Student leader finds success, gives back
Alexia Biafore, a senior business management student set to graduate in May 2013, has a job waiting for her as soon as she's handed that coveted diploma.
Biafore, a native of Bridgeport, W.Va., is WVU's first-ever Target Campus Liaison. In that role, she visits WVU career fairs and college classrooms to explain how information learned at B&E can be leveraged into a leadership role at Target.
In the summer of 2012, Biafore completed a 10-week stint as an executive intern at Target's Bridgeport location. She was one of 11 interns in the area, which spans from Bridgeport all the way to northern Pittsburgh. At the completion of her internship last August, she received a full-time job offer.
Biafore said that she's living proof of Target's desire to develop great leaders.
"Just looking from June until now, I can't believe how much I've developed into my leadership roles," she said. "I didn't know how to run the cash register at first but at the end of the 10 weeks I was running the entire floor by myself."
Biafore looks to turn her success into opportunities for other students.
"In BCOR 315 with Frank Vitale, we went to the career fair to talk with employers and I spoke with Target. To tell you the truth, I wasn't taking it seriously," she admits. "But I went through the interview process and got an offer for the internship." Biafore said that she credits B&E with helping her land the internship, which led to the campus liaison position and fulltime offer. Because of this, she feels a desire to pay it forward. "I want to give back to the College and show that we are a great school and we have potential," she said.
Her current position has allowed her to do just that. In addition to offering resume-building and interviewing practice sessions, Biafore was able to assist in the interviewing and hiring of three new interns for the program she completed last summer. All were students at B&E.
"We hired three interns from the fall career fair. It's so cool to see myself on the other side of the table, to be the one doing the hiring," she said. "We're looking for leadership (in our interns)," she said.
Some of the skills Biafore learned during her internship have transferred to the classroom, particularly in her business information system course with Dr. Jim Denton.
"I could participate more in the classroom when we talked about operational excellence, feedback, and logistics. All of that, I've done at Target." The hands-on knowledge has also been helpful in her human resources classes with Dr. Suzanne Kitchen.
"(At Target) we follow best practices just like she has taught. I already knew some of it from my internship," Biafore said.
Biafore has certainly enjoyed her campus liaison position, and has been able to create the program from the ground up as she sees fit for WVU since she is the first to serve in this capacity.
"I've made it my own. I'm currently trying to get the new interns more involved (at Target) before they even start this summer, because I was nervous when I started. I've become a mentor to them through this process. I'm planning an event at the Morgantown store so they can get a 'behind the scenes' view of Target to see what it's like," she said. "It blows my mind how much (the program has) changed in the past year. They're constantly developing me," Biafore said of the company.
In addition to her position as Target Campus Liaison, which takes about 10-15 hours per week, Biafore gets additional work experience on the weekends interning at Target's Bridgeport location.
"Between the two positions, I'm working about a 30-hour week," she said. Add that to a full semester of courses, as well as participation in extracurricular groups like SHRM, Psi Sigma Theta, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and National Society of Leadership and Success, and you've got one very busy student.
But Biafore said she is thankful for all the opportunities to be involved, and that prior leadership experience has accustomed her to a busy schedule. Her mother, who operates a handful of Shoney franchises, appointed her as a dining room supervisor at age 16.
"Being around my mom has always taught me to be a leader, and to lead by example. I'll remember that forever. I'm a first generation college student, so although I achieve for myself I'm also doing it to make her proud. I want to follow in her footsteps," she said.
Biafore's future fulltime role, which will most likely be in the Pittsburgh area, will be as an Executive Team Leader. "I'll manage certain areas of the store. I'll also be doing 'leader on duty' routines and watching over the entire store," she said. She also aspires to get her MBA, and work her way up through Target to eventually become a regional HR manager.
"I want to show students that you can get a job. You have to work for it though. It doesn't come easy. With my dedication and passion for Target, I can show students that it's a great opportunity," she said. She advises her mentees to "work hard, try your best and don't forget to smile."
"I never thought I'd go into retail, but the more I work the more I love it," Biafore said. "I'm lucky to have found that at 21 years old. I'll never work a day in my life."