And it was through interviewing Anna for her university magazine that Ayan was encouraged to apply in the first place!
“I never thought I’d get a work experience like this,” she said. “Part of me felt nervous going into the newsroom, but then I actually felt quite sophisticated too! They were all so welcoming, so friendly and made us both feel as if our views and ideas mattered.”
All too often time constraints can end with work placements not proving as valuable an experience as they could, and should, be.
But in this case, the duo’s time was used positively and in a productive manner, learning research techniques, preparing questions, attending press briefings, interviewing – and writing.
“Initially I was researching facts or people, but was encouraged to develop my own ideas, which I did,” said Amarachi. “To see an interview that I did with sports lecturer Jessica Pinchbeck in print, with my name there in black and white, was such an incredible feeling. I hadn’t had anything like that before, so my Mum went out and bought a few copies for family members – and so did I!”
Ayan’s interview with Arsenal star Leah Williamson is one she won’t forget either, as she explains. “It was at really short notice and I hadn’t really had a chance to prepare for it,” she said. “I was really out of my comfort zone but Leah was so nice and helpful and answered all my questions.
“My first byline was a piece about Saudi women boxing, but then after my placement had finished, I sent an idea to Anna and had an article published about Nike’s launch of their modest swimwear range. I wrote a comment piece on that as I’m a Muslim woman, and someone who understands the conflict between trying to be modest but also doing what everyone else does, swimming when you are at the beach.”
Both Amarachi and Ayan are quite clear on where they want their career path to go and both are thankful to the opportunity that arose out of the Telegraph’s #WhatIf pledge.
“I always wanted to work on big paper like the Telegraph or Guardian,” said Ayan, who hopes to undertake a Masters in International Journalism next year.
“I’m so grateful for the experience, and also for making contact with some of the girls on the team like Fiona Thomas and Verity Bowman, they were really helpful. And of course, to have Amarachi there was great.”
Amarachi added, “It’s so important that women work in this industry, and in print journalism too.
“Women see things within sport that men might not see and are able to bring different perspectives to stories and how they develop and are written.
“I’m so glad to have had a taste already of being able to do this thanks to Telegraph and Women in Football because I know this is the career that I want to pursue.”