Nails 101: A Student Blog

Week 2: Preparing to Work on Real Clients

by NAILS Magazine | November 1, 2010

The start of week two immediately began with changes. Our teacher was called away on a family emergency and we were going to have someone new help us finish out the week before our “Freshman Final”. The gal who stepped in was a former student who is currently working locally in the field and whose mother had once been a teacher at the school. Our theory lessons kicked off the week, which the owner of the school was happy to step in and teach. Miss Becky is nothing short of amazing. She is so encouraging and wonderful to have as a teacher. She wants everyone to succeed in school and to go on to long-term fulfilling careers. Our lessons this week were on anatomy — and who knows how many times she has taught it over the years. It was great to get this lecture from her because she knew how to make it easy to understand.


After theory we met our new teacher who had us get into practicing with the acrylic as soon as we got into class. That day, Tuesday, we were going to do our first full set on a model. My friend April came in to give me some peace of mind. She graduated from the same school about a year ago from the cosmetology program and she is also the niece of the owner of the salon where I work. She was a good person for me to practice on. While workin,g I was careful not to make the nails too thick as I didn’t want to be filling for an hour, I also had to remember to not get the acrylic on the cuticle of the nail because that could cause lifting. Ultimately, April was hoping that I would be doing an excellent job because she wanted to keep the nails on and was planning to start coming to see me regularly for fills.


The first full set that I have ever done. Thank you April for being such a great model!


I was so happy with my finished product. April loved them. It took me about two hours to do them, which I think is pretty normal for your first set. Our instructor had actually given us four hours to finish the set. By the end of the week I had done another full set and my first fill, and I was equally just as happy with those. Every set has gotten slightly better than the last. Miss Becky mentioned to me that my first set on April was an excellent start. She said as an esthetician we can sometimes have an advantage because we pay very close attention to detail already in our jobs. I have to agree with her. Maybe it is just because I already know how protocols at the school go or because I already know what is expected of me on a daily basis, but so far school is not nearly as nerve-wracking as it was when I was here for esthetics.


The second full set I have ever done. Nail polish color is OPI’s Effiel for This Color.


My classmates and I also spent a good part of our week preparing for our Freshman Exam. We had to pass with 75% or better to be released to the floor to work on clients. The test was scheduled for Friday morning; we had all morning set aside to take it. By the end of Wednesday we knew exactly what was expected of us to pass. We had to do a basic manicure on one hand, a basic pedicure on one foot, and then on the hand we didn’t manicure, we had to do a tip with acrylic, a silk overlay, a sculpted nail and just a glued-on tip with the edge blended into the natural nail. (Apparently, women who just want to have the length of artificial nails for a short period of time come in to have this service done. It is especially popular with the high school-aged group who come in before dances who don’t want the commitment of acrylic.) In addition to all this practical work, which had to be done according to very specific steps, we had a 100-question multiple choice test. The whole process was very much what would be expected of us at state board.


In addition, we were required to fill in a diagram of the nail and name all its parts, write out the steps for the basic manicure and pedicure, the steps for doing an acrylic full set, steps for sanitation and the procedure to follow if you cut yourself or your client. It was going to be a long week.


Come Friday morning we had all passed the written portions of the exam the day before and were chomping at the bit to take the 100-question test and do the practical portion. As soon as the four of us were settled in for the day we were handed the test and we had two hours to take it. We all finished it in less then an hour and we all passed with scores of 86% or better. I was very content with the 89% I received. The practical portion was a snap. Our models were other students who were not to talk to us during the exam. They could only tell us if the water was too hot for their feet or hands to soak in, or if the pressure of the massage portion (which I nailed by the way) was too hard for them. Miss Becky and our stand-in instructor graded everything. Walking up and down the aisle and hovering over us as we clipped nails, pushed back cuticles and painted nails very carefully in red. It was their goal to also give us our first taste at what the state board would be like. Our 400-hour program will be over before we know it and we will be taking a 100-question multiple choice test with the same practical we did that day in an attempt to prove that we should be licensed professionals.


The name tag I get to wear for the next eight weeks.


Before we went to lunch on Friday afternoon we were told that we all passed. My final grade on the practical was also an 89%. Our instructor showed us out to the main floor and told us to pick our stations. We were more then happy to grab our kits and claim the area that we will be working in for the next eight weeks.


Since Saturday was the day before Halloween, the entire student body was told that we were expected to be in costume and to be festive. It was definitely a sight to be seen and we couldn’t have had a more fun day to be out on the floor for the first time. I had two clients, a manicure on my friend Lauren and a fill on a lovely woman who had been coming to the beauty college for over 30 years for all her beauty needs. It had been such an amazing week, and I couldn’t believe how much was covered and how much I had accomplished. On Sunday I realized how overloaded my brain was when even after 9 hours of sleep, I still took a two-hour nap that afternoon. I cannot wait to be back at school again Tuesday. Time is flying by and I am so in love with the learning process that I am experiencing.


— Karyn

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