Student Internship: Wal-Mart

This summer I am interning within the Health and Wellness Division of Wal-Mart in the home office. When I first accepted the offer with Wal-Mart, I honestly did not know what to expect. All of my experience before accepting this offer had been in the public sector and I was not sure how I would fit into the company culture or even with the type of people who work for such a large company.

When I first arrived in Fayetteville to the apartment complex they put me in for the summer, I was shocked. The complex was on a golf course and I can honestly say that the apartment is the nicest one I have ever been in. The craziest part was that the management actually has someone come in and clean the apartment once a week. After moving in, I met my roommate,an MBA from Missouri, and was introduced to the other interns in the complex by him. The first two days in orientation we went through the company background, watched a video on how unions are bad (which everyone thought was a joke), and learned about the company culture. During orientation, the high point was meeting all of the new interns. These interns came from top ten schools like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Penn, Dartmouth, and Chicago as well as coming from state schools: Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Missouri, Texas, and Arkansas to name a few. It was really interesting to hear some of the work other interns had done in investment banking, consulting, and international development.

On the first Wednesday, I was finally able to start working. After I met the other intern working with Health and Wellness during orientation,a Harvard dual MD/MBA student, we decided to ride together to work. After arriving the first thing I did was meet the two VPs who were my supervisors. They explained my project to me and then introduced me to a senior director and senior buyer that I would be directly reporting to. I noticed the entire time that everyone was very happy to have me and really excited to help me grow this summer. Because Wal-Mart is such a large company, I expected the pace to be pretty relaxed and for senior level staff to be off-limits. Both of these assumptions were disproven within the first few hours of working. After discussing my project with me, my supervisor explained that we had several meetings to attend during the day and that he wanted to expose me to different people and ideas so that I could make the most of my time with Wal-Mart.

Between meetings with executives from multi-national pharmaceutical companies on my first day, my supervisor would take me around the office to meet people. During break, my supervisor and I were walking down the hall and noticed Robbie Gordon and Jessie James talking to a co-worker so we turned around and talked to them with everyone until they left. After we left, my supervisor and one of my VP’s decided to take me to lunch in the cafeteria. Once we returned to the office, Dr. John Agwunobi, the President of Health and Wellness and SVP at Wal-Mart asked to meet with me. Before coming to Wal-Mart, I had heard about Dr. John because he is a former U.S. Secretary of Health. To say the least, I was completely shocked that he knew who I was and wanted to speak to me. We spoke one-on-one for almost an hour about Wal-Mart, health strategy, and my interests.

After my first week, I was completely blown away by Wal-Mart. I truly have access to top executives and my supervisors continually encourage me to take advantage of this access to learn more about the company. In fact, I was even able to meet Mike Duke (the CEO of Wal-Mart) later during my first week. All of my supervisors and my peer mentor are committed to my professional development and are more than willing to answer any questions I have. After this first week, I am excited to see what the rest of the summer holds!

–Robby Knight

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