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Good Hands: Back to the Beginning

By: Annet King
Posted: June 4, 2008, from the February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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The ideal mentor obviously is someone who is successful in the profession. Your mentor may or may not be an entrepreneur. So much publicity is given to the glamour of entrepreneurialism these days, but the fact is that some people are happier and better off soldiering under someone else, at least at the beginning of their careers.

It is a common pitfall to think that you have to jump immediately into independence and open your own business. This is a bit like deciding that you’ll open your own restaurant simply because you’ve learned to make a decent omelet. The omelet is a fine start, of course, but there needs to be a bit more to the business plan than whipping up a few eggs.

Your mentor may be older than you are, although this is not necessarily the case. True mentors are happy to share knowledge, so look for mentors who participate in class, offer ideas and seem open to having their brains picked.

Once you have established mutual interest with your prospective mentor, offer yourself as an apprentice. Work beside your mentor in the treatment room, on the retail floor, at check-in and at the register. Observe and perform whatever tasks have been delegated to you—and ask lots of questions after the glowing, smiling client has left the premises. Keep a journal and write down everything that happens during your apprenticeship; review these notes weekly. You should be paid for this phase, but don’t be greedy. Forget about eBay, Heatherette, Baby Phat handbags and fab sushi dinners out for a while. Remember, there will be some pain and suffering. Be willing to put in more hours than those for which you are paid, as long as you are learning.

Be a mentor

This column, which generally is intended for the fresh hands and minds who are just obtaining their licenses, is also a call to action to potential mentors. Just as the newly licensed therapist must be in a state of keen, alert engagement, it’s to the benefit of the entire industry for you seasoned professionals to keep your antennae up as well. Pay attention when a promising new therapist asks a really good question in class. Offer your expertise generously—hopefully, that newcomer will do the same for someone else someday.