ISHPEMING - After graduating from high school, Alexandrea Larson, 20, knew she wanted to continue her education. But instead of pouring over calculus or science textbooks, when she goes to school these days it's to learn the techniques behind manicures and hair styling.
A student of the Main Street School of Cosmetology in Ishpeming, Larson is working her way through the school's program to be able to follow her long-time dream of working in a beauty salon.
"I've always wanted to since I was 7," said Larson, who is from Hancock, but staying in Marquette while she attends her Ishpeming classes. "I like looking at different people and seeing what hairstyles look good on their face... I like making people feel good about themselves."
Cosmetology students are required to take 350 hours of classroom time before they are allowed to work on the school’s floor. Here a class works on manicures. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
While in high school, Larson said she practiced styling her friends' hair and makeup. Studying in the cosmetology program, however, takes work.
Students are required to complete 350 hours of classroom work before they are able to come out to work on the school's floor, which operates as a salon in downtown Ishpeming. Working on the floor allows the students to work with customers or on mannequins as they did during their classroom work. They have to work 1,500 hours on the floor before taking the school's final exam, which they have to pass before taking the state board certification.
In addition to learning the techniques of how to style hair, the cosmetology students are also required to complete an internship in a salon separate from the school. At the end of their training, they are also required to present a business plan for their "dream" salon.
"It's kind of fun. You get to be very creative here. It's a place for people with big ideas," Larson said. She is currently in the process of putting together her own business plan.
One of the benefits of the cosmetology program, Larson said, is that the entire process takes about a year, allowing graduates to quickly move on to starting their careers.
"You get done faster, so you get to start your career faster," she said. "I'm hoping to look for a job up in Hancock or Calumet."
Having started her classes last October, Larson said she was hoping to take her state exams in early September.
In addition to looking for a job in an area salon, Larson said options for her also include working for a cruise ship or a resort, places which often employ cosmetologists.
But no matter where she ends up working, Larson said she enjoys working with people.
"Lots of creativity. There's more interaction with people," she said. "It's more of a friendly atmosphere."
For other young people considering going into cosmetology, Larson suggested enjoying the process and making sure they do their work.
"Do your homework. Make sure you're studying," she said. "Cosmetology school, you study and work hard and things come faster."
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.