18 Jul “The Intern”
-Who is Harold James Jr?
I’m from Mobile, AL. I am the eldest of five, and I am 21 years old. I am the first person to go to college from my family. I was raised in a single parent household. I graduated from the honors program at Alabama A&M, where I earned a degree in finance. While in college, I was the Keeper of Records for the Gamma Phi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. I was also a fellow for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and a part of an 18 month career program called Management Leadership for Tomorrow. The program provides minority students with career planning, networking, mentors, and information on obtaining an MBA. Some people call it MLT; you start your sophomore year, and stay in it throughout your senior year. We have corporate mentors from fortune 500 companies, we attend seminars, have great networking opportunities and its all done during a 18-month program that grooms students for corporate America. The program creates a roadmap for success that helps every step of the way. Students are exposed to competitive internships, resume building and much more. I graduated a semester early due to scholarships that I received to go to school over the summer. I was also a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Changing Lanes mentoring program thru the honors college.
-Talk to us more about your experiences interning for Target.
Target was my first internships that was this competitive. They probably had 100-business analyst, roughly 100 software engineers, but only 8 marketing and 13 financial roles. I was the only black male in Finance. It didn’t feel like an internship for us because Target will actually use everything we worked on and implement it. From day 1, expectations were set. Most individuals had one project, due to my manager’s high expectations I had three. Our program in particular was a part of the FADP Finance and Accounting Development Program.
With the FADP program, work was very structured, there was no coffee grabbing at all. It was very structured and a true value add for all of the interns. Because finance is so small, it was only 1 finance person on each team. I was on the Expense Management Team and my department was HQ Finance. I primarily focused on Selling General and Administrative Expenses such as airfare expenses, lodging expenses, meals expenses, community contributions, and consulting expenses, and many others. My task was to create ways to provide better visibility of expenses and create a system of accountability of expenses. We covered all expenses not related to sales.
-Whats your personal outtake on internships?
Just being a black male, internships or needed. All jobs ask about your experiences, and internships are a great way to get those entry-level experiences. I’ve interned at a commercial real estate office, a government lending office, and most recently the corporate position at Target. Each position had a different scope. All of them were intense, so I was able to figure out what my strengths and weaknesses were. I was also able to see what I wanted to do as in my likes and dislike.
Where most will struggle the first few months of their jobs, I think individuals who have had a good internship will already have went thru the needed learning curve.
-Any advice for young Black males?
The key is being receptive to developmental feedback as they call it in corporate (criticism). Being hungry and understanding what feedback is valid, and knowing what to do with the information. Don’t get caught up in people just talking just to talk. Never be afraid, and always put yourself out. Be a man of integrity, honesty, and always authentic and obviously, grades are always important. The same people that tell me what I was doing yesterday are asking me for help today. It’s never too early; I got my first intern in high school.
Idk, what’s next for me, this weekend, I am attending a conference in Minneapolis with MLT. They have prepared a weekend of interviews with us for different fortune 500 companies (tech, retail, agriculture and banking industries mostly). I will be applying with a number of companies looking for my best fit.
This article was written by Justin Sims, (IAMMRMENTOR), In hopes of not only inspiring entrepreneurs, but young black males to be the best and the truest version of themselves.
If you like this article and find yourself interested in more positive stories about black millennial age males, please visit WWW.IAMMRMENTOR.CO and follow him on his social media pages IAMMRMENTOR on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.