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Students > Articles > Building Your Career/ Meet "Idol" Intern Meagan Herrera
By Winn Claybaugh

During high school, Meagan Herrera wrote an essay about what she wanted to do with her life. Though it seemed unlikely to ever happen, the small-town Michigan teenager dreamed of owning a salon in Hollywood, California, and having her name on the billboard. Fast forward a couple of years. With just a few months until her cosmetology school graduation, Meagan won first prize in a retail contest: an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles to work on the hit TV show, American Idol.

"Dean Banowetz (American Idol's head hair stylist) came to our school to do his Hollywood Hair Guy tour, so I got to meet him before coming to California," Meagan says. "I stressed to him that this was what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be, so he invited me to stay for six days instead of two." During her trip, she talked to Dean about her future. He advised her to go home and work in a salon for six months, then come back to Hollywood as an American Idol intern. Meagan jumped at the chance, did a great job, and was offered the position as Dean's assistant on American Idol the following season.

Banowetz was delighted with her work. "There are a lot of reasons why I wanted Meagan Herrera to work with me on American Idol," he says. "She is a worker, she never complains when we have long days, she anticipates what I need when I am working. Her personality is amazing and she can get along with anyone. The great compliment for me is when another executive comes up to me and expresses how much they like Meagan. That is a direct reflection on me. She makes me look better-and what person doesn't love that?"
Meagan currently juggles a full-time schedule of part-time jobs. She's building her clientele at Capella Salon in Studio City, working at a restaurant job, and doing odd projects with Dean Banowetz during Idol's off season: "Shooting a couple of pilots with him, doing hair for the Emmys, picking up jobs here and there," she says. "I just worked with one of the Idols the other day on a photo shoot-it's really great!"
Here are Meagan's top three tips for making your dreams come true.

1. Chase your dreams. Don't ever give up.
Meagan believes, "If it's what you've always dreamed of, nothing should ever stop it from coming true. The money won't always be there, you and your family won't want to say goodbye, but somewhere you should be able to find it in your heart to chase your dreams and go for it. It's always going to be scary, it's always going to be hard, but if you want it that bad, nothing should ever stop you."

2. Take advantage of opportunities.
"If you take up all the opportunities that might come up in school, you're getting so much more," advises Meagan. "Without the opportunity to come out here for the trip, for example, I might not be here today or it might have taken a lot longer."

3. Find a mentor.
Meagan urges every future professional to find someone whose work you admire and hope that someday you can be like that person or cut hair like that person. "One of my biggest mentors right now has to be Dean," she says. "He has taught me so much about the industry, about living in LA, about life in general and the obstacles you go through. Not only did he give me this job of a lifetime, he has been an amazing mentor since I've been here."

"Everything that's happened right now is bigger than anything I ever dreamed of," Meagan says. "If I can accomplish something like this, so many people can do the same thing. The opportunity is in the palm of your hand. Just grab it and run with it!"

Look up the phrase "multi-tasking" in the dictionary and you'll probably find a photo of Winn Claybaugh. In fact, it's easier to list the few things he hasn't done (space shuttle navigator, "Dancing with the Stars" finalist) than those he has. But we'll try. Winn's an author ("Be Nice or Else," "Connecting to My Future!"), a former salon and beauty school owner and an unforgettable motivational speaker and seminar leader. He's the founder of The Paul Mitchell the School organization and heads up the monthly Masters Audio Club. He's a passionate philanthropist-lending his energy and support to

organizations like the AIDS Relief Fund for Beauty Professionals, City of Hope and Katrina Relief. Above all, he champions the growth, development and success of beauty students and stylists with all of his heart and might.

Visit the BTC Bookstore to buy all of his life-altering books and CDs. Visit his website ( for lots more from this one-of-a-kind force. And log onto each month for his new column: Building Your Career.


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