After being laid off, I took a huge pay cut to work a $15/hour retail job at Target—why I don’t regret it


After losing my director-level job in real estate management in April 2023, I chose to see the layoff as an opportunity for a career change. Despite hundreds of job applications, I only landed two interviews and no job offers, leaving me unemployed as the holidays approached. On a whim, I applied for a seasonal position at Target, and to my surprise, I was offered the role the next day at $15 an hour, a significant pay cut. Despite my initial doubts, I found the experience to be rewarding and humbling.

My interactions with guests at Target were positive, and I quickly bonded with my co-workers. I gained a newfound respect for retail workers and the physical demands of the job. The experience helped me regain my confidence and reminded me of my value and ability to make customers happy.

I took pride in my work at Target, from organizing chaotic backroom areas to handling a guest's medical emergency. The experience reinforced my crisis-management skills and left me feeling proud. While I am now searching for my dream role in HR management or training and development, I am grateful for the unexpected but rewarding detour my seasonal job at Target provided.  

 The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) is causing widespread job displacement among tech workers. As AI becomes capable of handling laborious tasks previously performed by humans, tech professionals are increasingly finding themselves out of work. Paradoxically, some of these laid-off workers are now using AI software to aid in their job search, particularly when applying for new positions that require technical skills such as coding.

A concerning trend highlighted by Business Insider is that job seekers are leveraging AI to complete coding tasks posed during interviews. These tasks are designed to assess a candidate's problem-solving abilities and technical proficiency. Shockingly, it has been observed that AI chatbots like ChatGPT can effectively tackle these coding challenges, leaving hiring managers unable to differentiate between genuine human responses and AI-generated solutions. While a study by showcased this disconcerting reality, its small sample size raises questions about the broader applicability of the findings to high-tech job interviews.

Interestingly, the study also revealed that AI-generated coding solutions were less successful when faced with uniquely tailored problems specific to certain industries or job requirements. This aspect mirrors the challenge faced by hiring managers when crafting interview questions that can't be easily predicted or prepared for by applicants.

Despite the ethical concerns surrounding the use of AI to "cheat" on high-tech job interviews, it's important to acknowledge that developers routinely rely on external sources, including AI-generated code, to complete their projects. This reflects the reality of today's software development landscape, where vast repositories of coding knowledge are readily available online, and utilizing these resources is considered a valuable skill.

Moreover, the issue of AI-assisted cheating extends beyond job interviews, with reports of students using AI to complete assignments and exams. Although fears of high school students utilizing AI for cheating appear overstated, the pervasive integration of AI into daily life underscores the growing impact of AI on various aspects of education and work.

In light of these developments, high-tech recruiters are urged to adapt their interview processes to account for the influence of AI. Embracing AI as a tool for crafting more sophisticated interview questions and assessment methods may be a strategic approach to navigating the evolving technological landscape.  

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