The Real Walmart: Anthony Soto

By Anthony Soto
November 26, 2014
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How Walmart Helped Me Grow My Career and Finish My Degree

Today, I have one of the toughest jobs I’ve had in my 17 years with Walmart – I’m a market manager supervising nine supercenters in North Carolina. Still, it was at this point in my career that I chose to do something even more challenging: return to college to complete my degree.

I was in my first year of college when I started at Walmart as a part-time cashier. I saw a lot of opportunity for growth, and my hard work got me promoted quickly. Before I knew it, I was in the assistant manager training program, and I was considering relocating to work at the store of my choice. So I put school on hold at that moment and pursued my career instead – later moving up even further from the stores to the corporate office to roles in merchandising and supplier diversity.

I often thought about college though, especially after my wife and I had two children. As the first in my family who would earn a bachelor’s degree, I wanted to leave a legacy for them, and I want higher education to be the expectation for generations afterward. I also knew that going back to school would help me in my work life; a degree could only make me more competitive and sharp.

One day, one of my leaders at work told me about his decision to go back and complete his degree. He’s a senior vice president, and I couldn’t help but think that if he could pull it off at his level, there was no reason for me to wait any longer. Another source of motivation was actually Walmart. I learned soon after about the company’s partnership with American Public University, which allows associates to receive discounts on tuition and credit hours for job experience.

APU is an online college, which made it convenient for me to fit school into my schedule. But that certainly didn’t mean it was easy. Balancing it all forced me to have a strict routine, so I could dedicate certain days and hours to studying, and then the rest to work and family. I remember nights when I went to bed at 3 a.m. and got up at 6 a.m. to go to work. My wife and kids supported me through all of that, and I couldn’t wait for them to see me get my diploma on graduation day.

A few months ago, my family and I had the chance to talk about this experience in Walmart’s ad campaign, The Real Walmart. Now that my wife and kids have seen me succeed, I hope my passion and drive can be an example to others, especially those I lead at work. Seeing people achieve their goals is the best part of my job, and I’m honored to play a part in making it happen.