Target recently had the pleasure of hosting a group of high school students for a unique job shadow experience at our Minneapolis headquarters this week. Students traveled from several cities for an opportunity to gain insight on a variety of professional careers in technology at Target by observing team members in action and participating in case study activities. Participants included TWIST (Target Women in Science & Technology), EPIC award winners, and students from other sponsored organizations such as MN Aspirations, Technovation MN, FIRST and more.

The event consisted of six shadow team options with experiences ranging from leading an agile team ceremony to hands-on technical coding. The students also participated in a lunch and learn session about software containers, which provided an example of how technical professionals continue to learn new skills.

Nancy King, vice president of technology portfolio solutions and the executive sponsor of TWIST, kicked off the event with an inspirational story of her career path in technology. “I was so proud to see this event brought to life with our first job shadow experience that gave students a glimpse into a day in the life of an engineer. You can’t become what you can’t see, or haven’t been exposed to, and I know these students left with new role models and an inspiration to envision career options they may not have imagined before. I hope to see some of them back as interns in a few years and I can’t wait to host the next event!” Nancy said.

Greg Dosh, a technical coach in the Target Dojo, led a group of students in a hands-on activity using the Python programming language. The students collaborated on the design and implementation, blending programming and math to draw geometric shapes. Through mob programming (one monitor shared so that everyone focuses on the same outcomes), they each contributed code, ideas and approaches to iteratively build an application and see their results instantly. One student commented, “I learned to code last year in class, so it was really cool to see how it is applied in an actual workplace.”

Another job shadow session, hosted by the marketing data foundation team, provided the students an exclusive view into how Target uses marketing data and business intelligence to make fast decisions at scale. Xinran Waibel, a business intelligence engineer, noted that “it was a very meaningful and inspiring experience to host a job shadow session for high school students. We were impressed by their curiosity and are truly glad that they are so eager to learn about software engineering.”

The event was organized by several members of the TWIST organization. TWIST’s mission is to foster connections, inspiration and knowledge-sharing to help women in STEM grow to their full potential. The organization hosts several events each year ranging from internal team member networking to external events and programs such as Science & Tech Day, EPIC Awards, Girl Scouts Day and others with the goal to proactively spark an interest in STEM careers. Follow TWIST on Twitter to learn more and get involved!