It’s opening day at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest technical conference for women. More than 15,000 female technologists are getting ready to spend the next three days networking, sharing ideas, exploring a career fair and attending a lineup of speakers and presentations. Among the attendees? Several women from Target’s technology teams (pictured above), representing roles in computing, engineering and science across our business. For the third year in a row, Target is a diamond sponsor of the conference.
As Grace Hopper kicks off, meet five of our team members attending the conference and hear about their work and their stories.
Lead Software Engineer
First got interested in coding: In grade school, around the time the first IBM Personal Computer (PC) was introduced. “I saw it in a magazine, and dreamed that someday I would work in a job related to computers. But back then, computer science wasn’t well known or understood, and I didn’t own a PC—I used labs most nights and weekends." Through perseverance, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer and information science at Far Eastern University. At 19, she became one of the first female interns at IBM Philippines.
Her Target gig: A six-year team member, Joana’s led major projects in the areas of distribution, transportation, merchandising, health care and point-of-sale operations. She was the first female overarching engineering consultant on Target’s supply chain support services team. These days, she’s leading a team of newly hired engineers focused on modernizing supply chain forecasting.
Why join the Target team? “Target provides equal opportunities for female technologists. There are trainings, support groups, and resources to grow your skills. And there’s flexibility so moms like me don’t miss any of my girls’ important milestones.”
At Grace Hopper, she’s most looking forward to: Meeting and learning from others' journeys. “Being a part of this event is an honor—it’s so empowering to be in a place full of talented women in technology from across the country.”
Technology Leadership Program Trainee
First got interested in coding: As a computer science major at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. “I planned on studying accounting but ended up falling in love with computer science because of the rapid growth of technology in my generation.”
Her Target gig: “I started as an intern, and I’ve now been a full-time team member for just over two years. I’m currently on the RAPID: Cloud & Automation Services team, which enables other teams to provide new application releases to our guests as fast as possible. It’s my second rotation through Target’s Technology Leadership Program, which lets Target technologists rotate through different information technology roles, learning about a variety of applications, platforms and environments.”
On facing challenges head-on: “Once during a group programming session, I got to lead a meeting focused on technology I’ve never worked with before. My entire team gave me step-by-step directions to complete the project. This intimidating, hands-on training turned out to be a great experience because it challenged me in ways I haven’t been before.”
Why join the Target team? “The amazing, genuine people make work fun and enjoyable. They truly care about both your career and personal development. And there are endless opportunities to work on cool projects for the company.”
At Grace Hopper, she’s most looking forward to: Meeting talented women at the career fair. “I can’t wait to connect with technologists in all different stages of their careers who might be great additions to the Target team.”
Maria Elisa Laborte
Lead Engineer, Platform Engineering
First got interested in coding: As a math student turned computer science major. “We were given certain scenarios or problems and had to formulate logic to solve them, eventually programming or coding them using Cobol, Pascal or C++. At that time, these were the programming languages! Coding is fun and there’s this feeling of fulfillment when your program starts working.”
Her Target gig: Working on capacity planning and managing data integration solutions for multiple critical systems that need near real-time integration. Her team processes a large volume of data for things like order management systems, Target's supply chain, and lots more. “I joined the Target team five years ago, and it gave me an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone as a developer and work on the infrastructure side of the business.”
On the power of teamwork: “Once when we were having problems with a platform, my Target teammates and partners came together to migrate the tool, code, database and storage to new servers—all in one weekend! Everyone worked well together and accomplished a lot in such a short time.”
Why join the Target team? “Coming from a development background and relocating to a new state was tough, but my team supported me and patiently explained things I didn’t understand. There are also opportunities for growth and different technologies to use that make Target a fun place to work.”
At Grace Hopper, she’s most looking forward to: “Being a part of this gathering where almost all of the attendees are women. I can’t wait to chat with other technologists about the work we’re doing, share stories of successes and failures, and learn how different teams work together.”
First got interested coding: “I took my first C++ class as a high school freshman, but hated it. Glad I gave it another chance in graduate school, because something ‘clicked’ that second time around and I loved it, to the point that I made it my main field of study.”
Her Target gig: “I’ve been with Target for more than 10 years and have played tech lead and architect roles in different business areas. Right now, I’m working on our next generation of supply chain systems, focusing on replenishment. I define system architecture, as well as work on design and coding with my team.”
Favorite project: “My work on point-of-sale is close to my heart, because I still see the results every time I shop Target and use the checkout system. I designed a control module that drives the workflow on the credit card device guests use to pay. I’ll never forget how proud and excited I was the first time I swiped a credit card through the device controlled by my module.”
Why join the Target team? “I like to explore new things and Target provides a good environment for that. As a software engineer, it is crucial to keep our skills fresh. Target values continuous learning and provides the tools to get the job done.”
At Grace Hopper, she’s most looking forward to: Spending three fun days with her Target colleagues and meeting lots of new talent. “I can’t wait to exchange ideas and share my journey with other talented females.”
First got interested in coding: After exploring a string of other interests including seismology and journalism. “I emailed a man starting up a TEDx event in my hometown, and we crafted a summer internship. Through that, I got to meet so many incredible, accomplished people, and then it clicked: The common thread was technology. And from then on, I knew that’s all I wanted to do.”
Her Target gig: “I’m currently working on the Application Programming Interface (API) Developer Portal, an Angular-based user interface containing Target API and endpoint documentation, and self-service for API keys and access tokens. Target developers and vendors use this tool for both internal and guest-facing applications.”
Favorite memories: Day-to-day experiences through the Target Leadership Program … “even the silly ones. I’ve gone golfing with the team (I was horrible) and been in a cribbage tournament (less horrible). I ran a drone contest and did hackathons. I even became a FIRST Lego League coach to encourage elementary girls interested in tech.”
Why join the Target team? Opportunities for mentorship. “My confidence, successes, and incredible opportunities like Grace Hopper—I have mentorship to thank for a lot of that. The culture at work is extremely enabling, from both my male and female counterparts.”
At Grace Hopper, she’s most looking forward to: Talking with women who may be in a similar place she was a year or two ago. “There’s so much happening in this field! There’s nothing better than girls empowering girls. We are all role models to each other.”
At Target, we’re always looking to hire talented team members to help us transform our guest experience across all channels. Interested in joining our team? Check out available technology roles. Attending the Grace Hopper conference this week? Stop by and visit our team at Booth 2521.
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