October 17 2022

Step Up interns Zuhur and Nura impact two Target back-to-school seasons

Step Up interns with Target team members and dog mascot sculpture at corporate headquarters

This past June, Step Up high school interns Zuhur Hashi and Nura Bile walked into Target Corporate Headquarters with a goal of learning and making connections. When they walked out in August, they both had played a role in shaping the retailer’s future.

“Zuhur took on a high-profile project that will actually make a financial impact for our large 2023 back-to-school season,” said Mona Parmar, Zuhur’s supervisor on the Target item quality team. “She leaned into our growth in a really impressive way. She showed up as a nervous student who was willing to engage and lean in and emerged as a confident business professional.”

Nura’s supervisor Krisandra Shimpa also had praise for Nura’s success in Target’s site merchandising operations and her work on the company’s back-to-school campaign for 2023. “Nura took on a leadership role among her peers. She led and facilitated weekly meetings that pushed the group to stay on track for their big deliverable to the digital leadership team. And she demonstrated a growth mindset by leaning into new spaces and being brave by jumping in and focusing on learning.”

This is the power of a Step Up internship – and Zuhur and Nura both say that having the opportunity for these kinds of internships that helped them learn, grow and define a career path was life changing.

Zuhur’s money-saving discovery

With five Step Up internship experiences now documented on her Linkedin page, Zuhur – who is now in her first year at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities – is clear about their value. “Through my internships I was able to try different things in high school instead of later in life, so now I can focus on what I really want to do.”

Following an earlier Step Up internship at the University of Minnesota medical school, Zuhur was leaning towards a career in healthcare. However, she was still unsure. Feeling a bit lost, she went in search of other options and started to watch videos on data science. The next step was her Step Up Target internship, where she got to analyze data.  

For her Target back-to-school project, Zuhur focused on item packaging dimensions for online orders. “I discovered that dimension reports from packaging vendors were sometimes different from what Target had anticipated, so items were being placed in boxes that were too big or too small. As a result, items were damaged in shipping,” she says. “I also realized that lunch boxes and backpacks were being packaged differently, depending on the product vendor and the way they placed the straps. The solution was to provide easy-to-read diagrams for all vendors to follow. The outcome is now better packaging and less damage to back-to-school orders in 2022.”

Nura’s marketing campaign leadership

While Zuhur was focusing on fall 2022, Nura was helping Target prepare for 2023, leading fellow interns on the creation of a PowerPoint presentation focused on back-to-school and back to college marketing campaigns.

“I designed the PowerPoint template for the project and managed the creation of the presentation and digital project timeline,” says Nura. “I also facilitated our Zoom calls and checked in with everyone to see if they had questions and find out about the status of their pieces of the project. Then, I sent a recap email to everyone.” Nura’s supervisor Krisandra says that “Nura’s development and growth over the summer was inspiring.”

What’s next for these dynamic young women?

Zuhur is looking at a major in data science as a springboard to possible graduate work to become a physician’s assistant. “From my Step Up internship at the university I learned that I don’t need a medical-focused bachelor’s degree to become a physician’s assistant. And at Target, my mentors assured me that my career won’t be defined by what major I choose. Knowing that I can change fields along the way is taking the pressure off and makes me realize I can major in data science. And then if I decide I don’t want to be a data scientist, I can go to graduate school to become a physician’s assistant.”

Nura’s earlier Step Up technology-focused internship at Accenture combined with her merchandizing operations experience at Target are helping her define a future career. Now in her senior year at Higher Ground Secondary Academy, she has started applying to colleges and plans to major in computer science or cyber security. She says both internships prepared her for these careers.

“I brought Microsoft technical skills to Target and then I learned new skills,” says Nura. “I learned leadership, public speaking and technical skills. My amazing mentors were helpful and resourceful, and they gave me time for daily prayer within my Muslim faith.” Nura is also looking forward to participating in one more Step Up internship next summer after high school graduation.

Zuhur and Nura are grateful for their Step Up internships – and Achieve Twin Cities is grateful to Target for providing such challenging and supportive internship experiences for these young people as a valued Step Up partner!