The best way I can describe externing is in a way it’s like choosing a college. An Externship offers you a chance to visit a salon, observe their practices and get a feel for whether the ambiance and apprenticeship curriculum fits your personal learning styles.
There are a few things I would recommend someone to be realistic about when externing. It would be wise to ask the following questions:
1) Do you offer an apprenticeship program, and if so, how long is it?
Some programs can span anywhere between 6 months to 2 years. And since nearly all apprenticeship programs offer only minimum wage you need to be realistic to the type of lifestyle you’ll be living during that time.
2) Does your salon specialize or do you allow your stylists to cut and color?
This pertains to where you want to see yourself in the future. You may feel your talents lay stronger in one skill than the other. Or you may want to keep your career interesting by learning both. That’s up to you.
3) What’s the average employment time of your staff?
This gives you an idea of the turn-around for the employees. If the average span is more than 3 years, it’s a good sign that the staff is happy and that clientele is growing. Anything less may indicate inconsistencies in those categories.
Those questions I feel are mandatory but you should feel free customize your questions based on your lifestyle and career path.
But I would make sure that during your apprenticeship, the salon is allowing you more duties than just the basic chores of towel laundry and cleaning color bowls. You should be allowed to do at least one shampoo and observe haircuts.
Besides all those points, also just try to enjoy yourself. Try to envision what it’d be like to come to work everyday to that particular location. Because no matter what, the place you choose should just feel right.