Monday, April 8, 2013

The Real Estheticians of SF: Guest Speaking Event

That's ME on the flyer for the Open House Event at SFIEC!
Two weeks ago, I was a guest speaker at an SFIEC Open House featuring our esthetics program. I was one of five of the licensed estheticians who sat on the panel for the event. All five of us talked about why we decided to become an esthetician, how we discovered SFIEC, discussed our own individual career paths and gave some insight into the skin care industry through our own eyes.

My story as a licensed esthetician is always unique because my career never really made it to the treatment room. I enjoy learning about new industry trends, discovering new skin care products and receiving services, but my career focus has always been on the business side of the industry as opposed to touching a client's skin in the treatment room. I didn't discover my love for the world of esthetics until I was well within my 30's. Becoming a licensed esthetician was a second career for me.

Before I decided to become a licensed esthetician, I was a college student at San Jose State University. I would go to school full-time during the day and bartend four to five nights a week. Working as a bartender gave me flexibility in my schedule which enabled me to carry a full-time class load during the day. It was an easy enough job where I could go to work, do my job, get paid and go home. There was no overtime. There wasn't a whole lot of brain power required. I just had to show up, be good to people, count cash and make tasty adult beverages. I never took my work home with me until I started to blog about my nightly bartending experiences. Most importantly, bartending provided me with a healthy financial living that allowed me to complete my college education all the way through graduation.

The problem with bartending is that it's easy and financially lucrative. When I graduated from SJSU, I continued to bartend four to five nights a week because the money was so good. I didn't have any motivation to pursue a career using my college degree. I couldn't fathom leaving behind my fun and easy job that I was good at and made a lot of money doing. If I wanted to "use my college degree", I'd have to take a full-time, entry-level job making less than half the money I was making bartending. It didn't make financial sense to me.

Fast forward eight years later, my career started getting stale. I had worked in all of the different types of bar settings a bartender could work in: local pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, live music venues, sports bars, catering events and even a stripclub. Even though I launched my writing career online by documenting my bartending experiences on a blog, I couldn't help but feel that there was something missing from my career. I was starting to get tired of working late nights, every weekend and on every single holiday. The idea of having a company pay for things like health insurance, overtime and holiday pay sounded extravagant. There were only so many drinks I could make, so many conversations I could have with bar patrons every night and countless Last Calls before I realized that I was getting bored. I needed more from my career.

A good friend of mine sat me down and asked me if I had ever thought about being an esthetician. Turns out I had way back in 1999. While I was preparing to move last year, I found an old magazine article that I had ripped out of a Cosmo Magazine over ten years ago. I had scribbled on the article itself a few notes about a local beauty school and the required hours to become a licensed esthetician. I never knew why I didn't pursue becoming an esthetician at that point. My friend who sat me down for the career heart-to-heart had come from a family of cosmetologists and estheticans. He was very familar with the industry and knew that I could easily make a good living doing it. He told me that I should become an esthetician because I have really nice skin and could use my bartending/people skills to help build up a healthy clientele. Sounded easy enough. I was intrigued. A few days later I began my search for beauty schools in my area.

When I first started school, I thought I wanted to be an esthetician who performed services in a medi spa. I wasn't opposed to doing waxing services either. Half way through my program, I discovered that I loved products. I loved learning about products. I loved using products. I loved talking to people about products. I loved researching products. I loved selling products. My love for products, in addition to my previous blogging experience and love for social media made me rethink my career path. I realized that I didn't want to be an esthetician working in the treatment room. I quickly redirected my focus towards the business side within the skincare industry. This was also the point at when I decided to create my own skincare blog, documenting my transition from being a bartender to going to beauty school and eventually working full-time within the skincare industry.

After I graduated from SFIEC, I started working for Sephora in the corporate office full-time. Here, I gained invaluable experience of working with clients on a daily basis on anything thing from product education to customer service. I quickly advanced in my role and moved up the corporate ladder within my department. A year and a half after working for Sephora, SFIEC contacted me about a possible job opportunity. After my amazing experience as a Future Professional in the esthetics program at SFIEC, I knew in my heart that I would end up back at the school as a staff member in some shape or form.

Here it is a year into my role at SFIEC, I'm now the Brand Leader and Social Media Manager for the school. My role at the school has transitioned and morphed into so many hats over the last year. I've been working at the service desk, managing the salon floor, teaching guest services classes, running the annual Caper event for the cosmetology students, been a guest speaker to the Future Professionals on social media, direct the student-run social media team at the school and have become a published writer within the skincare industry.

Like I said, my story as a licensed esthetician is quite unique. I hope that its somewhat motivational for anyone who has an interest in esthetics, but doesn't necessarily want to work in the treatment room. My career track is proof that you can make your career into whatever you want it to be with a lot of hard work, dedication and by simply listening to what makes your heart sing.


  1. I enjoy your post, just curious how were you able to get into sephora corporate? Did you previous degree from university help or was it just having your esthetician license that you were able to get in?

    1. I heard about the job opportunity with Sephora corporate while I was still in beauty school. It was a networking opportunity that I took an advantage of. I'm so happy that I pursued the opportunity. I do have my college degree from San Jose State. Although I don't think having a college degree or my esthetician license was a requirement for me to get the job, having them certainly didn't hurt. I think as long as you either had your college degree, an esthetician or cosmetology license and/or retail experience within the beauty industry, you could be a worthwhile candidate for the position.

    2. I wrote a blog post about the Beauty Advisor job opportunity at Sephora (this is the same position I took right after beauty school) that was available for the holiday season last year:

      In the post, I cover all of the job requirements for anyone wanting to apply for the position. Sephora typically hires a bunch of Beauty Advisors for the holiday season starting in September and October of each year. Check back with Aerotek around those times if you're interested in becoming a Beauty Advisor. Good luck!