Were you ready for your first year out of beauty school?

“Y’all ready for this?!”

(Ya know, like that song from Space Jam...)

...Okay, but are we? Do we feel confident and prepared after we finish school and begin working in the salon?

My first year was certainly very trying (and many years after, let’s be real). So many obstacles! But that experience teaches you so much about yourself and what kind of hairdresser you really want to be. No matter how prepared you feel, the reality is that excellence as a pro comes with time and personal experience.

I asked a few hair friends to pay it forward with some of their personal learnings in cosmetology school, their first year in the salon, and advice for starting in this industry. Because let’s face it, it’s not always what you see on Instagram. Or shall we say “instaGLAM” ... (but that’s a subject for another day.)

First things first:

What was it like after your first year out of cosmetology school when you were finally licensed and working in a salon?

“I assisted my first year working in the salon. It was scrubbing floors, cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping, folding towels... all the glamorous things. My boss was a little intimidating and I cried on my way home, a lot. But I’m pretty sure Cinderella felt the same way and she’s a princess with nice shoes so it works out in the end.“ -- Makenzie

“I started as an assistant in a prestigious salon in Providence. It was both overwhelming and magical all at the same time.” - Jessica

“Way more fun and free than being in cosmetology school!” -- Lauren (ok, that’s just my personal opinion)


What is your best piece of advice for the first year working in the salon?

“Hustle hard but have patience. Nothing is going to happen overnight, and it’s certainly not going to happen without effort. Hustle to get your clients to pre-book, hustle to learn as much as possible, hustle to bring clients in, hustle to sell product! Your hard work will pay off in the long run.” - Makenzie

“Stay humble and remember that you DON’T know it all. Don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers for advice/help ” - Ashly

Last but not least:

What would you say to someone just starting cosmetology school?

“How good you were in school has nothing to do with your career afterwards. I just wasn’t great at school. But here I am now, a successful salon owner!” - Sarah B.

Ask “WHY”: Ask why you’re over directing you’re layers, why you’re removing that “bulk in the haircut”, ask why/how the violet neutralizes yellow. Learning WHY will help understand exactly what you’re doing. - Makenzie

As someone who works both in the salon, and as an educator in a cosmetology school, my best pieces of advice for beginning school or your career is this: Show up ready to learn, pay attention and just absorb EVERYTHING -- even if you don’t know what the hell your teacher is talking about. You may need to hear it a million times, a million different ways before it clicks for you - and that is okay.

We all learn differently. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Find someone in this “hair world” that will inspire you and keep you learning. Oh and keep your kit clean and organized! Easier said than done I know, ha! In the end, you must nurture every change - every up, every down - and continuously evolve and you will find happiness in this incredible and ever-changing industry you (we) chose to be part of.

KEY PEEPS featured here :

Sarah, Salon Owner

B Suite Salon



Jessica, Salon Owner

Ello Pretty Salon and Beauty Loft

Providence, RI


Ashly, First-year hairdresser

Jamestown, RI


Makenzie, Hairdresser

Ello Pretty Salon and Beauty Loft

Providence, RI


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