After studying Law at the University of Reading, Ayesha took a gap year to travel and then completed the Legal Practice Course at The College of Law. After working as a paralegal for a year and a half, she decided to leave law and pursue journalism – something she’d always been interested in since writing for her uni paper, but never thought was an option as a future acareer. After interning for eight months, she secured her first permanent role as Beauty Assistant for health and beauty website, Get The Gloss. She’s been with the site for just over five years now and has worked her way up to Beauty Writer and now Senior Features Writer, where she writes daily features on all things beauty and wellbeing. She also writes two columns for the website – one called Who, What, Hair on hair care and Not Fair, that focusses on beauty for women of colour.
We had the chance to sit down with Ayesha and ask her about her career story.
How did your career take off?
I think the most pivotal moment for me was when I was made a permanent member of Get The Gloss 5 years ago. Up until then, I’d been interning – first with the beauty team at Grazia, then at Vogue and then at Harper’s Bazaar. I really enjoyed them, but each was for a finite time and the absence of a regular income was giving me some cause for concern. With roles proving few and far between, the job offer that I received during my internship at Get The Gloss was a relief to say the least – it had made leaving law worth it.
What made you take the leap and leave behind everything you’d worked through university for?
I couldn’t see myself doing it in the next five years. Or if I did, it wouldn’t have made me happy. Pursuing law as a career is a huge commitment and considering how competitive it is, I feel like you really have to know that you want it to do it long-term. Thankfully though, the degree itself gives you a huge amount of choice – more than I realised at the time – and although I didn’t end up pursuing it directly, it actually gave me a good foundation and a point of difference to other applicants when it came to internships.
What’s been the most challenging moment in your career change?
The uncertainty. It was risky leaving a career path that I spent so much time and money on for something that wasn’t guaranteed.
How do you think your professional training is put to use in your current job?
I’ve noticed a lot of parallels between law and journalism – having good communications skills and strong attention to detail are a requisite for both in my experience, as well as being able to condense long pieces of information into digestible chunks. I think my legal background gave me good organisational skills too – keeping to tight deadlines is another aspect they share (although the consequences of missing legal deadlines are significantly worse!).
What advice would you give to a) your 16yr old self b) your 20yr old self?
To my 16 year old self, I’d say that what you do at uni doesn’t mean that you have to follow a certain career path afterwards. The digital media boom for example happened extremely quickly and what’s available while you’re at school could be a completely different story 10, even 5 years on.
To my 20 year old self, I’d tell them to chill out a bit. I put myself under too much pressure at uni and while I walked away with good results, I’d make sure to reassure them results aren’t everything and a bit of life experience helps shape your priorities and job outlook.
How do you keep yourself motivated? What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy the creativity involved and being able to work on content that helps people feel more confident about themselves. Inclusivity is really important to me and I try my best to keep that in my mind whenever I set out to write something.
Do you think everyone could benefit from working in the corporate world at some point in their lives?
No not everyone, but it can help. The more experiences you have, the more you can see what you like in a job as well as what you don’t. Having worked in different companies within different sectors, I was able to see how different businesses operate and stay afloat. With journalism, there are both creative and commercial objectives to bear in mind and so this can be pretty useful.
Which women have inspired you?
I’d first of all say Susannah Taylor, our Editor-at-large and co-founder. She’s been a real mentor to me and a shining example of how to be a boss that gets the most out of her team – she’s motivating and positive and that does a lot for creating a productive work environment. I’d also say that Anita Bhagwandas, who’s the Beauty Director at Stylist, is a big inspiration. She’s an incredible writer who strikes the really hard balance between being authoritative and relatable.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 -10 years?
Ooo, that’s tricky, but I’d say still writing but at a more senior role and hopefully managing my own team.
You’re very funny in your articles, how difficult is it to capture your audience?
Thanks! That’s really kind. It’s hard to incorporate your own sense of humour while still making sure to adhere to the style of the publication you’re writing for. You try to put the feelers out with a pun here and a one-liner there (in my case!) and see how they’re received. If well, then great, but a lot of it is trial and error and just trying to be yourself as much as possible.
What would be your top 3 beauty tips?
- Always take your makeup off before bed.
- No beauty product can act as a substitute for an unhealthy lifestyle.
- Surround yourself with people that make you feel good and who give you helpful advice, not brutal criticism.