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Millsaps Student Gains Real-World Experience with Walmart Internship

September 25, 2013


Come the spring of 2014, Sarah Peterman expects to see the group of bicycle locks she selected during her recent internship for sale at Walmart stores across the country.



Peterman, a Millsaps College junior from Alexandria, La., gained her internship with the world's largest retailer by submitting an application on the website of Enactus, a world-wide club dedicated to promoting sustainable business projects within one's community.

"All Enactus members can apply for internship opportunities on Enactus' career site," said Peterman, who is president of the Millsaps chapter of Enactus. "That is how I found the Walmart internship.  Walmart submitted a merchandising intern position to the Enactus career site."

After an initial interview, numerous Skype interviews, several online aptitude tests and a reference check, Peterman learned she had been selected for the internship at Walmart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.  She was assigned to work in merchandising in the toy department.

Each intern receives a project to complete, and Peterman's project focused on bicycle locks. She narrowed the variety of bicycle locks that will be sold starting in the spring of 2014 and focused on how to educate customers about the locks.

She created a rating system based on the strength of a lock, using data from an independent testing lab. "Every lock package will have the same product design that states the rating of each particular lock," she said.

She also created signage so a customer can select a bicycle lock with an appropriate level of security by referring to a chart that factors in where the bicyclist lives, such as a suburban area, city or college campus, and the length of time he or she leaves a bike locked.

During her internship, Peterman enjoyed several perks of corporate life. She had the opportunity to attend Walmart's 2013 shareholders meeting, which featured music by Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend and appearances by Hugh Jackman and Tom Cruise.

She was privileged to attend a screening of a new Disney movie - "Frozen" - that is scheduled to be in theaters November 27.  "The movie was only 55 percent complete, so half of the movie was drawn in story board and hadn't been animated yet," she said.

Peterman also had the opportunity to fly aboard the Walmart corporate jet to visit a supplier, Huffy Corp.  "Walmart owns a fleet of jets that associates can use to visit suppliers," she said.

An accounting major who plans to also obtain an M.B.A., Peterman has no specific career plans at this point. She was asked to return for a second internship at Walmart and plans to do so. "I will be returning to Bentonville next summer," she said.

Dr. Ray Grubbs, professor of management for the Else School of Management at Millsaps College, said Peterman is the kind of leader that Walmart  and other companies seek.

"Her involvement on campus activities as president of Enactus, the entrepreneurial service club, as well as other positions of leadership and service made her an attractive choice for the Walmart  internship," he said. "Her advice to her student colleagues is sound - get involved on campus and make connections that lead to significant work and career opportunities."

Vice chair of the Millsaps Honor Council, secretary for the College Republicans and a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, Peterman said she selected Millsaps because of its small size and the opportunities it offers for students to get to know their professors.

"I wanted to go to a school where the professors care about my education and my future," she said. "I definitely believe that I have gotten that experience at Millsaps."