Search for a clip-on tie leads to a job coach at Target

Searching for a clip-on tie for a job interview, a young man encountered a mentoring moment with a Target staff member.

Screenshot from news reports

Some days it takes a village full of instant mentors, in the form of Target staff members, to help a nervous teenager get ready for his first job interview. 

When a teen in Wake County, outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, went to a local Target Wednesday to buy a clip-on tie for his interview at a nearby Chick-fil-A, he got both a tie and an impromptu team of coaches to prep him for the experience.

Apparently, the store was out of clip-on ties and Target Employee Cathy Scott and another employee named Cynthia, went the extra mile of locating a fellow employee, Dennis Roberts, and asking him to help teach the boy how to tie a traditional tie.

“Dennis is a relatively new employee here at this location, but he has worked at Target before,” says store manager R.J. Jesso in a phone interview. “At every orientation for new employees I ask the same question, ‘Who is the most important person in the store’ and Dennis answered, ‘The customer.’ That’s the right answer. The guest is the most important person in the store.”

According to Mr. Jesso, part of his store’s culture is to celebrate the moments in which an employee does a little something beyond their job responsibilities to help a “guest” at the store.

Shopper, Audrey Mark told local news station WTVD, “I see this young teen being hovered over by this Target employee. So, as a mom of three teens, I go to 'what did he do?'”

Then Ms. Mark watched as Mr. Roberts adjusted the young job-seeker’s newly tied interview-appropriate neckwear and then go on to educate him on how to perform a professional handshake for the interview.

She snapped a picture and posted it to her Facebook wall stating: “In Target at Triangle Town Center. A kid came in looking for a clip-on tie for a job interview this afternoon. The store only had regular ties, so this awesome Target team member took the time to help the nervous teen put on his new tie, tuck in his shirt and then showed him how to give a proper handshake and tackle a few tough interview questions! As the kid exited the store, a bunch of supportive Target team members cheered him on! THIS is true customer service - Right on the mark, Target!! Fingers crossed for this kid'z interview!! Bought headbands, ham and had my heart warmed...I LOVE Target!!!”

Mark is right, what happened at this Target goes far beyond customer service and into the realm of mentoring.

While many of us lead crazy-busy lives, it takes only a moment to become a mentor to a child, young adult – even our own kids. About the same amount of time it took Roberts to tie the young man’s tie and share some advice.

While there is a tremendous need for those able to make an ongoing time commitment to become an official mentor, there are many everyday opportunities to mentor others in our community.

“Research tells us that in structured mentoring for young people the longer, more enduring and consistent a mentoring relationship, the more powerful the outcomes,” writes Diane Quest Senior Director, External Affairs for MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership in Boston. 

“But there are certainly stories of powerful mentoring moments that occur organically at all stages of life. This story of a stranger taking an interest in someone and giving them advice and guidance – taking him under his wing for just a minute – is a great example of the how people want to be there for each other and how small acts can have big impact. That’s at the heart of mentoring.”

Target manager Jesso says he is still waiting for word from the managers of the Chick-fil-A where the unknown young man had his interview on how it went.

Asked if the young man would be welcome to interview at his Target, Jesson says, “I’d invite him to come and go through the same process all candidates go through. But frankly, someone that serious about making a good first impression is a good candidate.”

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