Excellence in Education 2017: Best Practices from Placement Top Honorees

by Laurel Nelson | December 1, 2017
One of three internal job-posting boards at the Aveda Institute Minneapolis.
One of three internal job-posting boards at the Aveda Institute Minneapolis.

MODERN SALON Media annually collaborates with the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) for MODERN SALON’s Excellence in Education program. The purpose is to help the professional beauty school community gather, share and celebrate examples of great salon education experiences and beauty career development happening across the country. 2017 marks the seventh year of honoring schools through Excellence in Education.

Honorees are determined based on key criteria in each category and grouped according to school size or whether or not they entered as a multi-unit school or single location. Two top honorees are recognized in each category—one individual school location and a chain-school organization—and were announced at the AACS Annual Convention & Expo.

View all the 2017 Excellence in Education finalists here. 

To view top honorees in all eight categories, click here.

Individual location: Aveda Institute Minneapolis
Chain school: Evergreen Beauty College: Everett, Washington

Finding a job upon graduation from cosmetology school can be a frustrating experience—but not for the graduates of this year’s Excellence in Education honorees.

These schools aren’t just focusing on getting their students employed, but also placing them in salons where they will succeed and thrive. Students’ placement begins the moment they start school with visits to salons, career fairs, business skills classes and much more. Schools are also dedicating staff members to work solely on students’ professional development and placement.

The result? Schools are enjoying a much higher placement rate and students are happier in their new workplace.

The average cosmetology student has just graduated high school with little to no working experience. Professional skills need polishing before being hired at a salon, and school owners are prepared to do just that.

Students can expect to spend some classroom time creating a resume and cover letter and practicing their interviewing skills. With feedback from educators, they will graduate with a professional, polished portfolio and the confidence to talk to clients, salon owners and managers. Schools like the Aveda Institute Minneapolis are proud to present these students to their partner salons.

“Aveda Institute Minneapolis has worked hard to develop a curriculum that supports the technical, business, and soft skills needed to succeed in the industry,” says Nicki Dixson, student professional development manager. “We get industry employers involved in a variety of ways throughout students’ programs, such as mock interview sessions, career fairs, salon panels, advisory boards and advanced education classes.”

Mock interviews get students comfortable with the process, and some schools even invite owners/managers to participate in panel discussions, allowing students to ask questions about the hiring process.

Externship programs also allow students to build relationships with salon owners, and if all goes well, some students are able to bypass the interview process and begin working at the salon immediately upon graduation.

All of these extra classes and programs produce confident graduates salon owners are eager to hire.

Another big welcome to our new Future Professionals!! So excited for you all 😊

A post shared by Evergreen Beauty College (@evergreen_beautycollege) on

When job hunting, cosmetology students aren’t relegated to combing through Craig’s List.

Schools are posting job boards on their websites, on bulletin boards where students gather daily and on social media. Students need look no further than the friendly confines of their schools when it comes to hunting down the perfect job. And when they’re ready to graduate, an educator or administrator is there to assist them if they still haven’t found a position.

But nothing beats face-to-face time with salon owners and managers, which is why schools regularly host career fairs. Whether it’s quarterly, twice a year or even monthly, schools are coordinating these fairs to best showcase their students, allowing them to demonstrate their skills to owners and make personal connections.

“We have three graduations each year, and we couple these graduations with a career fair prior to the event," says Frank Trieu, VP of business development and industry relations at Evergreen Beauty College. “There are nearly 800 guests and 50 salons and spa professionals there to celebrate the graduates but also to connect the new talent with employers.   

“It has been beneficial to our student population because it allows the salons and spas to celebrate alongside the students, and both the students and their families are able to recognize what an incredible industry they are joining. A great relationship is built between the salons/spas and the students, which makes finding job matches even more probable.

Social-media marketing also allows students to connect with salons via searchable hashtags on Instagram and Facebook. Owners see students’ work and students get experience marketing themselves online as professionals.

Alumni Facebook groups and e-mail newsletters keep students connected to their schools after graduation, and students are always welcome to come back for career advice or placement.

For more info on Excellence in Education, visit

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