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Emma Carter

Hairdressing Graduate

A photograph of Emma Carter in a salon

Growing up, Emma Carter knew she wanted to become either a mechanic or a hairdresser. She went on to study both fields at UCOL, but it was hairdressing that won out in the end.

Emma came to UCOL on a Youth Guarantee Scholarship to study motorsport. After completing level 2 and 3 programmes, she spent a couple of years working in the automotive industry, but still had a desire to give hairdressing a go.

She says UCOL’s Hairdressing programmes gave her good fundamental skills and boosted her self-confidence before she began her apprenticeship.

“You obviously learn how to cut and colour, but learning how to interact with clients was a big one for me. I was so shy when I first started, but by the time I left UCOL, I could start a conversation with anyone.”

Emma says she became really interested in the science behind colouring hair and hair growth.

“Colouring is my favourite part of hairdressing. There can be such a huge transformation. I think it’s more transforming that cutting. You can go from a blank canvas to a rainbow of colour. You can kind of tell stories with colour.” 

A few weeks before finishing her studies, Emma started working at Niche Boutique Hair Salon, just across the road from UCOL’s Palmerston North campus. 

“I love it at Niche. It’s such a challenge and I enjoy meeting new people. Each day it doesn’t really feel like I’m coming to work. It’s so much fun.”

“I did everything I could to get a job straight out of UCOL because it is so competitive to get a job as a hairdresser, especially in Palmerston North. You have to go the extra mile.”

Emma says it can be a big step up going from studying to working fulltime in a salon. She recommends students get as much work experience as possible.

“I did a lot of Christmas time jobs in salons, even for free. I would volunteer at salons doing basic jobs like making coffees and folding towels. That kind of thing shows employers that you have a good work ethic. One salon ended up hiring me for one night a week, so volunteering to do those jobs can pay off.”

Emma recently achieved the milestone of passing her National Certificate in Hairdressing Level 4 exam, making her a fully qualified hairdresser. UCOL Hairdressing Lecturer Gillian Gosper acted as a model for part of the exam which involved Emma showing off her perming skills. 
Gillian before and after.jpeg
Emma-and-Gillian.jpg
“It’s great to have that ongoing support and connection to UCOL. It’s like I never really left,” says Emma.

In the short term, Emma plans to travel to the United Kingdom where she is lining up a hairdressing job. Eventually she would like to manage a salon.

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