Tuesday, 29 September 2009

New Skills for a New Season

This story is no longer valid.

Well, spring has sprung, and, as always, a mixture of weather has accompanied the blossoms blooming and trees coming into leaf.  I could do without the cold gray drizzly day thing (although once in a while those types of days can be okay if you want to shut yourself away with a nice book), but spring itself is a reminder of things anew (and, let’s face it: without rain, plants wouldn’t grow).

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Thursday, 24 September 2009

That Time of Year Again

From about 15 September until about 20 December of each year is a time of mixed feels and emotions for me.  Personally, I am a Christmas nut.  There’s something about the lights and the carols and the tree (which has become “trees” in the plural when my partner and I moved house way back in 2005, much to his dismay) that I love.  I think if Jacqui hears me humming or singing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” one more time from about 1 November onwards, she will smack me.

As I’m typing this, though, at work, we are going through an amazing yet difficult time of year.

I have a folder of international exam applications on my desk.  Jacqui’s handed me a list with 2009 students on it a few moments ago; on it, the heading states, “Please write your name as you want it to appear on your diploma.”  It’s frightening because it seems like only yesterday when this intake started in February 2009.

As I enter students’ names into the CIDESCO or ITEC database for examinations, memories flood my mind.  Maybe the first time I read a certain student’s essay, or how excited I was that another student was going on a cruise for her honeymoon (her first cruise).  And it makes me sad to think that in, what will seem like a flash, I’ll be presenting the freshly-printed diplomas bearing their names to Noel and Don for them to sign, and, then only a matter of hours later, dressed up and in front of hundreds, reading out their names so they can, outfitted not in their everyday uniforms but in glamourous evening dresses, receive their diplomas that they worked so hard for throughout the year.

It is a truly sad but exciting time.  You see, we’ve taken a journey with these students, them and us together. We’ve helped lead them to their future career, and, once finished with us, we’re not going to see them every day.  All the good times will be only memories.  Sure, we see lots of our graduates again, but we never have that intense day-to-day interaction we’ve had with them as we had before.  The only thing I can liken it to is having dozens of cousins or daughters heading off into the big, bad world after deciding they want to move out of their parents’ place and face the world on their own.

But the experience repeats.  Like I said, it seems like only yesterday that we received their applications, interviewed those students, but the process is starting again.  We’re receiving 2010 applications.  Jacqui and I are gearing up to interview prospective students for 2010.  A new lot of faces will line these halls come February, and by late September, I’ll be back at square one with mixed feelings.

Once you are a student at the National School of Aesthetics, you join a family of thousands of others who have walked these halls, learned this knowledge, faced these assessments in the years before you.  But, after you leave, we still remember you, enjoy hearing from you.  Even yesterday, I heard from a student we had back in 1999 and another student who graduated in 1998.  (They always say, “You might not remember me…” but I usually do!)  It’s still wonderful to know what’s going on in your world.

So, with the final trials and tribulations facing our February 2009 students in the coming weeks, culminating in the wonderful graduation ceremony and ball in December, and the first trials and tribulations facing our potential February 2010 students in the coming weeks, culminating in their orientation in February next year, it is a truly mixed-bag of emotions time-of-year.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Sailing the Ocean Blue

One of the options qualified beauty therapists, nail technicians and spa therapists have employment-wise is work aboard a cruise ship.  The largest single recruiter for these positions aboard cruise ships are Steiner, a company who first put a hairdressing salon on Cunard’s Queen Mary way back in 1967 and soon thereafter aboard the Queen Elizabeth II.  Over the years, they reckon they’ve recruited over 50,000 people to work on cruise ships and land-based spas around the world.

I’ve known quite a few of our students who have gone on to work for Steiner, and all of them I’ve spoken to had a good time.  Hard work, they’ve told me, but overall it’s an experience they have cherished.  One of my closest friends, at the time in her early 50s, went to work for Steiner aboard a smaller, high-class cruise ship spent its time split between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, jetting over the Atlantic Ocean in the process.  Being on a smaller ship, the crew were obviously smaller in number, and this made their relationships with one another more like family than anything.  And that bond seems to resonate with various other people I’ve spoken to who have worked on ships.

The National School of Aesthetics has the luxury to work closely with Steiner, with holding interviews on our campus as well as distributing literature related to Steiner to people requesting it New Zealand-wide.  We also gain some perks from this by visiting spas on-board various ships docked in New Zealand and overseas, and also while sailing on some voyages, to gain insight into how a shipboard spa operates, any new technologies or techniques available, and to take this information back to interested students and staff alike.

With this relationship between Steiner and the National School of Aesthetics built strongly around trust and mutual-cooperation, to my knowledge, our students tend to be picked at a higher rate than other South Island providers.  At one point, 10% of one graduating intake applied for, and were accepted by, Steiner.  And, we enjoy hearing feedback that our students tend to be of a higher standard and calibre than students from other institutions.

So if you are seriously considering working on a cruise ship as a career opportunity, and you want some of the best training available to prepare you for that and many other career opportunities (if you haven’t already trained with us), feel free to contact us, and we’ll help you as best as we can.  Or, if you want more information on how we work with Steiner, feel free to visit the Steiner portal on our Web site.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.

When I moved from the US to New Zealand way back in 1996, I thought transporting my degree would be an easy feat.  My mind held the notion that my homeland, like many of the other nations around the world, had discussed tertiary education requirements, compared them, and made standards about recognising them when someone moved from one country to another.

I was very wrong.

One of my American friends in New Zealand had applied, when she arrived to Aotearoa’s shores, to have her US qualification recognised.  Eight years later — that’s right, eight whole years later — she was told by The Powers That Be that her US qualification wouldn’t be recognised.

She’d paid a lot of money and spent a lot of time going back-and-forth to find out the degree she struggled for four years with, put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into, would not be recognised in New Zealand.  This meant she couldn’t work in the industry she’d trained in in New Zealand unless she gained a New Zealand qualification.

She wasn’t happy about that — I doubt that many of us if we were in her situation would be — and her and her partner and their family eventually moved back to the US.

While there is a greater degree of transparency now with the world’s globalisation due to the Internet’s growing influence on our daily lives, a great deal of uncertanity still exists with transfering qualifications from one country to another.

That’s the beauty of international qualifications.  As ITEC puts it, international qualifications “are easily transportable nationally and internationally.”  They set a standard not only within a country but also between countries as well.

And the standards are recognised by industry because industry is consulted by these international governing bodies on an ongoing basis.  The international examiner comes to the school and wants to see if our students meet the requirements of their syllabus.  They are truly independent; schools like ours hold no sway over who passes and who fails.  So these are truly independent and truly international.

When a student asks me why he or she should sit international examinations, the shortest but most thoughtful reply I can come back with is, “You never know where you will be 5, 10 years down the track.”  I didn’t.  If you told the 1992-me that I’d be living in New Zealand by 1996, I would have laughed at you and maybe called you “nuts”.  But, by 1996, I was living in New Zealand, so the words ring true.

I didn’t have the luxury of an international qualification that I could transport easily between countries.  Instead of going through a multi-year process before being possibly told “nope, we don’t recognise your degree that took you four years to complete” (it’s a four year system in the USA), I decided to apply to a New Zealand university, sit the number of papers required to pass a New Zealand degree, and graduate with a degree recognised in New Zealand that way.

When you are enrolled in one of our courses, we will discuss international examinations with you: requirements, which ones offer which subjects, and so on.  Even before we start the course, even at the interview stage, we make you aware of international examinations and qualifications.  Another piece of advice: start saving the day you know you are doing the course.  This way, you’ll be prepared to invest in your future as fully as you can when you apply for international examinations a little after half-way through your training.

You don’t know where you’re going to be in the future — I didn’t — so we highly recommend international qualifications.  If you want to discuss international qualifications in more detail, please feel free to contact us at the school, or feel free to visit the Info area on our Web site for more details.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.