Marx Is on Target at Target

by Laura Merrill, Manager of Cooperative Education

Susan Marx (’03 Finance) works for Target Stores as executive team leader for human relations. She’s earning more than $35,000 after little more than one year with the company.

Morale: don’t think the retail industry doesn’t have a lot to offer college grads.

Landing the Job
It took hard work in school, mixed with lots of fun. Susan, who came to U of L from Wisconsin and graduated with a 3.1 GPA, seized opportunities to take a leadership role in student activities and on the job. During her sophomore and junior years (1999-2001), Susan was a Louisville Lady, assisting with recruiting efforts for the U of L football team. This experience, as well as high school and college scholarships, helped her pay for college, and it also helped her learn the value of hard work.

Susan took an active role in extra-curricular activities during her junior and senior years, serving in leadership roles in five separate student organizations and serving as a student representative on various other boards and committees. Among those organizations in which Susan honed her leadership skills were the College of Business Student Council (senator and president); the Student Organization for Alumni Relations (president); and the U of L Athletic Department (football videographer).

Susan took on these roles even while carrying 18 hours per semester her junior year and 15 hours per semester her senior year.

Though co-ops are not required for finance majors, Susan wisely chose to do two internships. First she went to Clearwater, Fla.., and worked for the Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation, tutoring and providing mentoring support for at-risk youth, and doing research for the Foundation. For this internship, sponsored by the U of L Alumni Association, Susan earned $1,500 over six weeks. (Susan landed this position because of her involvement in the Alumni Association and other activities on campus.)

Many students would stop with one internship, especially when they’re not earning course credit. Not Susan. In 2001, she interned at Merrill Lynch, doing financial analysis of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Susan believes it was her strong work ethic that made Merrill Lynch want to hire her—a work ethic she developed in her role as a Louisville Lady.

What’s Attractive About a Career in Retail?
According to Dawn Towe, regional campus recruiter for Target Stores, “[Susan] was not necessarily interested in retail, but she was willing to look into it. She was very engaged and was interested in finding out what she needed to know to be sure this was what she wanted.”

Target looks for resilience in its prospective employees, something Susan has, according to Towe, “No day is ever the same in retail. We need someone who is able to come in every day and adapt to the environment. If you want to work somewhere where every day is the same, you don’t want to work for Target.”

And what about the retail industry—and Target in particular—attracted Susan? The hours are not as bad as many think. While there are long work weeks, especially during the holidays, most weeks an executive team leader works about 45-50 hours. Another plus: You get promoted quickly. When you’re hired, you start out with Business College, Target’s eight-week management trainee program. From there you move right into an executive team leader position and within 3-5 years, depending on your performance and on openings available, you can become a store manager, earning over $100,000 a year.

Susan completed her management-trainee program in Louisville at the Jefferson Pavillion Target. Next, she went to Clarkville, Ind., serving as executive team leader of guest relations. Finally, Susan transferred to Evansville, Ind., and is now working as executive team leader for team relations. Her favorite thing about the job: Knowing that she makes a difference in her team members’ lives. Company perks are also nice. Target team members are eligible for store discounts, health insurance, and dental insurance. Executive team leaders and other management-level employees also are eligible for a year-end bonus, based on their performance and the performance of the store in which they work.

Susan’s internship experiences and her involvement in student activities were important components that played out in the Target interviews. They demonstrated her competence in taking on a variety of tasks, just as is required when working for Target Stores. Of extra-curricular activities, Towe says, “When looking at leadership for college students, we want to see involvement in student activities.”

Fortunately, at U of L there are plenty opportunities for extra-curricular involvement. Susan says U of L gave her many opportunities. “From day one U of L let me, like every other student, take advantage of the many extra-curricular activities that they have. For me, participating in one activity led me to join another, and as a new college student I was already very involved. All of the activities that I participated in gave me leadership opportunities and the chance to have an excellent college experience. I am extremely lucky to have had all of the wonderful experiences that U of L offered me. The experiences that I had at U of L helped to shape who I am today.”

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