Nails 101: A Student Blog

Week 1: Shock and...Well, Just Shock

by NAILS Magazine | April 12, 2011

I was so excited for the first day of school. I made sure I had everything set out the night before. I was eager to meet the other nail techs that would be starting the same day and I was ready to get my kit. I barely slept!!

Tuesday morning I arrived extra early to calculate how long it would take to get there. Since it was the first day, we had to be there at 7:45 am compared to 8 am to help all the newbies get settled in. The first classroom I walked in had a few people doing hair on their mannequins, and the white board in the room gave directions on who was supposed to be in which room depending on last name. Luckily I was in the right room. A classmate helped me clock in and get situated at one of the tables. I watched people come in and you could tell by the looks on their faces who was new and who wasn’t. I asked the newbies what program they were taking. There were only four other girls starting that day too and they were all taking cosmetology (darn!). So when the time comes for my practicals I will be all by myself — I’m not sure whether that is a good or bad thing. After becoming acquainted, an instructor walked in and started writing rules on the board. Right after she was done, another instructor popped his head in the door and asked if there was a new student who is in the nail tech program. Turns out we nail techs are in a small cubby/room-like area for our theory class. They allow four nail techs per session so it was a good enough space for us.

What I found out is that the school just keeps going through the book over and over again and whenever you start, that’s where you start. I wonder if every school is the same way? They were in the middle of the manicure chapter, which made me happy because I would be starting with the basics. The test is on Thursday! My classmates that started before me said they were on acrylics when they started and then two weeks later, had an 80-hour test and were put on the floor to do manicures and pedicures. Weird!

After theory class, I had my freshman orientation with the four girls I had met in the cosmetology class earlier. We went over financial aid (hit a big snag with mine, not getting it at the beginning of school like I had previously thought) and school rules, etc. After that Christmas came early — we got our kits! I had to go over mine with another instructor since the nail tech kit was much smaller than the cosmo kit. From the picture, you see I’m going to have to supplement it fast! Then before I knew it the day was over. It was decent. I went home and searched to see if I can find a weekend job so we can build an emergency cushion until the aid money is received (I was told that I would get it after 300 hours — so two months basically!).

Wednesday came and after morning theory, all of the freshmen had our manicure demo. We spent the rest of the day practicing on each other — hot oil and plain. The manicure done on my hands came out nice but was ruined before I could get a picture of it due to me giving a classmate a manicure. I felt bad because she had just gotten a full set done the day before with acrylic and the instructor made her let me give her a polish change. I used up my whole mini bottle of polish remover, smudged my manicure terribly and my fingers were stained from the red polish she had on. And to make a bad day worse for her, her tips started lifting after the polish removal due to the acetone and the nails not being fully set.

On Thursday I had my first test. My instructor told me that if I received a grade below 80%, I can simply re-take it later due to me starting in the middle of the chapter. On the test I received (drum roll please!) a 96%! Oh yeah! So of course I kept that grade! After that was the pedicure demonstration with sea salt. I had the pedicure demo performed on me by the instructor since I was the freshman. I noticed a trend that I will have to keep track of while in school. The school is primarily a cosmetology school with more focus on hair. So any lesson on nails is short and quick and my note-taking has to be even quicker. My nail tech upperclassmen helped me along the way. Lisa, who is a fellow nail tech, is a God-send when it came time for me to perform a pedicure on her. She said I did really well for my first time even though I thought I had applied the polish on kind of thick. She has the utmost patience and guided me every step of the way and gave me really helpful tips. I really would be lost without her and I’m probably going to be when she graduates in about two months. Also being the only new nail tech, I have to make sure I wasn’t getting lost in the shuffle of cosmetologists. I have to make sure to pipe up when I need someone to complete a manicure on, etc. (I had to complete a hot oil manicure and all the freshman were busy clipping and styling hair and upper classmen were on the floor.) I also noticed the varied personalities —the opportunistic types, the extra helpful types, the pessimistic types, and the “too comfortable with the higher-ups” types. Like my fellow student blogger Susan said, I’m just going to stay out of it, keep my head down, and complete these 600 hours.

— Mallerie

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