When I went back to school to obtain a Master’s in Real Estate, I never imagined that I’d be spending my summer working at Walmart. In fact, it wasn’t even on my radar. You can imagine then, how surprised I was to hear my mentor suggest I give the company a try. “No one in the US has built more real estate in the past 50 years” he said. “If you want to learn development, you should really give them a chance.” It took a minute for his wisdom to sink in, and before I knew it, I was on a plane heading to Bentonville, Arkansas.
I am nearly four weeks into my internship now, and am working with the New Store Development group. So far, it has been a fantastic experience. My main responsibilities are to help identify new sites for Walmart Supercenters and to move each project through the development cycle. I work closely with one of the company’s Senior Real Estate Directors, and it has been incredible to be able to connect with him and so many other talented individuals. Within Walmart Real Estate, there are a number of different departments including a legal team, an engineering team, a finance team, and the Strategy and Innovations team, where the Baker Program’s own Gen Takahashi (Baker/MBA ’18) is interning! Meeting and learning from this diverse group of professionals has been the best part of my experience thus far.
My internship has also come with some unexpected surprises. During my first week on the job, I was able to attend the annual Walmart Shareholders meeting, which not only consisted of conducting company business but also featured: a live round of Family Feud hosted by Steve Harvey, a short concert from Katy Perry, and stand-up comedy, with James Corden roasting Walmart executives. Enjoying all of this in an arena with 20,000 Walmart Associates from around the globe was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I have also been fortunate to be able to do a significant amount of travel as part of my internship. An integral part of the site selection process involves visiting potential markets. To facilitate this, Walmart Real Estate has full access to the company’s fleet of corporate jets. In the first four weeks here, I have been able to visit Denver, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Houston, and various smaller towns in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and along the California coast. Flying and driving these markets with professionals who have decades of site selection, acquisition, and development experience has led to some of the most insightful conversations about commercial real estate that I have ever been a part of. It has truly been an invaluable experience interning at Walmart, and I can’t wait to see what the next four weeks bring!