue to volunteer as a team and make a difference in our community. I could not be happier to be a part of a company that sees the importance of giving back to the community, and cannot wait to plan more very successful events in the future!
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