Working at Walmart

TL;DR: If you want a decent unskilled labor job, apply at Walmart (especially before the holidays, they’re hiring a lot right now). If you can get a highly skilled job, maybe don’t apply at Walmart (maybe corporate).

I work at Walmart. I have just had my first anniversary actually (which is something that they actually pay a lot of attention to). It’s something that I actually didn’t think would ever happen.

A few years ago I have actually said that I would never work in retail. But then, the job market not giving me a whole lot of options because I didn’t have a formally finished education or job training. So I ended up having to take a job in a small computer store to finish my job training as a programmer. Unfortunately for me, most employers in the United States don’t really care what kind of education you had or have received in a foreign country.

I came to the US just last year and Walmart was actually the first job I have had in this country. Before I applied for the job and over the past few years I have heard quite a few negative things about Walmart and so I was fairly reluctant to even apply. Obviously, though, I didn’t really have a whole lot of options.

It struck me as very odd that Walmart has such a huge hatred for unions, which is something that you don’t commonly see in Germany. When you start working at Volkswagen, for example, you get a union application with your work contract. There are very few people working in automotive companies that are not unionized and the same goes for many other sectors. I was told that Walmart makes a point of paying their workers as little as possible, to the point that people have to rely on food stamps and other government programs to even survive.

The truth is that Walmart actually improved upon a lot of things in recent years. The hatred of unions is still ever present but the need for unions isn’t really there anymore. The starting pay also went up to $9/h and there’s a mandatory raise to $10/h if you finish all your training. Walmart also has a decent set of benefits which include a 401k plan that matches up to 6% of your income after you’ve been with the company for over a year.

Now compare that with other unskilled labor jobs. Retail jobs, fast food jobs, restaurant jobs, etc. You won’t find a whole lot of jobs that start out at $9 an hour and even fewer that will throw some benefits in there as well. But even disregarding all of that, there’s a huge difference.

If you wanted to, you could make Walmart a career. In the store I work at, and many others I have seen, you just need to do a good job, have some ambition, and show up for work every day and you’ll likely be able to move up fairly quickly. I got promoted to be a supervisor after working for the company for less than 9 months. Technically there are options for even steeper increases in position, but that happens fairly rarely. I have seen people get promoted after less than 6 months, though.

So after all the jobs I’ve done where hard work was never commended, rarely even noticed. I have a job where I can see a path to success, where performance matters.