After Award-Winning Career in Beauty Industry, Alumna Finds New Path in Consulting

After an almost ten-year career as a makeup artist and stylist, alumna Yasmeen Ibrahim ‘18 began to feel a shift in the beauty industry and within herself. She decided to return to school, first attending community college and then transferring to the School of General Studies, where she thrived. Now, as an analyst for Accenture, Ibrahim reflects on her academic and career path thus far.

February 12, 2020

Yasmeen Ibrahim was born in Cairo, Egypt and moved to the United States when she was ten years old. Upon entering high school in Virginia, Ibrahim found herself growing disinterested in her studies. A self-described tomboy, she shocked her family and friends when she decided to take a part-time job at a department store beauty counter, setting her sights on becoming a makeup artist. 

“I couldn't help how excited being at department store makeup counters made me. All of the different colors, textures, and transformations that could be created were mind blowing. I wanted to be the wizard who could make it all happen,” said Ibrahim. 

Yasmeen Ibrahim and her CNN team winning an Emmy for their work during 2012 election coverage

Originally, she had taken the job because of the competitive pay and the opportunity to pursue her interest in makeup, but never imagined the highlights that would follow.

She began her own freelance business as a makeup artist, hair stylist, and wardrobe stylist, working with clients such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Padma Lakshmi, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Tony Bennett, Bill Gates, and other influential figures. During the 2012 presidential election, Ibrahim was a part of a team of industry professionals that won an Emmy for their work during the televised coverage of the election.

My GS family provided the perfect level of support—having a shoulder to lean on while maintaining the autonomy to discover, fail, grow, and repeat.

Yasmeen Ibrahim '18

After almost ten years working as a makeup artist, she began to look ahead at her long-term goals and decided to give academia another try. Aside from the fear of being left behind in a changing industry, Ibrahim found that the conversations she had while working with clients about politics, economics, biology, mental health, and religion were truly the most enjoyable part of her work.

“I started to realize that the makeup industry was changing, and I didn't necessarily want to change with it. The world of YouTube makeup artists was at its peak, and I found myself feeling left out of conversations about the newest lip gloss or lipstick,” said Ibrahim. “More importantly, I noticed that I was falling out of love with the very aspect of makeup that drew me to it in the first place—the glamour and color were no longer satisfying.”  

Ibrahim enrolled at Northern Virginia Community College and excelled in academics and extracurricular activities, including serving as president of the Non-Traditional Students Organization. She credited her time as a makeup artist and stylist, working with such brilliant minds, as the catalyst for her intellectual curiosity. With her success in community college, Ibrahim was encouraged to apply to GS by a friend who was enrolled at the School.

I now honorably carry around this nontraditional, international, and authentic GS experience, which has prepared me to feel bold enough to confidently share my thoughts at any senior leadership meeting, industry conference, or networking event in my new business consulting role.

Yasmeen Ibrahim '18

"My first year at GS felt like being in a whole new world. I was making friends who were just as lost as I was, but within a couple of semesters we were able to figure it out together," she said. "My GS family provided the perfect level of support—having a shoulder to lean on while maintaining the autonomy to discover, fail, grow, and repeat." 

During her time at GS, Ibrahim worked as a resident advisor with GS Student Life and as a research assistant at Columbia Business School. She was appointed Chief of Campus Life by the General Studies Student Council and was inducted into the GS Honor Society. She also received several scholarships and awards during her time as an undergraduate, including the Olga Knoepke Scholarship Award along with two GS Leadership and Service Awards.

GS alumna Yasmeen Ibrahim at a General Studies Student Council Ramadan event

Ibrahim believes that her exposure to advisors, peers, and professors from all over the world while at Columbia contributed to her expanded perspective, a goal which she had set for herself when she decided to pursue a path outside of the beauty industry. 

“Punctuality, discipline, optimism, empathy, and courage were an essential part of being a successful high-profile artist, and I truly believe that it was these very same skills that allowed me to thrive in an Ivy League setting,” said Ibrahim. 

Ibrahim graduated magna cum laude and was selected to co-lead the 2019 GS Class Day procession as Head Senior Marshall. After graduation, she returned to Northern Virginia, where she began working as a management consulting analyst with Accenture. She feels that her time at GS prepared her to meet the challenges she faces in her new career. 

“I now honorably carry around this nontraditional, international, and authentic GS experience, which has prepared me to feel bold enough to confidently share my thoughts at any senior leadership meeting, industry conference, or networking event in my new business consulting role,” said Ibrahim.