Hannah Burke a Retail Intern at Target
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and background?
I am a senior at Gonzaga, and I’m majoring in Spanish and International Relations. I am interested in History and how that can be applied in today’s world, looking at how the world works, social justice, and economics. This interest surfaced when I visited Washington DC with my dad - it was inspiring to see the rich history and varieties of backgrounds. Additionally, I worked with the Portland Trail Blazers as a team ball boy, where I got to witness how their team worked from both a structural and behavioral level. That all brought me to Target, which was really the first real work experience I had and helped launch my career.
How did you come across this internship?
I applied for a summer job in 2013, mainly for money. They hired me as a GSA, which is a level above minimum wage jobs. While I worked there, my supervisor encouraged me to apply for their regional internship, so my part part-time job led me into this. My supervisor was really helpful throughout the interview process and provided me with tips and connections.
Can you explain the Interview Process?
My first interview was over the phone with the district team lead; I only had one since I was aboard at the time. She mainly asked me questions about being a leader, my experience at Target, strengths and weakness, essay questions, and to name a time I didn’t get along with a co-worker. It was pretty straightforward and typical behavioral questions. The turnaround time was really quick – I interviewed in late December and they called me within a week of interviewing to offer me the position, and also maintained contact over email in an organized fashion.
Can you tell us about your role?
I was interning with the Asset Protection team, where I learned about how to protect losses within Target. I had a mentor and trainer who taught about the general position, and monitoring what was being misplaced both internally and externally. It was complicated because I didn’t have a license so I couldn’t detain people. In Southeast Portland, there are a lot of different demographics, which made the branch prone to losing more money - they lost $900,000. Sometimes you lose money through theft, miscommunication, bad counting or whatever reason it may be. This gave me the business skills and taught me how the business runs. In addition to being on the store level, this position had an impact at the company level as well.
What was the company culture like?
Target values team – it’s one of their main priorities. We each have departments but we work closely with everyone; that includes working with team members, and members of other teams. Everyone was involved, which is what makes the brand of “Expect more, pay less” possible. It’s all about connecting with our customers, and we call our customers guests because we are there to help them with anything they need, giving them the feeling of teamwork and community. They put an emphasis on development, and every 18 months you get considered for promotion. Upper management is always making sure everyone is developing their skillset and they provide you with the resources to develop within Target if you need them. They will do everything they can to improve and move up in the store. I feel like this is shown through how quick I went to become an employee.
What was the highlight of your internship experience?
At the end they had this operational review, where the team led interviews for a full time job. So 6 weeks later, I had learned so much and was able to explain how I made an impact at Target. I was running the store and doing many other tasks - they truly give you the ownership and ability to lead 70 people at the time. I got the full time job and an informal offer so I expect I will be hired as executive team lead, will go through 6 weeks of business college, then I will be placed within a specific team, which has yet to be determined.
Is there anything you wish your internship program could have improved on?
They were so adaptable to the point where they let me intern for 6 weeks and were accommodating with my school schedule. My supervisors and coworkers were extremely helpful and the overall experience was really rewarding, so I couldn’t have asked for a much better experience.
How does this internship help you in your future?
It’s nice to know you have a job lined up after graduation and have leadership experience. It will help me in the future since I’ve had the leadership experience and the experience managing a team, learning how to adapt. Its very rewarding to adapt to various situations without direction and come out successful.
If you could give advice to a student seeking a similar prestigious internship, what would you tell them?
I would say to trust yourself, and even if you don’t feel like you have the qualifications, make sure you ask questions, and make sure you put yourself out there (even if it’s not related to your work). If you want it, just go out there and take a chance. You never know what will happen.