Target’s Debt-Free Education Benefit is Helping Team Members Turn Higher Learning into New Careers

September 29, 2022 - Article reads in
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Computer, bullseye and certificate icons on a red, pink and orange background.

Last fall, Target introduced a new debt-free education assistance benefit, Dream to Be, giving team members access to tuition-free undergraduate and associates degrees, certificates and bootcamp programs — both online and in-person — from over 40 schools, colleges and universities through our partner Guild. And one year later, there’s a lot to celebrate: More than 75,000 team members have expressed interest and opened accounts with Guild since September 2021.

The inspiration behind the program? To find even more meaningful ways to continue to support and empower our team members, to help create a more equitable and inclusive workforce and to open career paths for all. Our talented team is at the very heart of Target’s strategy, and we have a long history of investing in industry-leading pay, extensive benefits, education assistance and career opportunities to help them have rewarding careers. Our $200 million investment in Dream to Be over four years will help ensure all team members have the opportunity to grow their skills and build their careers.

Five team member headshots in round frames on a red, pink and orange background.To celebrate Dream to Be’s first year, we caught up with Target team members Shane Taylor, Arlene Haskins, Sara Oros, Robel Gebremeskel and Sara Gregg (pictured above from top left to right). Each participated in coding and web development bootcamps through Dream to Be, which in turn helped them earn spots in Target’s Emerging Engineers Program. And each ultimately transitioned from our stores team to full-time engineering roles at Target. (While we’re sharing their engineering success journeys below, know that the Dream to Be program is broad, supporting team members in career paths like business, communications and design, to name a few, too.)

The start of something new

Team members have come across Dream to Be in a variety of ways, from coworker referrals to a poster tacked on an office bulletin board. However the inspiration strikes, giving all team members easy and affordable ways to learn, grow and build their skills fits right in with our Target values.

Dream to Be alumnus Arlene Haskins shares that debt-free education assistance piqued her interest as soon as she saw the information in her onboarding materials. “I was looking for ways to advance myself,” says Arlene. “I had friends in coding and web development who encouraged me to check it out, so I decided to find a way to get a certificate or a degree.”

Taking the next step

Arlene ultimately decided to enroll in a six-month web development bootcamp. For her and team members like Sara Oros (who also went through an engineering bootcamp), having support from their Target teams was a big help in balancing work with a rigorous course of study. “I'm so grateful for my team leads,” says Sara. “They would ask me how is school going and how my assignments are and towards the end they gave me a big hug and said they were proud of me. They knew that this was such a big deal."

Team members completing coursework through Dream to Be also have access to a suite of resources, including teaching assistants, tutors and coaches, so help is never far away. “The TAs and instructors were always available to answer questions and my tutor was fantastic — I could send an email if I had a question or got stuck,” says data analytics bootcamp graduate Sara Gregg. Engineering bootcamp graduate Robel Gebremeskel also took advantage of productivity tools that were available to help students prioritize and work more efficiently. “The bootcamp really had a lot of resources, even with things like time management,” says Robel.

After building a strong engineering foundation in their Dream to Be bootcamps, Arlene, Robel, Sara Gregg, Sara Oros and Shane each landed a spot in Target’s Emerging Engineers Program. It’s a year-long training program that provides onboarding and ongoing classroom instruction for newly minted engineers, and upon completion, engineers are equipped with a strong foundation to continue in their full-time engineering roles.

Turning new skills into new careers

Dream to Be not only helps team members further their careers but can also help teams across Target find the right people, too. For example, the Target tech team worked with human resources and partners at Guild to identify programs within the network that are helping team members gain the skills they’d need for a tech role. Eligible team members were contacted with information about the Emerging Engineers Program and given support and mentorship once they decided to apply. Shane shares: “My mentor was a lead engineer at Target who helped me a ton, especially with the behavioral and peer-programming interviews.” 

And the months of preparation paid off: All five team members officially started in the program earlier this month.

“You don’t have anything to lose bet on yourself.”

Looking back on his Dream to Be and Emerging Engineers experience, Shane has a few words of wisdom for team members interested in an education program. “If you’re considering it, you should just do it — it exposes you to more choices in your potential career path.” 

These team members’ stories are shining examples of how Target’s robust education offerings and career programs like the Emerging Engineers Program help team members build solid foundations and contribute to the business in new and exciting ways.

Together with our industry-leading pay and benefits, Target's commitment to helping team members thrive is clear. And as for the future? Sara Oros is excited to keep her knowledge growing. “I’m just ready to learn more and take things to the next level,” says Sara.

“I think the biggest takeaway is, anything I put my heart and mind to I can do.”

Chase your dreams at Target

Feeling ready to hit the books? All U.S.-based part-time and full-time Target team members are eligible for debt-free education assistance for select undergraduate degrees, certificates, bootcamps and more. Head to targetpayandbenefits.com to learn how the benefit works and to get started. And if you’re interested in joining Team Target and looking to take advantage of this great program, check out our careers site for more details.

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