[Note to readers: On Monday we ran the first of a two-part series by guest-blogger Voodoolady. Today we are excited to present Voodoolady's second post, describing her experience working in the salon industry after graduating from the honors program of her cosmetology school. These are her words...]
I planned on graduating and moving into the real world. I envisioned a creative, hardworking environment - a place where determination and drive would ensure my career. I wanted to learn from professionals and progress. I had the drive and the enthusiasm.
The first cosmetology job after graduation was an assistant (shampooing, cleaning, learning). On my first day of work, my manager looked through my lunch bag and scolded me about my eating habits and weight. I saw a red flag, but I continued - knowing this had no relevance to my position at the salon.
The lunch badgering continued for a week until she exclaimed that I "obviously would not listen" to her. After speaking with the human resources department, I was told that she was the manager and accommodating her would be the best thing to do. I quit during the second week, when I was admonished about my weight in front of the salon, stylists and clients. I did not sign-on for public embarrassment.
My next position was as an assistant for a salon in Buckhead, GA. My boss referred to me as "sweetie" always; looking back I'm not sure if he bothered remembering my name. I was there early and left late. I ran errands and went above-and-beyond - until I walked in on him making-out with a client who, incidentally, was not his wife. I immediately left the room, and he let me go the next day because our 'personalities didn't mesh.' Somehow I doubt that was the real reason.
I saw a fellow student from cosmetology school walking down the street the next day. She explained that the salon industry was "too flakey" for her, and she'd gone back to her previous job in graphic design. She explained that the attention to makeup, hair, and designer dressing was not her career. After expressing her disappointment with the actual salon environment, she left - explaining that the school was unrealistic about the expectations we should have as women.
The third salon job was as a colorist assistant at an upscale salon in West Atlanta. I was let go after responding to a phone message 3 hours 'late' on my day off. The owner explained to me that working in a salon was similar to being a doctor on call, and I had to be there for him even if a call comes on my day off. This was never explained as a condition of the hire during the interview or my training.
Discouraged but still hopeful, I went to my fourth position as a receptionist. I thought maybe taking a step back and observing the industry from a different position would help me adapt to salons. I was enjoying the work and adapted quickly. My boss soon started giving me suggestions for losing weight and 'dressing better.' I was concerned; I did not want my appearance to be a factor again. After three weeks of work, I was called early before work by my boss. He told me there was a water line break and we couldn't reopen until next week. I thought nothing of it until I received a phone call from my boss's boyfriend the following Monday, informing me that I would no longer be needed in the position. The boyfriend also mentioned that the new employee worked out really well last week. So, not only had I been lied to, but the owner didn't have the courage to call me personally.
I began working on clients independently and traveling to them. Without the uncomfortable overhead, cosmetology work is fun again. I still do this work, but it is not my career. I have had to become a cosmetologist with my own agenda.