So this happened today: I began what I thought was a part-time/casual job in a barbershop over Summer; but let me give you a little background to how I found myself there…

Earlier this week I was feeling confident and ambitious towards my barbering and I binge applied to all the Barbershops advertising on Gumtree with this spiel:

Hi, my name is Jarrod.
I’m a barbering student at TAFE looking for some experience. I’ve done the fundamental barbering course and can do short back and sides and zero fades well. Skin fades are more difficult. I’m only available Fridays and am willing to work for FREE in exchange for experience and supervision. I also work as a registered nurse at a nearby hospital. Please let me know if this could be a helpful arrangement for you.

My biggest weakness is my inexperience in this industry and I’m fully aware of this so when I was called back almost immediately for a start on Friday I thought I’d hit the jackpot. Foolishly, I began to dream of all the future opportunities that would fall into place on the back of this opportunity.

Seeming too good to be true I prepared myself for worst-case scenario but thought I’d give it my best effort anyway; I thought, at worst, I could make a good impression. I’d been open and transparent in my approach; I had nothing left to lose.

I rolled up to the shop ready to go; I’ve got my tools; I’m satisfied that everyone knows my limitations; the worst that can happen is that I make a good impression.

The first haircut – a skin fade – was the one I’d been dreading; I was hoping for a short-back-and-sides or a simple clipper-cut to start the ball rolling but it wasn’t to be. I managed to cut in the skin fade, however, I do not yet possess the skills to finish it to the standard that a customer will pay $50-60 for.

I knew this, the shop-owner knew this; this wasn’t a surprise for anyone. The lead barber intervened and took over the skin fade.

Another client came and sat in my chair requesting another skin fade; again, I did my best knowing that things were stacked against me. I thought to myself, surely there’s a grander plan in this situation; why would they get me in knowing my limitations?

Again, I cut the fade in being very sure to work to my strengths and do what I could to the best of my ability; my lines are sound and on-point! Again, the lead barber intervened and finished off my haircut, fading in the cut with precision and expertise.

I looked at the boss and he motioned for me to walk around the corner with him. He gave me the talk: It’s nothing personal, we just cannot have such a junior barber starting in our new shop at the moment; it’s not a good way to do business, he explained.

I said I totally understand; I stated how I thought I’d made myself very clear about where I was with my skills but there was no harm done; I then thanked him for the opportunity. I packed up my equipment; I walked out of the shop.

I found the experience very frustrating and a waste of my time.

The rest of the morning I spent walking around Redfern and Surry Hills approaching barbershops for experience; I was met with a variety of responses. Largely, the barbering community empathised with my situation acknowledging how difficult it is to get a start with limited experience; others offered me junior traineeship roles where “it’ll take you years to get on my floor because we have an exceptionally high-standard to keep”. I interpreted this as “I’ve got you ear-marked as cheap labor”. Today’s experience took the wind outta my sails some, and honestly, it’s been disappointing.

On the bright-side, a barbering friend has offered me a shop to go to to observe haircuts and ask questions about the job demands anytime; I’ve taken him up on the offer and I’ll be there around this time next week.

I’m in a good position because I can make a good income from nursing while I pursue this ambition, and today’s setback will be just that. I’m happy that I jumped at an opportunity, whilst knowing intuitively that it was unlikely to work out. The shop-owner told me to come back in another twelve months and I might just do that. A job in a barbershop is going to be very beneficial to my progress coming into 2021 but it’s not essential. I do possess the skills to do satisfactory haircuts and I have a small client base who keep returning. This time last year I’d started this pursuit and couldn’t navigate my way around a haircut to save my life. Twelve months later, I’m very comfortable on the tools, I’m confident enough to go for traineeship roles in competitive Sydney; I’m willing to experience failure to achieve my goals and I’m completely committed to achieving this.

Progress is still progress even if it’s slow.

FYI, it was my recent purchase of this Hollywood memorabilia that got me all excited about my barbering ambition. They’re now hanging in my garage-barbershop creating an excellent atmosphere. With beer-fridge in-situ, my barbershop-garage is fast becoming my favorite haunt and makes for an excellent Mancave.