Interns through the looking glass

An unpredictable summer turns into a virtual reality.

Ob-la-di, ob-la da…Yeah, it’s pretty doubtful the Beatles had the perils of 2020 in mind when melodically telling us life goes on.

But, that’s exactly what’s been on everyone’s playlist the past few months. Well, that and maybe Jamiroquai’s Virtual Insanity (definitely look it up), which might be more accurate for our 2020 Sam’s Club interns when their moment to shine went digital!

“It has been a really great experience to come into this company and get to know the work, the associates and what everything is all about,” said Leesa Gavin, a Business Analytics major at the University of Tennessee. “I’m leaving this summer knowing Sam’s Club is one of the biggest innovators in the retail industry and the current initiatives here will change everything. There’s an exciting future ahead for Sam’s Club.”

61 interns took part in Sam’s Club’s internship program this year in Merchandising, Marketing & Membership, Product & UX, Technology and Supply Chain. And as many companies canceled their summer internship programs, Sam’s Club made a conscious decision to maintain the program, virtually.

One word to describe the virtual experience… inspirational, according to Deshanna Bradford, a Business Management and Marketing major from Southern University, who was able to work on the Members Mark marketing plan, as well as infusing the company’s values on social media. “Sam’s Club didn’t have to continue this internship, but they did. There are lot of people who continue to inspire me every single day and every single call I’m on. I absolutely love it.”

The outcome of the intern program is to enhance the talent pipeline for Sam’s Club through the conversion of great talent from intern to full-time hire post-graduation. Leesa Gavin, Deshanna Bradford and Garrett Dodgen are three of those 61 interns, and they recently participated in the company’s virtual All-Hands meeting where they shared their experience with executives and home office associates in an interview with Vinod Bidarkoppa, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, Sam's.

Leesa, Deshanna and Garrett had the opportunity to work on some large scale projects to help progress the innovation Leesa described, including a dashboard for inventory flow, identifying gaps on private brand products for our members and elevating the Sam’s Club private brands online in the health & wellness space.

Looking to his future in Business Analytics, while working on the Merchandising Team, Garrett Dodgen, an MBA Candidate at Southern Methodist University – Cox School of Business, spent a lot of time in clubs and developing strategy to generate more online traffic and awareness for Sam’s Club’s Members Mark private brand in the Consumable/Health & Wellness space.

“I didn’t know what to expect. But I’ve interacted with thousands of people,” he said, mentioning his time in the military and talking with members of the Pentagon. Through his interactions during the internship, he echoed the innovation being done at Sam’s Club, including the Sam’s Club Now facility, and how supportive every associates has been. “Everyone I’ve met virtually and in club I feel are genuine and authentic; always willing to help me out with anything I was working on and supportive in my team’s intern project.”

These are just three of the many names to remember as part of the 2020 internship program who will change the world, and they’re going to do it through positivity. “I think that’s something really important to have right now,” Leesa said, describing her experience. “There is so much ambiguity and so much unknown but what’s helped me is just staying positive.”

So even though their internship is coming to an end and they don’t know for sure what awaits them, they’ll always remember this virtual insanity of 2020. “It’s been a really great summer, and I’m lucky to be part of a fantastic team,” Deshanna said.

After all, ob-la-di, ob-la da.