I'm almost half way through my internship, and Bentonville has started to get hot. The weather reminds me of summer in Shanghai—even the wind is hot. But the life here is completely the opposite of that in Shanghai: there are much fewer people here, life is more peaceful, the air is fresher, the pace is slower. But life is not as convenient, especially without a car, since there’s no public transportation here (luckily Walmart got a shuttle for the interns commuting between hotels and offices). If you like outdoor activities, this is definitely a great place. You can go hiking, boating, camping, and enjoy the nature in "The Natural State."
As the number-one retailer in the world and the world’s third-largest public corporation, Walmart also has a big intern program. Hundreds of interns from different schools, different regions, different majors, and different backgrounds get here together. There are events for you to participate in to meet and make good friends: the stakeholders meeting, intern development day, distribution center visit, career discovery, speaker series, and more. Each department also has their social events. So there’s enough to keep you busy.
People also work hard here. I had the kick-off meetings of my two projects right after I finished the orientation. Unlike the first day of a new job when you have nothing to do other than just sit in front of the computer and get familiar with the environment, you should be prepared to get the ball rolling. Every morning, most of the associates start working before 7:30. But the good thing is that most people don’t stay late as well. You can leave around 6:00-6:30 p.m. and enjoy your family time. People here are very nice, too. I’ve got a project for which I need many pieces of information from different functions. Everyone I talked to is willing to help and gives as much information as they can. That makes my life much easier, which is also an important lesson I learned here—before you start working on some questions, be sure to talk with people about them, as you will be surprised how much valuable information you can gather by that method. In a big organization like Walmart, there is tons of research done on various topics. You can always learn something from others who have experience on similar topic, who used a similar approach to look for answers, or who can point you to someone else who can help. By talking to people and building on pieces of information that you collect, you can make a big difference on your project.
It’s been two months since I left Madison for the internship. I miss the city, the school, and my friends back there. I am excited about welcoming the new class in the coming fall. Hopefully everyone has had a great summer and is ready for the new semester.