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Getting A Career Makeover: From Army Greens To Spa Scrubs

Laura Zapasnik tells us why discipline doesn't end after the Army.

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From Army greens to spa scrubs, Laura Zapasnik is someone proving that discipline is required for all aspects of life experience. And discipline doesn’t end after the Army, especially when studying a Diploma of Beauty Therapy at GOTAFE in Wangaratta and running a Karate Dojo in Wodonga with her husband.

Tell us about yourself

When I was 18 I joined the Army immediately, so that was a large part of my early 20’s. After some time serving, I decided I wanted a better work-life balance. I think when you’re deprived of something you want it more. I was never into beauty as a teenager, I never did my makeup, never did my hair – just wasn’t into it. But throughout my career in the Army, makeup and personal care such as spa days was something we didn’t have the luxury of experiencing. There were points in time we couldn’t even shower for a month let alone do our hair and makeup. After that, I realised, “you know what? Beauty Therapy something I want to explore”.

I also do Karate; I have my own Karate Dojo in Wodonga with my husband.

Laura Zapasnik standing in salon class room

Do you think you’ve been able to apply any values or lessons learned from your time in the Army with what you’re doing now?

Yeah, 100%. I would probably say they’re more general than specific, for example, I’m super big on timings. If someone tells me to be somewhere at 10 o’clock, I’ll be there at 9.30. I try to do things to the best of my ability, but I also make sure to get everything done on time as well.

What have you liked best about studying for a Diploma of Beauty Therapy at GOTAFE?

There’s a lot to enjoy about my learning experience so far. I’ve completed similar certificates at different educational institutes, and when I started at GOTAFE the key thing I noticed is the teachers want to go beyond getting you to a minimum standard, they don’t want to just fulfil their fundamental requirements. They’re wanting to make sure that you’re ready for the industry so that when you go out you feel confident and comfortable in every aspect of what is learned here at the salon. If I told our trainer, Mel Wilcox, “I’m really struggling with this particular topic” she will take the time to do one-on-one focus sessions with me and go out of her way to make sure I feel completely ready. It’s the dedication to the students, you’re not just a number.
In regional Victoria, you have the benefit of class numbers being set into smaller groups so that your educational needs can be better managed. It provides students with the opportunity of having more direct contact with the trainers. You definitely get a lot more out of your experience in regional educational institutions.

What have been your challenges while studying?

I think the obvious challenge was the pandemic in 2020. It presented some barriers to learning such as not being able to attend classes in the salon. It was difficult for anyone that would be working and learning a primarily practice-based course, especially with beauty, it’s not foremost a theory focussed course. Learning online for an extended period definitely wasn’t ideal in this circumstance. But all challenges that arise are just the basis of you as an individual being capable of time management and staying on top of your workload. Making sure that you’re organised, that you keep your calendar up-to-date so you know when things are due and what’s going on in your day to day is an important trait to have in study and work. Situations that usually throw people off require you to have some level of discipline so that you’re always ready. Ensuring that you’re proving capable to be work-ready and of course, so that your trainers don’t have to micro-manage you either – it helps to be accountable in an adult learning environment.

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What are your future goals?

Probably having my own small business, I’m really interested in pursuing a career that provides spa treatments. I’d love to open my own spa one day. Though I still believe it’s very important to go work somewhere else for someone else so that you can get your experience.

Looking at the industry, is there anything you believe could improve?

Maybe if you had asked me twenty years ago I most likely would have had a different answer, but no, I think our industry has been heading in the right direction. We look at beauty now as a more holistic exercise rather than a focus on physical appearance.

Interested in pursuing a career in beauty therapy?

Get in touch with us today so you can start your learning journey with GOTAFE.