Calderon: How to Know if Target is for you

Staff Writer Mya Calderon shares her experience being an employee at Target. - Graphic / Julia Quennessen

After moving to New Jersey from Minnesota, the first thing on my mind was getting a job. With the Deptford Mall being a 15-minute drive, it was easy to find one – but a job that paid well above minimum wage was a little harder. 

Although I was living rent-free with my grandparents, I still had to cover my own school expenses. The first job I got after moving was Charlotte Russe. At the time, they were only paying somewhere around $8.74 per hour which meant I needed a second job. I got hired at American Eagle which paid $9.50 per hour.

Both jobs had their issues at times. One person peed in the fitting room at Charlotte Russe and, on one of my off days, a man ran around the fitting room naked. The management at American Eagle needed work. I was told I was in the “doghouse” after I said no to coming in early. After that incident, I was taken off the schedule for two weeks. Eventually, I quit both jobs at the mall and only worked at Sam’s Club.

In the beginning, Sam’s Club didn’t seem bad. Soon I began to realize I was the only person getting paid $12 an hour. Most of the people who were constantly calling out were at least making $14 an hour. When I asked the manager about a raise, he told me had no control over wages and that the computer decided who got how much. He also made a comment on how “Black women are the worst” because they’re always hitting their scalp and hate having their hair touched.

Soon I began having issues with my schedule. When the next semester would come around, I would put in my availability which would constantly get denied, even though they knew I was in college. I even had to take time off for my wisdom teeth surgery, which was also denied, resulting in me calling out multiple days in a row. I knew I needed to find a new place, so I began searching and finally got an interview at Target.

Most people I know complain that it’s hard to get a job at Target. It took me two interviews that were each an hour long and giving up Sundays off – they told me I was not allowed to have off even for religious reasons, for me to get the position as a “Checkout Advocate.” I felt lucky, but two years later I wish I had found something else. Here’s how to know if Target is right for you,  or at least the one I work at.

  1. You don’t mind a little action.

If you’re looking to have people threaten to kill you, potentially get hit by cars while doing drive-up or don’t mind being told someone should slap you, apply immediately. Don’t worry, the management won’t do anything to support you. They might even give the guest a $20 gift card for the inconvenience because Target is all about making it right for the guests before anything else. 

Everyone is trained to empathize with the guest no matter the situation. For example, when a woman threatened to “crack my neck” she was still allowed to place drive-up or pick-up orders if she used a different name. A person told an employee over the phone that they’d be “looking for them” the next time they were in the store. Who knew Target could be so thrilling?

  1. You don’t “take it to the streets.”

As my supervisor explained to me, we’re all human and stuff get to us, but we’re not allowed to “take it to the streets.” This was said after a white woman had felt “threatened” by one of my Black co-workers. She also mentioned it to me after a woman made a racist comment towards me over the phone, saying that I didn’t “sound like a Marie” after I gave her my middle name instead of my first after feeling uncomfortable. I took it to the streets by immediately hanging up the phone as the woman screamed at me through the phone over a $14 plate set that we had before Thanksgiving. I was later talked to and asked what “triggers” me and why I seem to have issues controlling my emotions. Racism and being threatened was not an adequate answer. Management and human resources at Target are excellent 

  1. You’re a young white man.

Do you make your co-workers uncomfortable at work? Not a problem. You want Sundays off? That’s fine. Only if you’re a white man. Target caters to young, white men without any hesitation. After more than five verbal complaints about a white man who texted a co-worker more than 50 times in one day and drove to look for another co-worker’s house at night, he’s still working there. He also keeps track of what car everyone drives. No worries though, he’s gay, which makes it harmless. 

If you happen to be a Black man and hit on women, you’ll be fired within a few weeks. Feeling sick? If you’re a white man, they’ll try to make your shift easier for you and might even suggest that you should go home. If you’re a Black woman, they’ll ask if you’re joking. Want to move to a different department? No problem. Unless you’re a Black woman, then there’s not enough people at the current department you’re in, even if you’ve been asking for months. Did I mention the raises? White men, you could be looking at a 17-cent increase within your first six months even if you’ve frequently called out. For Black women, you might get a nickel. My raises in total for the past two years came out to 13 cents – my first eight-cent raise was taken away after our pay increased to $15 an hour though.

Working at Target isn’t all bad – it wouldn’t be fair for me to say that it is. Not every guest that has walked through the door has threatened me and every day I’m not reminded to not “take things to the streets” but I do pause when people ask me if I like it there, and hey, I’m still working here. In the end, all jobs have their problems whether that be poor management, catty coworkers or dealing with horrendous people. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you about Target. 

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