From cashier to confident groomer to company leader

Laura Conway, District Academy Trainer_1

By Betsy Lane, MA, Education and FetchFind Academy Instructor

You may envision a career with grooming scissors in hand rather than the headset in your corner cubicle. But how do you actually make that transition? There are a lot of educational opportunities available in the pet industry, from online education like FetchFind’s Monthly Pro program to physical academies to on-the-job training. Sometimes those opportunities become available at the most unpredictable time. Here’s a look at the career path of someone who simply wanted part-time, seasonal work but is now a district manager for a large specialty pet retailer.

When Laura Conway became a cashier at PetSmart, she was a college student looking for a part-time job during vacations. While she loved the team and the company, she never imagined she would complete PetSmart’s Grooming Academy and ultimately become a District Grooming Academy Trainer! Laura’s professional opportunities expanded from her original cashier role when her store needed additional help in the salon, and she learned how to bathe dogs. She soon learned all the salon basics, and found that she loved the fast-paced salon environment.

Six months later, with her supervisor’s encouragement, she enrolled in PetSmart’s Grooming Academy—an intensive, 4-week program during which students learn grooming skills, styles, safety, customer service, and more. Academy students groom 200 dogs as part of their training! The program is rigorous, but it helps students graduate feeling comfortable and confident as new groomers. Laura values this and the company’s commitment to continuing education, noting that “grooming is an industry that keeps changing, so I’m still learning things. There are always new groom styles coming out, like Asian Fusion, and the company held a demo for us with a famous groomer in that style.”

As both Home Office Associate and Field Office Associate, Laura works in a corporate setting at the PetSmart headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in the field, where she interacts with customers and associates. Laura enjoys this business travel as well as traveling on her vacations; as a 10-year PetSmart employee, she enjoys four weeks of paid vacation each year—a luxury she would miss if she ran her own salon.

There’s a lot Laura loves about this job: the travel and benefits, and the fact that it combines her love of animals and grooming with her passion for teaching people new skills. But what means the most to her might surprise you: “I like the structure, the safety focus, and the corporate values, which are very focused on the customer,” she says. “That’s something I would look for as a pet parent in the grooming salon—somebody who has set rules and can be a trusted partner to groom my pet.”

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https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon
Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

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