Employer Lifelong Learning Programs Help Students SucceedThomas Rasbach | Assistant Store Manager, Walmart Stores Inc.
Working for Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has its advantages. I began working for the company in 1999 as a cart pusher and worked my way through every department in the store as an hourly employee on my way to becoming an assistant store manager. The only jobs I have not applied for require specialty degrees, such as pharmacists.
That is where I hit a ceiling on my career growth.
The next step for me is a shift manager, for which the competition is extremely tough. While a degree is not required, it is strongly suggested. After all, most applicants have one — and that sets them apart from applicants without one. So, in early 2011, I began looking at going back to school. However, it was hard because I worked a full-time job in retail, where work hours are unpredictable, at best. As a result, going to a brick-and-mortar school was not really an option for me.
Choosing an online school was the only way I would be able to attend college, due the scheduling flexibility they offer non-traditional students like me. I learned about Wal-Mart’s Lifelong Learning Program — a partnership between the company and the American Public University (APU) — that would allow my 11 years of previous work experience to be evaluated for college credit.
The application process was extremely simple and, after I submitted my career portfolio for evaluation, I received 24 college credits for my experience. APU also offers lifelong learning courses that help Wal-Mart employees receive even more academic credit. They are two-week, pass/fail classes that are self-paced with a final exam to make sure students have the required knowledge to receive credit for the course.
I am now a senior looking to finish my degree requirements this coming winter. In three years, I will have completed a four-year degree, while working 50 to 60 hours a week and taking 12 credit hours a semester. I have pride in everything I do, which has afforded me the opportunity to participate in two honor societies. I am a member of Delta Mu Delta, a business honor society, and am also the APU chapter president of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Without Wal-Mart supporting the Lifelong Learning Program throughout our stores, I do not know if I would be the collegiate scholar I am today.
Author Perspective: Student