Sunday, February 11, 2007

Trip to Target, Day 2

The Target Building

It has taken me forever to write about my second day at Target (school has been crazy) but i've finally sit down to do it. My second day at target was spent shadowing Michael Francis, the Executive Vice President of Marketing. I was extremely excited/nervous to meet him, as I had heard a lot of great things about him from other Target employees and I really respect the direction he has given to Target's marketing and advertising strategy.

I met with Michael at 8:30am and the day was non-stop from that moment on. We first had a meeting with Karen Gershman, the VP of Marketing Planning, where the two discussed upcoming promotions, licensing deals, and TV spots (I got to see one of Target's future commercials!). Michael and Karen had just recently returned from the Golden Globe awards so they filled me in on that and we discussed the premiere of their "Goodbuy, Hello" commercial (they found the voice for that commercial on Youtube).

After that we headed into another meeting with all the VP's of Marketing at Target and representatives from Wieden+Kennedy, a company that does some of Target's advertising. The two hour meeting discussed strategy and future goals for the company. After the meeting, the VP's of Marketing took me to lunch where we talked a little bit about everything including Target, family, and how I ended up in Minneapolis for this opportunity. After lunch Michael and I had another meeting, this time with the head of the Target Foundation (the part of Target that donates to the community). She and Michael discussed upcoming donations and events Target would be sponsoring.
By the end of the day, I had learned several things about Target. The first was what it takes to be the Exec. VP of Marketing at such a successful corporation. Michael Francis was extremely energetic throughout the day (this could be due to the 4+ cups of coffee he consumed while we were together), friendly and outgoing, and was able to make extremely important decisions in a quick manner. I also learned what challenges Target faces in such a competetive market, both with competitors and with itself; in attempting to stay true to the culture of the organization while simultaneously exceeding itself.

Since Michael and I parted at around 1:30pm, I decided to put the rest of the day to good use and headed to the Mall of America. Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed by its size. The mall boasts 3 floors, a carnival/amusement park in its center, a full-sized aquarium and basically anything else you could ever imagine. I spent entirely too much time there but it was worth it! I headed back to the hotel on the "lightrail" and turned in.

This sign was posted on a cabin by the themepark inside the Mall of America.

The next morning, I woke up and took a taxi to meet with the University of Michigan Alumni Association of Minnesota. I sat through their meeting where they discussed upcoming events for Alums in the area and what activities they were going to partake in with the alternative spring break group that would be arriving in late February. It was great to meet with the Alums (some of whom worked at Target). After that I headed to the airport where I waved goodbye to Minneapolis, Target, and an experience I won't soon forget.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Trip to Target

Glass Target logo in the South Lobby.

It's been a few days since I got back from Minneapolis and looking back on the trip, i'm extremely excited that I was able to participate in such a unique experience. Without further delay, here's the play-by-play of my first day in Minneapolis:

Thursday: my flight got in around 9 and I caught a shuttle to the Hilton, where I stayed on the executive floor in a great room with the most amazing bed. Ever. At 11:30, I met Reba's assistant Brita who chatted with me until Reba came down. Target is very involved in the arts and their HQ is filled with unique pieces either commissioned specifically for them or donated bought by the President of the company. Reba gave me a tour of some of the pieces which was great, as she and I are both really interested in art.

This piece had Spot painted in white and all the red you see there are actually Swarovski crystals which have been hand placed on the work.

We then had lunch at Dakota, a restaurant in the lobby of the North Tower. We spent an hour talking about her various positions within the company (when she signed up to be a part of the Michigan Apprentice she held a different position than she does now), how she got into the retail industry, her kids, my aspirations, and everything in between. She was incredibly nice and easy to get along with and i'll definitely be keeping in touch with her in the future.

Next, I met with Renee, a Product Manager in the Target Sourcing Services (TSS) department. We went down to the Target store (there was an actual Target store within the Nicollet Mall, where the Target HQ is) and she showed me the See.Spot.Save display in the front of the store. This is the place where items are sold for $1.00 or $2.50, organized in bins. Renee explained the process of picking which items should be sold in each bin, the process of choosing vendors, and the complications that arise in shipping, ordering, and estimating demand. Renee then took me to her office where she showed me the process of creating artwork for the sold items.

Next I met with Shannon (who also works in TSS) for a product review meeting with a vendor. The vendor displayed the items for a future See.Spot.Save display and Shannon evaluated each on their packaging, size, labels and other aesthetic qualities. She suggested changes for the products, and the vendors are expected to follow through with those so that the line can be presented to the buyer in TSS.

My last meeting of the day was a cross functional team meeting with Caroline where we discussed the production of a new toy for Target, going over the sizing and appearance of the product.

It was a long day and I was exhaused from the travelling and busy day of meetings but I forced myself to do something that night. I knew Minneapolis was known for its art scene so I took a trip to the Walker, a museum of modern art. Ironically, when I got there I found out I didn't have to pay for admission because Thursday nights are sponsored by Target. I learned later on in the trip that Target sponsors hundreds of free admission nights to museums across the country, and I remembered I had taken advantage of the free admission to the MoMA in NYC the last time I visited my sister.

This is a pic of the Minneapolis skyline as taken from within the Walker (through glass windows)... thats my outline in the middle.

Needless to say, it was a great day. I had little knowledge of what working in the retail industry entailed but I had a good understanding of what it was all about by the end of the day. More on my second day at Target and the Target culture in my next post!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Leaving On a Jet Plane, Will Write Later.

I'm packing up and heading out from the hotel in just a few minutes. My trip was amazing, got to meet some really great people and learn a lot about Target and Minneapolis. Stay tuned, i'll be posting the day-by-day events soon!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Night Before My Trip!

So it's 12:30am the night before my trip and i'm extremely excited/nervous for my day(s) at Target! My flight is really early in the morning, i'll be at the airport at 5:30am. I get in to Minneapolis at 9ish, and i'll be meeting with Reba Dominski, the director of merchandise planning for intimate apparel, hosiery, performance bodywear, jewelry, accessories and shoes at Target. Friday i'll be meeting with Michael Francis, the executive VP of Marketing at Target.

I'll be honest, meeting such prestigious people within the company is kind of intimidating, but everyone i've spoken to has been extremely nice and welcoming so i'm definitely looking forward to the experience. I know Kathleen at the Alumni Association has done a lot of planning to get this all together and i'm extremely grateful for the organizing, I know it'll be an amazing trip because of it.

I'm off to finish packing and get a few hours of sleep before my big day. Until then, i'll be skimming over my Marketing book and looking forward to these next few days!

Monday, January 1, 2007

So... I'm a Michigan Apprentice?

I found out about the Michigan Apprentice a few different ways. The first exposure to the program was through the Michigan Daily- I tore out the ad from the newspaper to remind myself to apply. A few days later, I received a forwarded e-mail about the Michigan Apprentice (MA) from a friend who said that when she read about this opportunity, my name came to mind.

And thus the application process began. After the entries were reviewed by the alumni association and the alums who volunteered to participate in the program, the finalists were announced. I was so excited to have been selected as a finalists but knew that an interview and campaigning for online votes lay ahead of me. The interview went very well, mainly because Kathleen and Kathy at the Alumni Association were so easy to talk to. After harassing my friends and their friends to vote online, the winners were finally announced.

When I opened the e-mail announcing the winners, I was so excited I ran into one of my housemates' rooms and jumped on her bed, waking her up. After she mumbled a semi-coherent "congratulations" I got off her bed and made the obligatory phone calls. Needless to say, I was excited about the opportunity to travel to Minneapolis to spend the day with the VP of Marketing and a Buyer for Target's hosiery and accessories department.

Now that you know a little about how I got here, here's a little bit about who I am:

I'm a junior at the U, double majoring in Psychology and Communication Studies with an interest in pursuing marketing/advertising in the future. What draws me to the field is the creativity it demands and the ever-changing nature of the industry. Advertising has a huge effect on its audience, and I'd like to be a part of that sometime soon. Aside from my academic interests, i'm a big fan of photography, my friends and family, humor, cooking, coffee, being crazy with my housemates, and loving living in Ann Arbor.

The next step in the MA experience will be planning the trip to Minneapolis, and I couldn't be more excited! Stay tuned for details on the trip!