Daniel McGown began working at the Walmart on Boulder Highway in a temporary position. He is now the department manager of the Lawn and Garden section.
McGown, like many Walmart employees, didn't expect to make a career at Walmart. Three and a half years later, he graduated from the Walmart Academy, which opened in June.
"It can be more than just a job for you," McGown said. "It can be a career. Whatever you put into it is what you get out of it."
The Walmart Academy serves not only the Boulder Highway location but nearly 30 stores around the Las Vegas valley and in parts of Arizona and Utah. 200 employees have graduated the local academy so far.
"It's about kinda formalizing that training process and providing a consistent training process because the idea behind it is you should able to go into a Walmart in San Diego or Schenectady and get the same level of customer service because everyone is on the same training program," said Erica Jones, senior manager communications for Walmart.
While the customer is considered a top priority, it also helps managers work with their associates in the department or store.
"It helped me be a better supervisor and a better role model for my department," McGown said. "... It teaches you how to appreciate your associates and approach them and be better associates. You can take all the tools from the academy and implement it into your department and make your department, not only your department, but your whole store better."
The first academy opened in Carrollton, Texas, outside of Dallas, in 2016 with 200 total academies expected to open by the end of 2017. Around 200,000 employees are expected to graduate by year's end.
While the Walmart Academy is required for all managers, it's not the typical management training required of employees. The training generally lasts one to six weeks, depending on the level of schooling desired. It involves classroom work but associates also go onto the store floor for activities.
"After participating in class themselves, they are much more knowledgeable of the expectations they have on a day-to-day basis and the processes that need to be executed," said Rita Herrera, the manager of the Walmart Academy in Las Vegas.
Besides learning about techniques that help them in their current jobs, the academy also aims to provide information about other departments, which can help employees move up in the company. The academy provides continuing education as needed to associates.
"Associates are told, you know hey, you can come in at Walmart, you can start as a cashier and work your way up," Jones said. "The academy helps demystify that process and really shows the career path and the steps you can take and giving you the tools to enable yourself."
Jones noted that 70 percent of the salaried store management began as hourly associates before moving up. Many have spent a decade or more with Walmart.
Rhyz Mendoza-Baird has been with Walmart for 10 1/2 years, starting as a cashier shortly after moving to Las Vegas from the Philippines. She is now a training coordinator and said the Walmart Academy gives her opportunities to continue to advance.
"My career didn't stop in here because they always give us a chance for improvement and learning," she said.