Career, Then College: With Walmart’s Help, I Juggled Both

By Thomas Rasbach
May 28, 2015
Thomas Rasbach

When I was hired as a Walmart associate, a career was the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, I did a lot more crossing my fingers it wouldn't rain than I did mapping out my future. As a 16-year-old cart pusher looking to make a little money while going to high school, a dry day meant life was good.

As I approached my high school graduation, the realities of life began to set in. How was I going to support myself? Get an apartment? Pay my bills? Build a future? All of a sudden, that line my managers had been using – At Walmart, you can go as far as your hard work and talent will take you – started to really mean something.

So I did. I applied myself and became proactive in seeking out opportunity. I sought to learn everything I could about the business and it took me places – from cart pusher to sales floor to department manager to assistant manager.

Right about the time things started to get extremely competitive, I decided to look into Walmart’s partnership with American Public University, part of the accredited American Public University system. Since 2010, Walmart has partnered with APU to offer associates the opportunity to earn a college degree at a discounted price.

The discount and the ability to continue as a full-time associate while working toward my college degree were exactly what I needed. APU reviewed my career portfolio and awarded me 24 college credit hours based on my specific work history with Walmart. That’s 24 credits toward a bachelor’s degree in business administration before I even opened a book. I was already well on my way.

That was in February 2011. By February 2014, I’d earned my degree and a promotion to field project supervisor in store planning for Walmart’s Northeast Division. The discount and flexibility served me so well, I’ve already started working toward my masters degree. And I’ve been able to do so while continuing to work and without taking on huge student loans.

A few years down the road, I may be working in operations or perhaps at the corporate level. I’m not sure which route I want to go yet. What I do know is I can choose that path – and Walmart has put all the steps in place for me to go out and earn it.

If you are an associate who is interested in more information on rules and eligibility concerning Walmart education opportunities, please visit WalmartOne.