July 30, 2018

Ashley Hefnawy, Tech Writer

Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a 27-year-old Egyptian American writer working and living in New York. I work as a freelance copywriter, specializing in product, marketing, and web copy, and when I’m not doing that, I write creative works of fiction and journalism. I enjoy my work and take a lot of joy from helping people communicate efficiently. The world of tech piques my interest because I love working with brands and products that are new to the market, innovating the way people live. In the last year, I’ve had some experience working as a mentor for people who need help articulating themselves — whether in emails, proposals, or panel discussions. That’s been really rewarding work, as it requires me to take a step back and reflect on what I’ve learned and applied in my work.
Whats your typical day like?
I don’t have a typical day. As a freelancer, my schedule changes from day to day, but I like to start each morning with a healthy breakfast, meditation/prayer, exercise (running, yoga, lifting, HIIT, or some kind of sport), and then ease my way into whatever my workload is for that day. I love finding cafes or libraries to work from around my neighborhood. Whenever I have lighter workloads, I schedule time for myself to work on creative writing. Sometimes that means I look through notes in my iPhone to spark a new idea for a story, other times it means I sit and journal for as long as I can until I get tired. It’s all about getting words on the page.
What led you to tech?
I have always been fascinated by anything that is considered new and innovative. I think the advancement of technology is something exciting, and I like to keep myself up to date with the evolution of technology. When it came to deciding about the type of work I’d focus on, it happened organically. After working at Shutterstock and finding creative ways to market creative tech that I had never worked with (stock media), I realized this field was a great way for me to engage both my creative and communication oriented mind, at the same time. It occurred to me that innovation is to technology as creativity is to language, and that made my work even more exciting.
What is your experience being a POC in Tech?
I think the best part of being a person of color in this industry, is finding other POC to learn from. A lot of what I learned about copywriting, design, creativity, and innovation, came to me from women, particularly women of color, who had been in the industry longer than me, who were down to share their knowledge. I am so grateful to the writers and creatives I’ve encountered over the course of my career who helped shape the way I thought of my work, thought of myself, and helped me understand my craft. I’m grateful today to be working with clients who care about the work they’re doing and care about the work that they come to me for. To me, that is when the magic happens in any field, but especially in this one.
What advice would you give to a young person who wanted to enter tech?
I love working with younger folks who are looking to get into tech. I think anyone who wants to enter this industry should get coffee with as many people as possible — this is something I continue to practice. I regularly try to get coffee (or tea) with creatives I admire and respect, just to pick their brains, talk about what I’m working on, and practice manifesting certain ideas that I want to actualize. Inspiring conversation can make a difference. Sometimes I think of conversations with people in the same way that I think of journaling — it can’t hurt to talk about anything that’s on your mind, especially if it gives way to new ideas that create different opportunities.
Where can we find you + anything you want to plug?
Feel free to connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn. My work is almost up to date on my website with the exception of my most recently published work of fiction, which can be found here.
Michael Berhane

Co-founder and CEO of peopleofcolorintech.com & pocitjobs.com. Also the co-host of the #Techish podcast! Full Stack JavaScript developer by trade.

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