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Emma Carter

Hairdressing Graduate

A photograph of Emma Carter in a salon

Growing up, Emma Carter knew she wanted to become either a mechanic or a hairdresser. She went on to study both fields at UCOL, but it was hairdressing that won out in the end.

Emma came to UCOL on a Youth Guarantee Scholarship to study motorsport. After completing level 2 and 3 programmes, she spent a couple of years working in the automotive industry, but still had a desire to give hairdressing a go.

She says UCOL’s Hairdressing programmes gave her good fundamental skills and boosted her self-confidence before she began her apprenticeship.

“You obviously learn how to cut and colour, but learning how to interact with clients was a big one for me. I was so shy when I first started, but by the time I left UCOL, I could start a conversation with anyone.”

Emma says she became really interested in the science behind colouring hair and hair growth.

“Colouring is my favourite part of hairdressing. There can be such a huge transformation. I think it’s more transforming that cutting. You can go from a blank canvas to a rainbow of colour. You can kind of tell stories with colour.” 

A few weeks before finishing her studies, Emma started working at Niche Boutique Hair Salon, just across the road from UCOL’s Palmerston North campus. 

“I love it at Niche. It’s such a challenge and I enjoy meeting new people. Each day it doesn’t really feel like I’m coming to work. It’s so much fun.”

“I did everything I could to get a job straight out of UCOL because it is so competitive to get a job as a hairdresser, especially in Palmerston North. You have to go the extra mile.”

Emma says it can be a big step up going from studying to working fulltime in a salon. She recommends students get as much work experience as possible.

“I did a lot of Christmas time jobs in salons, even for free. I would volunteer at salons doing basic jobs like making coffees and folding towels. That kind of thing shows employers that you have a good work ethic. One salon ended up hiring me for one night a week, so volunteering to do those jobs can pay off.”

Emma recently achieved the milestone of passing her National Certificate in Hairdressing Level 4 exam, making her a fully qualified hairdresser. UCOL Hairdressing Lecturer Gillian Gosper acted as a model for part of the exam which involved Emma showing off her perming skills. 
Gillian before and after.jpeg
“It’s great to have that ongoing support and connection to UCOL. It’s like I never really left,” says Emma.

In the short term, Emma plans to travel to the United Kingdom where she is lining up a hairdressing job. Eventually she would like to manage a salon.

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