When I initially enrolled into cosmetology school, I had no ideal what I was truly signing up for. No time for real 9-5 income. Commiting 35 hours a week to school was a full time job in itself. On top of that, being surrounded by the same 140 women day in and day out, whew chile…There were definitely some heated moments there! But anyway, are you getting my drift?
The entire journey has been one hell of a ride, but I wouldn’ t change it for anything! At Paul Mitchell the School-St Louis, I’ve meet and connected with so many wonderful people, learned a butt load of techiniques and information, and have been placed in position that have enabled me to network and catapult my cosmetology career. If you’re looking into going to cosmetology school, DO IT! It will definitely change your life for the better, if you allow it to. There have been so many things that I’ve learned while at Paul Mitchell. Some of them I share here on my Youtube Channel, but below I will give you the big ones!
“No Regrets…Just Lessons Learned”
1. Trust the Process
Have you ever seen someone complete a task in the blink of an eye, like it was nothing? They could do it in their sleep, for Pete’s sake! Well, that’s how I’d feel whenever I saw a learning leader, guest artist, or another future professional doing a hair cut or foil work. I’d think to myself, just forget it. I don’t move that fast and I don’t think I ever will.
The gag is, we are not in the same chapter+stage as they are in their career. We aren’t looking at all of the times they’ve cried, wanted to quit or completely jacked someone’s hair up. How quickly did I forget that the people I look up were once sitting in the same seat as me! There was a time they didn’t know what they were doing. Period. But they kept pushing, kept working on their craft and trusted the process. They didn’t give up!
Then, there was that one time
at band camp when a learning leader gave me the run down on how we were going to apply a color and lightener to a guests hair and the lightbulb wouldn’t turn on for me. I just didn’t get it. In my head I thought, “I don’t know why we are doing this and its just not making sense.” In that moment, I knew I was going to turn this woman’s hair green.
But, I trusted the process, applied the root color, weaved in some hightlights and low lights, and left the toner on until I was purple. Long story short, she loved it!
I said all of that to say, while in school I learned that it doesn’t matter how easy it is for someone else to do something, how long+tedious things seem, or how high the montain is to climb. Just trust the process and see where it takes you. You may just be surprised.
2. Take the Chance
During my time at Paul Mitchell, I signed up to work at a few events. When you sign up to do an event, you are either cutting, styling, or applying makeup. The very first event I participated in was the AHA Womens Conference. I remember thinking when I woke up that morning, “Oh crap. What was I thinking singing up for this?!?” Now, I was nervous AF but I still took the chance.
Because I decided to take the leap of faith and work the event anyway, I was able to meet some very amazing women and hear their empowering stories. I got to curl hair for some pretty important people and did makeup for a well respected author and also a CEO of a local organization. The highlight for me was when one of them tagged me in an instagram post and even asked what products I used on them and what else I’d recommend for them. I was SHOOK!
Another huge chance I took on myself was applying for the Professional Beauty Association BEACON Awards. If you aren’t privy to the cosmetology world, you may not know what it is. But to keep this brief, its a contest that all U.S. cosmetology students submit pictures of their work to get picked to attend an amazing conference, the NAHA Awards and the ISSE hair show.
I didn’t know if I would get accepted. Heck, I didn’t even have the funds to purchase my flight to even get my butt to Long Beach (see above: I was too busy going to school day in and day out, so I was
pretty broke waiting for my financial breakthrough).
Anywho, I took it one step at a time. I applied and got accepted. I paid the $150 for my conference ticket and prayed daily. A few days before the flight, I took a chance, asked the school+family with help with my flight, and God made a way for me via my support system. My life has forever been changed. I met so many celebrity stylist, salon owners and other students that I hope to keep in touch with. This chance I took even opened doors for me to landing a few job offers in several salons. It’s truly amazing what can happen when you decide to just go for it!
Related Post- Life Update: I started Cosmetology School
3. Believe in Yourself
Believing in myself was one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while in school. I can’t say it came easy. Being transparent here, but I do suffer from time to time, dealing with self doubt. A guest would come in and show me a picture of a hairstyle they would want and I would immediately tense up with fear. Ummm, this looks so complicated. There’s no way I will be able to pull this off. In the beginning, I just didn’t have enough faith in myself to not mess things up!
One day I just decided to go for it! I told myself that the next person that sits in my chair, I am going to just have faith in myself and do it. I practiced more on my doll, asked my teachers to check my work. Rinse and repeat. It was after all of this practice and building myself up that I started to see results and felt more comfortable telling myself, “You got this!”
And the funny thing about that is, the more I believed in myself and expressed that inside out, others started to believe in my also! People would come to me and ask for help, guidance, and even for me to do their hair!
So, I said all of this to say BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR TALENTS! It doesn’t matter if the odds are against you or if things seem impossible. Tell yourself you can do it and speak that ish into existence!
4. Be Open and Optimistic
Another huge thing I’ve learned during cosmetology school is being open and optimistic. Always be willing to embrace change, constructive criticism, and whatever obstacles that may come your way. The reason I say this is because you will attract whatever energy you put out.
If you go into a situation being a “resistor” as Paul Mitchell the School calls it, then you will most likely have a negative experience. Being optimistic will attract positive outcomes, minimize stress, and also better your health.
Spending every day at school from sun up to sun down can get old…FAST. I quickly noticed the difference throughout the day when I have an open mind vs being a negative Nancy. Your classmates and the guests sitting in your chair can also pick up on vibes. And all because you decided to throw your optimism out of the door, the experience for everyone suffers.
I’ve learned to accept whatever obstacles + opportunities that come my way and tell myself, “things will be ok.” And you know what? Things actually turn out pretty well when I have this mindset!
5. Always Say Yes
After signing up for school, I remember going to orientation and listening to one of the Financial Aid recruiters giving some advice. I later learned that this “tip” would be a current theme throughout my time here. The tip was to “Be a Yes Person.” What does that mean? Essentially it means to always say yes. If an opportunity presents itself to you, despite it being appealing to you or not, take it!
This one tip has changed my entire life! It ties in to my previous tip, but it’s so important that I felt it deserves its own recognition. When you make the decision to always say “yes” to opportunities, it will not only open doors for you, but also shine a positive light on yourself. You quickly become the go to person and the first name to come to mind when a task + opportunity comes up.
I’m not sure if you are side eying me at this point thinking, “Vera, so you’re telling us to just let people use me and to do whatever they ask?” No, that is not the case! Never do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or that you know is not right or ethical. But if it is something you aren’t sure you’d like or are capable of doing, DO IT ANYWAY!
When you’re in cosmetology school, you will either be workin on a live guest or playing around on your doll head. I harassed the front desk and alway said YES to them. I did this even if it was an appointment I really wasn’t interested in taking. In turn, my name would be one of the first to pop up in their head when scheduling appointments. I was very blessed and fortunate to almost always have a full book of appointments during the week and I was also seen as being a team player. That’s a win win right?
6. Be Helpful
Theres something to be said about being helpful. I’ve noticed that when I help other people out, it makes me feel better. I guess you can say thats sort of a selfish motive, but I genuinely enjoy helping others. I promise. But while I as at the PBA Beacon Conference, one of the speakers mentioned a study that showed that helping others improved your self-esteem and self worth. It slowly changes the way your brain is wired.
So I did a little reflecting on my actions and behaviors while at school and just in life in general and she is right. Helping others did make me feel a lot happier. On the plus side, the person on the other end of the good deed got some much needed help!
I also found that when I did small, unsolicited acts of kindness and helped other girls at school 1.) they would also return the favor and help me when I needed 2.) I often times wouldn’t have to ask for any help and they would just volunteer to help me and 3.) They thought highly of me and always had nice things to say about me.
All in all, its nice to help out fellow humans out. While that seems like common sense and something you don’t need cosmetology school to know, this is where I really sat down and reflected on the impact being helpful to others really is.
7. Look the Part
Whew Chile. Have you ever been shopping at the grocery store and been approached by someone trying to sell you something that they don’t “look” like they need to be selling? This is when “looking the part” goes wrong.
I will also be honest and say this used to be me often times. Of course I blog about a little fashion here, a little fitness there, and feel like I may know a thing or two. But after hearing a Salon owner who came in to give us advice about the industry, I knew I had to make some changes.
She really spoke to me when she touched on working in the beauty industry and how you need to look the part and also look like the people that you want to attract. So, I went back to wearing my makeup and making sure it was on point every day. Do you know what happened? People started asking me, “who did my makeup?” And I would kind of get offended and say, “Me!” Like geese, don’t you know I do makeup?!?! But honestly, how would they know that if I don’t look the part. Shortly after that, I had people randomly asking me if I can do their makeup.
Going into cosmetology school, I knew color and blending would be something I’d want to specialize in. I got a few foil work appointments here and there (we will touch more on this topic in a future post) but I wanted more. I decided to put to use the handy tip the salon owner gave us and wore my ice blonde and balayage blonde wigs more. I’d get complements from so many people about my hair and inquiries on how they can book an appointment.
Next time someone asks you if you can do something or would like to, just say yes! Take the opportunity and see where it takes you.
8. Track Your Progress.
I have heard of tracking progress in weightless journeys, but though to apply the same tactic to hair. Some of your favorite instagram gurus don’t alway share how long it took to perfect their craft. This can be a bit discouraging sometimes. I have learned that by tracking my progress and recording how long it takes me to complete a cut or color that I can motivate myself. This give me insight on where I need to improve and also my strong points. I can take this I can really sell myself to salons when looking for employment.
But back to the bigger picture here. When you document your work and track your progress you can see the growth right before your eyes! It gives me the encouragement to keep pushing and assures me that I am not remaining stagnant. If you are brave enough to post your work, your guests can also see the growth and improvement for themselves. This could potentially increase chances that they will book an appointment with you. I’ve learned that someone will sit in your chair based on who you are as a person and how passionate you are about your craft over skill alone.
9. Always Be Prepared
I will be the first to say that I am chronically late to everything in life. I’m not trying to brag here because this isn’t cute. LOL. I didn’t realize the severity of being late and not prepared until a guest artist came to our school and shared his story.
Dean Banowetz, a celebrity makeup artist, came to our school to speak with us about his journey in the industry. One of the biggest things that touched me during his speech, was his when he talking about how being late effected him. I don’t want to tell his full story, that’s his job. But, his tardiness essentially caused him to lose out on clientele and he had to watch as someone’s worked with his client.
Hearing things form another person’s experiences and their clients perspective really helped me. Also being on the other side as someone offering s service. When someone is late for an appointment, it can really mess up your entire schedule. I didn’t really thing about that back when I used to be a customer or patient. Some people run a really tight ship and cannot affordable to be waiting 10-15 minutes passed the appointment time. And it looks bad on you, as a professional, when you show up late to service someone.
Since then, I have been making punctuality a priority and have gotten compliments from clients whose hair I don’t even do (click here to see some of my photography and video work) on how my preparedness and punctuality has really set me apart from other people they have worked with. That really meant a lot to me and further confirms just how important this things are.
10. You Will Cry
I don’t think it’s the excess hormones from being surrounded by a bunch of females, (sorry to all your gentleman cosmetology students) that gets the waterworks going. I think it’s simply the huge commitment that cosmetology school takes, along with learning something knew and sometimes difficult that brings on the pressure and the tears.
This isn’t simply chemistry experiments where it’s not that bad if we mix too much solvent in our solute (can you tell I’m a bit of a nerd yet?). When we have a guest in our chair, this is a REAL LIVE HUMAN BEING. What if we mess up or their hair turns green? What if smoke starts rising into the air from the foils on this woman very head. The shit is nerve wrecking!
It will be ok. Take a chill pill and calm down! Luckily, most problems can be resolved if you mess up, AND it’s still ok to cry about it. You’re a human after all and you have feelings. Moreover, when people come in to get their hair done my a student they generally know what they have signed up for. They also have to sign a release waiver.
Also, they will tell you that anything that is everything will go wrong and happen to you while you’re in cosmetology school. I honestly feel like that’s just life, sis. The fact that you’re in school four about 35 hours a day with no pay doesn’t make it any better. But you problems will not last forever and the 1500 hours, or however many your state requires will fly by as well. Don’t be surprised or think life is over because you have a nervous breakdown. Its expected but know you will make it through!
11. You Will Mess Up
The biggest mistake you could make while in cosmetology school, or in life in general, is be too hard on yourself. You are not just in school to get your 1500 hours and your license. You are there to make mistakes and learn from them.
I quickly knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for me when I had to wrap a perm. Oh My GOODNESSS! I could do a few roller sets here and there but I wanted my perms to be wrapped to perfection. Then there was cutting. I had not knowledge of cutting hair AT ALL when I started school. The only cutting experience I had was from a bob I made while watching a tutorial from the University of Youtube.
Here I am 1400 hours later and I feel A LOT more comfortable with messing up! Why? Because I’m not perfect and I have to start somewhere. Nowadays change is rapid and new techniques and I deals are always being created. So never stop learning and allow yourself to make mistakes…which leads to my last and final thing I’ve learned in cosmetology school! (Shout out to all of the troops that have made it this far…I know this is a long post.)
12. Allow Experiences to Help You Grow
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of my long ass post LOL. If you didn’t take away any golden nuggets form this blog entry, please take this one with you. Any and everything that you go through in life can either make or break you.
Please make the decision to find a positive message from the experiences that life brings your way. I have definitely had both ups and downs while in cosmetology school. In the process I tried to really do some soul searching and have decided to not allow things to upset me as much as they used to and to find the message + meaning in situation so I can grow from it.
I sincerely hope and pray that each and every one of you reading this post will at least attempt to make the same decision. Instead of allowing things to upset you, discourage you, or anger you allow it to help elevate you! Make it make sense! And let it prepare you for the next thing life throws at you.
Thank you so much for taking time to read my message to you all!
I think that a lot of these things can be applied to anything in life. Saying yes does open doors and opportunities, and even if it takes you out of your comfort zone, it also gains you confidence and experience.
Wow! I can totally relate. I have signed up for events to work and thought omg why am I doing this but in the end I come out better for it. You learn so much and the scared feeling is good for growing.
These are amazing and they apply to almost everything. Love the you will mess up but you will learn from your failure. Amazing.
Thanks for sharing. I think my sister will love to watch, I bet you. she’s into everything about beauty.
Such an awesome experience you’ve gain here. A very worth reading article that everybody can observed and be guided by these things.
Congratulations on finishing! These are all such great lessons learned and can be applied to so many aspects of life.
Thank you for sharing your experience. Your journey will be a big part in your life and it will help you grow.
What a great journey to study in a cosmetology school. Glad that you were able to learn new things. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful experience.
I love this so much. There’s a learning experience in everything and the lessons are priceless.
These are great tips on how to do anything in life really.
Loved reading your post. The things you’ve mentioned here are relevant when signing up for any school. Especially liked your strategy of always saying yes and how this gave you more hands-on experience. It’s not just about completing a course in cosmetology, rather about learning more and getting more exposure.