My Experience in Internship with Menards

Essay details

My Experience in Internship With Menards

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Table of Contents

  • Incentive
  • Sales Techniques/Training
  • Conclusion

The opportunity to work as an intern through the University of South Dakota is something I’ve been thinking about since I began school back in 2014. At the time, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree. I chose Business Administration because it gave me a vast selection of classes to help me choose a career path by my senior year. For my internship, I chose to apply at the Menards in Yankton, SD for a few reasons.

I chose to go with Menards due to my background in retail. I’ve worked in retail off and on for the last 8 years giving me a good amount of experience to fit into the position. I’ve worked at the Hy-Vee distribution center in Cherokee, IA, a Hy-Vee wine and spirits, and a few other Hy-Vee stores while working my way through college. I also have management experience working as a project manager for a small radiology association while working through my radiology clinicals back in 2011-2014. My experience as well as the knowledge I gained through USD made me a great candidate for the position in Yankton.

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I had a couple of roads that I was willing to take when choosing a career. I could have chosen to move forward with a business-related profession in the medical field due to the experience I gained while going through radiology. With degrees in medicine and business, I believe I could have moved forward with a business career in a hospital setting, but I really didn’t enjoy working in the hospital culture while going through radiology school. Retail, depending on the store and location, is a lot more fun and much less stressful than the medical field. For me, the obvious choice for a happier life was a career in retail.

My expectations going into the internship were extremely high. I was excited to learn about the different products we offered, company buying and selling power, and dive into numbers of the entire store to utilize my degree towards making a more profitable store. These would have been good expectations for an Assistant General Manager internship but fell short of what I wanted. I believe the internship would have been better suited for this position but learning some of the more basic aspects of the job were needed before achieving a higher position.

After getting accepted for the position, Menards allowed me to choose between which department I would like to work in. I chose the Hardware department because I was somewhat familiar with a lot of the products. My direct supervisor’s name was Dallas Ouderkirk. Dallas started at Menards when he was 27 years old as a full-time employee and quickly moved through the chain to become department manager of Hardware. He has worked in multiple departments throughout the store making him extremely knowledgeable of product throughout the entire store.

My everyday duties when I first started were customer focused. We had an immense amount of training due at the end of each week that dealt with product familiarization, guest services, and sales techniques. Our main goal as an intern was learn the sales techniques to sell as much product to guests as we possible could. This differs from some of the other retail positions I’ve had because grocery really sells itself. A lot of the products we sold were high priced tangibles which guests could live without, but our focus was to make sure they left the store with the product.

Other daily duties that I was expected to work on were freight, upstocking, downstocking, receiving, and helping our employees when needed. I was given a leadership role and soon found out that employees would ask me questions and for permission on daily tasks. It took a while to figure out their process enough to answer their questions, but soon found that I was fitting into the position quite well.


A lot of the issues that I had with this internship were issues that we learned about in Organizational behavior. One of the major issues I had with this career was the pay system as well as their incentive compensation program. Menards runs off a low hourly wage with an Instant Profit-Sharing program and yearly bonus based on store profitability. Their IPS system works based on years of employment for the company. An employee must work for the company a minimum of 1000 hours per year to be eligible for IPS. After hitting their hours, the employee will receive a 5% instant profit-sharing bonus on a percentage of previous year’s sales. This percentage will increase by 2.5% for the next 4 years eventually maxing out at 15 %.

The first issue with this incentive program is a topic that we studied with Professor Lonsdale. The issue with profit sharing lies with individual employees throughout the company. IPS as an incentive is unmotivating because its is something that can be attained without putting in the work. If 90% of employees are working towards a better end goal, it leaves room for the other 10% to free load and receive the profits without putting in effort. The program is meant to build employees as a team to motivate sales unlike commission-based incentives, but it’s impossible to push everyone into putting in their maximum effort.

The second issue I have with the pay system of the company is a subject that we went over in Labor Economics with Professor Allgrunn. In a small town like Yankton, SD, a lower hourly wage with promises of IPS and bonuses at the end of the year is a reasonable job to have. The average wage of some of the department managers after 5 years was around $60,000 including IPS and bonuses, which I believe to be good for that position. The problem that I have with this is the lack of cost of living differentiation. Menards offers no increase in hourly wage based on average cost of living of the city the store is located in. Since starting the internship, I have moved to Sioux falls where the cost of living is exceptionally higher.

The starting pay for a new manager trainee including educational incentive is $13.50/hour. The program lasts for thirteen weeks and the trainee is expected to have found a position as a manager by the end of this training. If a management position is not found, the employee will permanently lose the $1.00/hour educational incentive spike and drop down to a full-time employee until finding a management position. As of right now, there is only one assistant manager position open in Sioux Falls which means relocation to receive the hourly incentive if the single position is filled.

This low of an hourly wage is where my issue lies with Menards. I stated my concerns about the salary to the General Manager during my exit interview and was told the pay doesn’t matter until the IPS and yearly bonus based on store profit comes in. Basing a large portion of yearly wages on Instant Profit Sharing and yearly bonuses is a total gamble. This year in Yankton, our hardware department alone was over $500,000 under forecasted sales due to the large amounts of snow we received in April. When I left, the store was slowly catching back up to the forecasted sales, but their bonus will be remarkably low due to weather.

This mixture of low wage, Instant Profit Sharing, and bonuses based on profitability in a market where weather can wreak havoc on forecasted sales were my biggest issues with the store. The exceedingly long hours through the day compared to the low wage and other financial risks leads to an indirect slope in labor to wage which is one of the major reasons I will not be staying with Menards.

Sales Techniques/Training

My expectations when going into this internship were extremely high as I stated in my introduction. As a college graduate, I was expecting to go into the internship with hopes of using the knowledge I had gained over the past four years. I quickly figured out that departments aren’t given any information which really applies to my field of study. Most of the information that I learned through school was either controlled by corporate in Eau Claire, WI, or was on the shoulders of the three General Managers. I was not allowed to help make any decisions due to the control that Corporate has on all the stores. A lot of the aspects of the company culture were disheartening, but there were a few aspects of the job that I believe will help me later in retail.

One aspect of the job that I absolutely loved was their training during the first 6 weeks of the program. Each week, we would have to go over training for store familiarization, computer training, and guest services which included selling techniques. One of my favorite classes from USD was Sales Management with Professor Jones. The book that we read while in his class was quite helpful when trying to learn the sales process for Menards. Scientific Selling by Nancy Martini had a chapter that related closely to our sales technique.

Greeting a customer with a smile and asking an open-ended question to receive a response on what the guest is looking for. Asking close-ended questions can create a loss in communication which can sometimes lose a sale all together. Qualifying a guest by asking more open-ended questions to qualify what product would specifically meet their needs. Presenting no more than three products at a time so a guest will not be overwhelmed with choices. Closing a sale by asking if the product is something they would be interested in. Menards and Martini both stated that handing a guest the presented item leads to a thought of ownership making the guest more likely to buy the item. The last step of the process is following up with a friendly ending statement which will hopefully make them want to come back to the store for later business.

I went into the internship with a mindset of doing more analytical work but was in for a surprise when I learned what the job really involved. I was disappointed at first at some of the information I would be missing out on, but I really fell in love with selling. I found that I had a knack for it and would sneak away from my other duties at work to focus on sales rather than running freight.

I truly believe the best quality of the internship with Menards was the amount of effort they put into making sure that each employee comes out with a great experience. Department managers are assigned to watch over each employees’ sales techniques with customers, so they can effectively advise them on what they could improve on. Also, the General Manager meets with every employee halfway through sales training to ensure that everyone is learning the sales technique in a way that will help them succeed at their job. I really did appreciate the effort the company put into their employees to establish a strong basis for success.


My recommendations for anybody that is thinking of doing their internship with Menards would be to try and apply at other places. Other than the sales training that they provided, my days were filled with running freight and taking care of receiving upstairs. I believe their compensation does not support college educated employees and it takes an extremely long time to get to a decent wage. The stores do not support employees with families who are looking to move up to higher levels in the company due to the required relocation of at least 3 stores to become a General Manager. Menards also does not allow any freedom of thought to try and improve sales which was another major downfall for me. I do not recommend anybody to work there for all these reasons.

I really believe if I were to do this internship again, I would try to see if they would allow me to intern with the General Managers. It doesn’t require a degree to be a department manager and the extent of the job was basically answering a phone and delegating every employees task for the day. It almost feels as if I wasted the last 3 months because of how little I used my degree. If I were allowed to make merchandising decisions, I believe marketing classes would be the best classes to take. Placement of product in end-caps in high traffic areas of the store is crucial to earning monthly forecasted sales. Product knowledge of fast moving items based off each season and demand are some of the most common items that’ll be placed on endcaps. Marketing would be a great subject to study for plan-o-gram mapping.

During my final week of the internship, I was responsible for heading a department meeting which finally allowed me to see some of the income statements for the store. I really did appreciate learning about accounting and finance in school because it allowed me to read through the statements to know exactly how we were doing as a department. At some point through the internship, I did recognize something through most of the classes I took whether it was related to human resources or supply chain issues. I briefly got to see the problems, but I never actually got to work on corrections for the issues.

The most useful class that I took during my time at USD for this internship was sales management. The material that Billy had us look over as well as the trips to Daktronics and Click Rain really gave me a step up for a career in retail. Listening to the CEO’s of these companies really gave me incredible insight on how a sales team should operate. I thoroughly enjoyed that class and hope that it stays in the rotation of classes for upcoming students to take.

Overall, I am happy that I took the jump to work for a different retail store. My main goal for this internship was to see if I enjoyed working in a different retail store rather than Hy-Vee. I have always enjoyed my jobs with Hy-Vee, but I just wanted to see if selling other products rather than grocery interested me. This internship was more reassurance that I want to stay with Hy-Vee and make a career out of it. With my previous jobs at Hy-Vee, I have gained an incredible list of references ranging from the director of the distribution center to a couple of the Vice Presidents of the company. I have accepted a job at Hy-Vee #4 in Sioux Falls as an assistant manager and I have the Menards internship to thank for helping me make my decision.

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