Khris, who lives in San Diego, has been in cosmetology since she was in her senior year of high school. First she was a successful stylist, then she taught cosmetology for almost 20 years. 

Now she’s looking for a career change. 

“I want to start my own consulting business for other cosmetologists, I want to teach people already in the field what I learned, and help them take their customer service to the next level,” she said. “But I also need to pay my bills while I set this up! Ideally I’d like to get a nice salary for a part-time job in tech, where I can work remotely, so that I can pay my bills as I build my business.”

When she left teaching, “I didn’t want to stop learning, so I was trying to figure out: what are some key aspects to a new phase of my career?” she said. “And Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) was one of those things that kept popping up in all of my job searches. So I decided I should look at that.”

Customer service, she said, is both the wave of the future and the key to success, “and it’s very lacking in our society right now. I think we forget how much emotion ties into what we do. Yes, you have to have the skills, in cosmetology, for example, you have to be able to know hair and how to cut, color, and style hair, but you only really succeed if you make an emotional connection with your customer, if they feel good every time they connect with you. That is what success means in every industry.”

CRM software is a key to that. “It houses everything,” she said. “It’s talking to you about how you met the client, where the client came from, how many times the client’s been there, what they have done … it’s everything. And I am kind of a closet techie, in a way, and I like technology, and I thought: all of these jobs are asking for CRM, and Salesforce seems to be the biggest one out there. So I can use those skills in my own business, and get a job doing it for a company, because it seems like every job I want is looking for people who can do CRM.”

That’s why Khris came to Calbright.

“I was looking for a free school that could help with career changes. I was doing a web search for ‘free college education,’ ‘free customer relationship management,’ and I found Calbright!” she said. “And it tied everything together for me.”

Studying at first was more difficult than she’d expected, “I was a little bumpy going from teaching in an in-person environment to learning in an online one,” she said. But she soon came to find the process fulfilling.

“I was getting check-ins from the student support staff all the time, and at first I have to say I was like ‘oh my gosh, I’ve got another email, they’re checking in with me again!’” she said, laughing. “They reached out when I felt stagnant, and sometimes it was frustrating to know that someone knew when I wasn’t getting my work done, but it was also very supportive.

And then when I started having ‘ah-ha’ moments in my course work, when I started figuring things out and having wins, they became people I could talk to about it, and it was nice to be able to celebrate with someone.”

Khris also appreciated Calbright’s drop-in tutoring, where students can get staff and faculty support without making an appointment. “At first it was a little bit daunting to have someone asking ‘how are you doing?’ ‘what do you need?’ but then it was nice to have that person there to talk to,” she said.

Khris has now completed the CRM program, and is deciding whether to take the Salesforce Administrator exam to get that credential, or to go directly into the field. If she decides to take the test, Calbright will pay for her Salesforce exam. She’s also preparing to work with Calbright’s Career Services program to find the job she wants. 

“I’m making my own plans,” she said, “but I know Calbright is on my side.”

Khris Pool