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Pros and cons of an internship, and your experience.

As a beginning Artist/Stylist, I sometimes am impatient with interning. What are the pros and cons of starting with an Internship as opposed to not?
If you did an Internship, how long did you intern?
I am curious to hear from our Overseas members compared to the Members from the U.S.

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 I believe that hairdressing is a craft, and there are stages to a craft.

After getting basic licensing as required by the state, the journey begins. It starts with apprenticeship, this is a time when you are learning to work with your hands and learning to communicate with clients.

Apprenticeship only works if you have a mentor or a group of dedicated mentors with a clear path for you to follow. So the mentors need to have this all mapped out and present it objectively. If you skip this stage, I find that you will always be lacking some of your foundation. As an educator I encounter this nearly every week and can only say it is worth it to build that foundation at the beginning rather than, having to go back at a later date. 

I agree with Gerard,as an educator and artist/stylist myself, I find that my internship days were indispensable to building a strong foundation for my career advancement. 

There are four mental stages to learning any new skill ( the theory was developed at Gordon Training Institute by Noel Burch and also attributed to Abraham Maslow) the stages are mapped out below:

Stage One/ Unconscious Incompetence,this is the stage where individuals are unaware of how little they actually know when they are first learning a new skill. They are blissfully ignorant about the skill required on the subject in question.They don't know what they don't know.

Stage Two/ Consciously Incompetent ,this is the stage where the individual realizes how very little they know or they have a shallow understanding about the subject or skill they are interested in.This is also the stage where the individual begins to comprehend what new skills and knowledge they need to acquire to have mastery over the subject they are interested in advancing in.

Stage Three/ Conscious Competence, once the realization that learning certain skills will be required in order to achieve mastery over the subject of interest , the individual begins to concentrate on the performance of these new skills. This is where time and practice of the skill come into play.While concentrating on the performance of these new skills,activities or tools... The individual will find that skill or tools will eventually become automatic.

Stage Four/ Unconscious Competence, Eventually the skill will be utilized without the individual being consciously aware or having to think through the process beforehand.

This is the objective to reach this level of understanding or competence over a new skill.
In my opinion,this is where real innovation and creativity begin to emerge in the individual who is consciously seeking mastery or competence in their desired field.

I also agree with Gerard. In order to grow, you need to start with the right foundation, otherwise you will never be able to reach your true full potential. Interning is one of the most valuable experiences you will have in your career and one that should not be taken lightly. Observe closely and learn something new every single day! #JonReymanPro

I also agree with Gerard. As someone who tried to avoid an Apprentuceship, I worked for four years behind the chair (after 2 years of school and assisting in a salon so 6 total) and was constantly disappointed with my work and almost always mentally crossing fingers hoping for the best when I did any clients. This was even after I had taken classes at Sassoon academy, bumble and bumble, redken, etc etc. A week long class just doesn't cut it. Once you know how to cut hair obviously classes are pivotal but the education you receive during an apprentice is an invaluable necessary step to becoming a hairdresser if you want to be good and actually know what you're doing. Again, I did hair for years before I took a step back to invest in my education so do it sooner than later or plan on being mediocre at best for the rest of your career. It might seem unattractive at first to be a support role in the salon while you're learning rather than the one doing hair behind the chair all day but I promise it's worth it.

I can't really see any con to apprenticeship. The feeling  and ownership on the day that your mentor tells you you will be going on the floor is irreplaceable. You feel as if you earned something special and the craft means something to you. You have respect for what you are doing and means something deeper to you. I will never forget that day after 2 1/2 years of apprenticeship.

I love this subject! I am an AD of a large group of salons where we have a strong internship program in place. This can take 1- 2 years, depending on the individual. I often see the impatience in several interns as they feel they're ready get on the floor within the first 6 months - Stage 1, as referred to in M Long's reply. Some interns give up at this point and find a salon where they can go on the floor straight away with no further training. The downside of this is that years later, they are either at the same level in that salon or some were disillusioned and left the business. For others, it has worked out and they are busy stylists, but they will still have a ceiling of how far they can take their careers in a salon that does not offer on going training or continuing education.

I am a stylist in Chicago but completed my 4 year apprenticeship between Dublin, Ireland and London. The first year consisted of only shampooing, cleaning, general gofer, and holding the hair sections while the stylist cut - my hands were used instead of section clips! The great thing about such an intense training is that it is survival of the fittest. Within the first year, the hard work and long hours weed out the ones who are not passionate. It is preparation for what this business is all about and the hard work that goes into being successful. Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation. At the end of the 4 yrs, it is a great sense of achievement to earn your position as a stylist, and to be totally prepared to take on your own clients with confidence.

I continued to work as a stylist in London for another 7 years before moving to the US. Sadly, I could not find a salon that would hire me without a license, so I swallowed my pride and enrolled in Beauty School. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I still had some fundamentals to learn which were never covered in my apprenticeship. Here I learned the "why" behind "what" I was doing. Theory, degrees of elevation, body position awareness, and yes - sanitation - were all new to me. It also felt great to pass my written & practical test at the State Boards!

Having had the benefit of both apprenticeship & school, I think they really need to go hand in hand. School is great for the fundamentals and I'm all for hairdressers being licensed. However, the true learning and inspiration starts in a salon with a great training program, as Gerard mentioned. And most important, the salon must be invested in continuing education once your internship is complete.

So hang in there Tristen and best of luck!

Wow! This has really opened my eyes to different realizations about interning and the gravity of my position for my future. Thinking about it as having different levels of building my craft makes putting things in perspective easier. It's more about the journey then the destination. I get a little impatient at times haha. Thank you M Long for your knowledge on the stages of mental growth. That helps me identify what stage of my internship/career I'm in and give me foresight to the mental development that approaches. I know now from the mentoring I am currently receiving, self-growth, that I'm building a great foundation. Jon Reyman, I watch with the lyric in my thoughts "...learn something new every day.", and I do. There are 12+ stylist in my salon I'm learning 72 different ways to apply a base color. I love hair, I love the industry and I want to be a great
hairdresser and take pride in my work, if it takes me a number of years its worth it to me. I'm honored to have had this discussion with everyone. Gerard Scarpaci, M Long, Jon Reyman, Alex Efstratiou, Nicholas Sansone, Susan Ford Thanks again!
I agree with all the above and am happy to see that it sounds like you are in a great supportive salon. But in terms of "cons" I would just like to add that not all apprenticeships are equal. When I assisted it was nothing like the apprenticeship of my coworkers where I now work. They have a strong bond with the people they work under and can truly go to them with help about anything. When I assisted my boss had been working for so many decades and I was told by many long terms stylists that he was not as enthusiastic about teaching new talent as he had been in the past. We were not a good fit in a lot of ways and while I learned A LOT from him, and don't want to discount that, it did take longer for me to find myself as a stylist since there had not been a clear path of learning. I assisted 9 months and in that time had only a few classes. I got much faster at blow drying, I learned how to direct people with body language, but in terms of cutting I was taught a lot of short cuts without the theory behind and for the next year found myself cutting very rough shapes and then fixing them dry.

All I am trying to say is that apprenticeships are important and making sure you are getting what you should be out of them is essential. You WILL have to work hard and do things that are really annoying no matter what, but if you look at the people a few years out of their apprenticeship and they are well on their way to success, you know that their system works.

The apprenticeship system is really effective if you are committed to education and hard work as long as its structured well.Go be a junior in London that'll sort you out.Work for an established company then come back here and clean up!Internships are jobs that don't pay by the way.There are no such positions in salons.You get a basic wage usually.


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