What if you could go into your senior year knowing that upon graduation you had a job waiting for you? Well that is exactly how Evan Ewing’14 is walking into his senior year.
After a 10-week summer internship with Target, Ewing secured a job as an executive team leader for a Target store in the Inland Empire.
This business-marketing student explains how he landed the internship, and where he plans to go from here.
How did you hear about the internship with Target?
One of my business communications professors, Howard Gordon, told me to check out the Career Expo. I saw signs for it everywhere, but he pushed me along. He told me to talk to Erin at Target’s booth. I let her know that Professor Gordon told me to come by. She knew him right away, and that started up the conversation. That one little connection led to “Oh let me take your resume.” I had handed my resume to other companies at the expo, but Target seemed to have the best atmosphere; everyone there was so upbeat and excited. So I got an interview.
How did you prepare for your interview?
Once I got the interview, I asked Professor Gordon to give me some tips. He said, “Write a killer cover letter and then follow up.” I think that is one thing that set me apart from the other people; I wrote a cover letter that wasn’t how everyone else does it. I tried to be unique. You have to sell yourself.
I’ve always known the biggest thing when interviewing is to make it a conversation. I was able to relax and have a conversation, and when you can see the interviewer get into that conversational mode, you know it’s going well
What kinds of points did you make in your cover letter?
I didn’t follow the traditional format; I just made it look different. So, when they have this stack of cover letters that look the same, they stop at mine. I had a huge bold heading and a short opening sentence followed by a paragraph. Then I followed up, thanking them for taking my application. After the interview, I sent a thank you. Doing those simple things, I think, is what got me hired.
What was the interview process like? What types of questions did they ask?
Luckily they were pretty open. They told me beforehand what type of questions they would ask, which were mostly situational questions. Then you come up with examples in your life when you’ve had a problem and solved it, or how you demonstrated leadership, etc. So, you generate stories from your life or job or school and you just lock those away, then you can tweak them depending on the question they ask. That’s kind of how I prepared.
What were your responsibilities as a Target intern?
They give interns a ton of responsibilities. I mean, you don’t get keys, but it’s not a “get me coffee and print this newsletter” kind of internship. For the program I was an executive team leader (ETL). Each store has five ETLs that represent different categories such as human resources, soft lines (clothing), hard lines (electronics and sporting goods), logistics (shipping) and assets protection. I represented soft lines. As an executive team leader, my job is to manage not only our category, but also manage the team leaders, which in turn manage the team members. After the third or fourth week in the 10-week program, they just have you run it. Our mentors are there for support but we’re running the show. I’ve learned so much about the corporate environment and what it takes to run a huge business.
What is a typical day like for an executive team leader?
Well, first I come in and open the store; I’m the first one there with the opening team. I open the cash office; get all the funds to the registers; unlock receiving doors, and make sure there are no safety hazards for guests. We also have a third-party cleaning crew, so I have to make sure that they are doing their job. Before the store opens, I would follow up with each team leader to find out what their action plan is for the day and what their workload is, which is largely dependent on what time of year it is. Christmas, back to school, Valentine’s Day, you have to be aware so you can understand how to drive productivity in the store. And the biggest thing we do is walking the floor, which creates that leadership presence. I like to keep a global presence in the store. When you’re running the business, there are different things to overcome every day. Whether the coolers go off or the lights go out, or there is a missing child – I’m responsible for knowing what to do and how to make critical decisions.
What is Target’s company culture like?
The culture is awesome. From paying interns, to the open line of communication, it is a great culture. The company is also very feedback driven, which I like. Every other Friday we have what is called “status.” I have a status with my mentor, who is another executive team leader, or with the store team leader, and we sit down and talk about my strengths and opportunities (areas to improve). It is totally open, and none of it is negative; they really want you to be the best that you can be. If you tell your district manager, “Hey, I want to be a group director in this amount of time,” they will sit down and tell you exactly what you need to do and how to get there. They will do whatever they can to make it happen.
What was the most important thing you learned from your experience?
The biggest thing I learned was leadership. I learned how to be a hands-on leader, working with teams that are real people getting paid real money, and you are in charge of them. I have learned so much about my professional self. There are bad days and great days, but in the end it’s just a great experience.
What is your advice to students looking for an internship?
Professors are one of your greatest resources; go to office hours. I don’t care if you have an A or a D, just talk to them, because they can have resources that you couldn’t get on your own. Also go to the Career Expo. It is a great place to meet local businesses and get your resume out there. And don’t settle for something just because it’s something. So many students just take an internship because they need one, but I want to encourage people to go after what they really want.