Life After High School: The Apprentice

Are you in high school wondering what your next move should be after graduation? Maybe you’re currently applying for university or trying to snag your dream internship? Perhaps you’ve been out of school for a little while but now you’re trying to decide whether to go back? If any of that sounds like you, keep reading.

Today we’re talking about Frank, a millennial who discovered his passion at age 15. Now, he’s giving his take on “the hustle” and what it takes to succeed. Keep reading to learn Gary’s take on Frank’s story and his advice for future hustlers with a dream. 

Apprenticeship

Frank is a millennial who just turned 31 this year. Rather than attend a formal university or trade school, Frank networked his way into an apprenticeship at just fifteen years old. He’s spent the last fifteen years cutting hair, perfecting his craft, and growing his client base. Then covid happened. 

How has covid affected the cosmetology industry? 

“Everyone’s trying to make do. It’s just you [don’t] have new clientele walking in anymore. You don’t have random people just walking in and waiting for a haircut. So it’s difficult to build a business. People aren’t able to look at every barber to see what kind of styles they have and what they would like in a haircut. 

It’s a mess right now.”

How did your relationship to school impact your decision to become a barber?

“I would focus but dealing with your peers…dealing with ‘oh, let’s do this after school’, it interferes  with your studying. I think once you get older, and progress through your high school career, you’re less focused on studying and more on having fun. I knew what I wanted to do though; I started cutting hair when I was 15 years old.

 It started off as a little hobby, then I thought wow, maybe I could do this as a career.  I had been getting my haircut at lots of different barber shops, so, you know, you talk to your barber. You ask, how much [a barber] can make and things of that nature. I found out I can make a lot of money cutting hair. That was my thought process, if I build my clientele I can make more money than someone who attends college. 

Although you mostly learn on the job,  I made the choice after high school to go to cosmetology school. It teaches you how to pass the licensing exam.” 

Did your high school have cosmetology courses?

“They did but you had to be a “model student”.  A teacher had to recommend you and your parents had to agree to it. I couldn’t find a teacher to recommend me, so I didn’t get that opportunity. However, there was another program close by so I went there, during electives, instead.”

How did you build your client base? Social media?

Word of mouth is better than a social media following. You have to network and be social.  Social media is good to showcase your skills, not build a clientele–unless you’re in an area that’s underserved (i.e. “little to no word of mouth”), then you can build on social media. Still, you have to make sure your craft is excellent. 

Although, social media may be a good place to start. In the beginning, you could be very aggressive with it. Instagram helps you get clients, then they should give you the word of mouth [clients]. It’s like building an Ebay account. You can’t have a social media following without any reason to follow you. I know someone, I won’t say who, who only had a few clients. Then she recycled each photo until her client list began to grow. 

It  takes years to build a good, tangible client base. Your  location matters too. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to a profitable business. It’s definitely not just social media. 

Do you think you’ll continue your career post-Covid?

I love cutting hair, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve been in the business for 15 years, it takes a toll on your body. Maybe I’ll switch industries. I could be a business owner, and have my own shop. It’s an easy business to run in my opinion–but it’s just a headache. I think if I did want to open a business I wouldn’t need a college degree. I would just need to know the right people. 

What do people pay for when they pay for school?

Just like any product or service, you’re paying for the name. It’s the same thing as anything else. Just because it says Louis Vuittion, it’s more prestigious. In the end, all that matters is if you work hard. If you work hard you’re gonna get it, that’s how you succeed. 

“I’m not going to take education completely out of the equation, because education is important. But, getting a master’s or a doctorate degree…” [there isn’t always a strong financial return on your investment]. Especially when you factor in student loans. Sometimes “uneducated people” , those who only know a trade, can make more money than those with multiple degrees. 

Plus, Covid. Everyone learns differently and no one wants to sit at home on a computer. 

Gary, how can people do what Frank did if they live far away from their dream industry? 

Get a boring job for a year, save every dollar, then travel to where you need to and live rough until you don’t have to anymore.  

People throw around the word “dream” too easily.  Like, they’re talking about getting an ice cream cone down the street.  My dream is this, but you’re not willing to sleep on the couch and eat Mcdonalds for a year? You’re telling me it’s your dream and you’re not willing to get a job you don’t like, maybe bartending in the worst bar in town, to save up money to buy a ticket to LA? 

I’m not assuming anybody has any money but if you have a dream, work for it.  Save up to afford a plane ticket and the first week in a hotel.  DM every person who lives in LA to find one person who will let you sleep on their couch for six months. Or a friend of a friend–dreams require doing everything. 

Don’t tell me you want to be a movie star while being unwilling to pay the sacrifices to get there. What do I recommend? Lock into your mind that the next five years of your life are gonna be garbage. You’re not gonna have luxurites. You’re gonna live real raw, but good new, you’re gonna be chasing your dreams. That’s the best. 

Resources:

How To Land Your Dream Job With No Experience 

What Are Apprenticeship Programs And How Do They Work?

How To Become A Successful Barber (A Guide)

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