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MIS student's Walmart internship let him experience corporate world

Sushil Akhare posing with Walmart mascot

When management information systems graduate student Sushil Akhare was offered a summer internship at Walmart's headquarters, he knew the experience would be far beyond scanning barcodes for the retail giant.

As one of 270 interns from 93 universities at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., Akhare worked on the human resources analytics team, helping the company to understand what qualities would make employees high-performing store managers. He explored data on employees and built various metrics to distinguish high-performing managers from low-performing ones, and helped to create a predictive system to determine which employees could be good management potential.

"Walmart is a brand, it's a number one company all over the globe," he said. "I was happy that I chose to do an internship there, because once I went there I saw the work culture and the respect for the employee, and that was a cool environment to work in."

Akhare, an international student originally from Mumbai, India, says when he graduates with his master's degree in December, he believes the education he received at the USF Muma College of Business and his experience with Walmart will make him an in-demand employee.

"The internship really helps you to know what exactly happens in the corporate world," he said. "I feel more confident than I was before."

During his internship, Akhare said he felt like a valued Walmart employee. He was able to learn about different areas of analytics in the company in addition to HR analytics, such as customer, operational, and marketing analytics. The company scheduled a speakers series where the president and vice president spoke and answered questions. Interns were invited to the annual shareholders meeting, and could schedule a half-hour meeting with anyone -- from their supervisor to the CEO of the company. Akhare scheduled a couple of one-on-one meetings to speak with Walmart's IT directors.

"I liked the culture of working there because they really have an open-door policy," he said.

Akhare attributes much of his success at Walmart to the M.S. in Management Information Systems program at USF. The classes, along with his experience in the ISDS practice center working with a local fertilizer company, made him familiar with the databases and analytics strategy that he used this summer.

"The learning from the classes here at USF really helped me because they gave me exposure to the tools as well as the processes that are behind the predictive analyses," he said.

After graduation, Akhare hopes to gain more international experience before returning to India. He said from his experience with Walmart, he would tell students to look for internships that can give them something in addition to a line on their résumés.

"It's not just work," he said. "Besides work, you learn a lot about what a company values – community service or their ethics. You have to have something that gives you personal development as well as work experience."