Finding a Fresh Start
George Brown helps shape the ambitions of an esthetics fan into the exciting career of an esthetics pro
A self-proclaimed skin care enthusiast, Michelle Robinson took an interest in skin (and how to keep hers looking its best) from a young age. But it wasn’t until she was laid off after a series of office positions that she decided to pursue this interest as a career – with the help of Second Career, an Ontario government cost-sharing grant that helps laid-off and under-employed individuals retrain for jobs in growing fields.
“I always wanted to be in the esthetics world so, when I got laid off, I was like, ‘This is a sign,’” Michelle says. “That’s when I put everything into gear and started the process.”
Michelle had to research three schools as part of her Second Career application. She was looking for a learning environment that resembled the ideal spa – a place that was warm and welcoming, featured the latest tools of the trade and provided clients with treatments and self-care knowledge that was more than skin deep. She found a school that was just that as soon as she walked into the School of Makeup and Esthetics at George Brown College. One visit, she says, was all it took to convince her to enrol at the college.
“George Brown is very up to date, their spa is beautiful and clean, and there was no comparison in speaking to staff,” remembers Michelle. “The communication was very friendly, and I felt very comfortable. Then, on top of that, the teachers were so down to earth. It was the people and the environment – there was no comparison. I knew, if the classrooms and tools were up to date and everyone was this friendly and knowledgeable, I’d learn the most current services and relevant knowledge in a supportive environment.”
Michelle chose to pursue our Esthetician and Medical Spa Therapist Certificate. Since this comprehensive certificate covers the full range of spa services, medical esthetics and industry business knowledge, she soon realized that it would provide a broad range of skills that would help her access an equally broad range of professional opportunities once she graduated.
“When I came into the program, I knew I loved skin care,” Michelle shares. “But, doing things like facials or waxing or nails, I started loving that too. Also, a lot of people are not prepared for the medical aspects, so it’s an advantage that I’m trained as a medical esthetician. I would tell people not to limit themselves because this field is so big and this program really ties it all together.”
Beyond the wide range of topics covered in class, students also get valuable industry experience. Michelle says the extensive amount of practical training she got ensured she was confident and career-ready.
“I’m a hands-on and visual learner, but I couldn’t have done it without George Brown. I can always refer back to the skills I learned from George Brown because they set such a solid foundation.”
“You have days when you are in the class learning theory, and you have practical days when you are working on each other or models,” explains Michelle. “But you also have clinic days where they offer services to the public. I know it’s a school environment, but it’s very professional. You also get to work at the front desk and learn that part of it. It was a great teaching environment, and it’s actual work. So you’re graduating with experience you can put on your resumé.”
The training and real-world experience that Michelle received through her George Brown certificate meant that she was able to secure a position as a spa therapist at a downtown luxury spa even before she had completed her courses.
“My last class was May 18, 2017, and I was hired May 4,” Michelle says. “My boss was very impressed with the way I picked up on the services so quickly. I’m a hands-on and visual learner, but I couldn’t have done it without George Brown. I can always refer back to the skills I learned from George Brown because they set such a solid foundation.”