What is life like for teenagers on the other side of the world?
It's a big world out there. How do teenagers feel about it? Excited? Eager to discover it? Or overwhelmed? Slightly uneasy about all those unfamiliar places? Perhaps a mix of both...
For many teenagers who attend #SavvyTeenAcademy, the world out there looms large. Some would love to go out discovering, would love to travel - but immediately dismiss their idea as a pipe dream. Sure, doesn't travelling cost a lot of money? They are certain they'll never have that kind of money. Others are worried that they will be competing for jobs with people from all over the world, or that they will have to emigrate far away from friends and family if they want to have a successful career.
There are many fears and misconceptions, and at #SavvyTeenAcademy you will be able to air them, look at them for what they are, and you will learn to have more confidence, both in yourself and in your dreams - whether that's travelling the world or finding a fulfilling career close to your loved ones. You will also be able to talk to Susan and Monica, the co-founders of #SavvyTeenAcademy: both of them are entrepreneurs with a wealth of international experience. This experience shapes their outlook and the way they lead #SavvyTeenAcademy.
And believe it or not, both your enthusiasm and your anxiety about the future are shared by many young people around the world.
Susan was recently on a business trip to Hong Kong and Macau, and there, she talked Careers, Communication and Confidence with students. Some of them are in secondary school and working hard at improving their English as the key to the career they dream of; others are in college and mapping out the opportunities awaiting them when they leave higher education. So what is student life like, halfway across the world?
Will I get a good job?
Susan talked to students in Media Studies at City University in Hong Kong. She shared some key nuggets from her own knowledge and experience with them. Many of them face the very same concerns as Irish teenagers: will I get a good job? How do I compete against more experienced people? How do I know how to answer sticky questions in an interview?
One of the workshops at #SavvyTeenAcademy is about uncovering your unique strengths and skills, and knowing how to write your CV and cover letter around them. Crafting a compelling CV and cover letter is an essential career skill; interestingly, by learning this skill you will also learn more about yourself. It's a full exercise in personal development: instead of stressing out about how you will be perceived, you can focus on letting your personality shine through.
Looking confident and preparing for academic interviews
Susan went on to talk about public speaking in the context of academic interviews to a group of secondary school boys in Kowloon. In particular, she focused on how to be conscious and take control of your body language, how to handle small talk well and how to navigate the conversation back into your comfort zone when you are faced with questions that you don't have an answer to.
Knowing what your body language communicates to your audience, and being able to shape that body language to your advantage, is another skill that we focus on at #SavvyTeenAcademy. Crucially, recent research has shown that acting confident actually makes you confident at a very elemental level: by controlling your body language, you will feel true confidence in any setting.
International opportunities in Europe
Emigration has long been a fact of life for many Irish people. But today the plane goes both ways: Ireland is a very attractive international destination, and the worldwide opportunities you are looking for might simply be waiting for you, here at home.
Susan went to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to speak to young people who were taking an international business degree based in Hong Kong, California and Italy. She spoke about the breadth of opportunity that Europe offers in terms of studying, interning, employment, cultural diversity and adventure!
If you are interested in international opportunities, you can plan your studies around them, for example by choosing a curriculum that includes time abroad, either working or studying at a university in a foreign country.
Another thing to remember is that Europe is an attractive destination, too - and Ireland, as one of the main English-speaking countries in the EU and the target of a lot of foreign investing, is an ideal partner. By virtue of having grown up in Ireland or living in it right now, you as an Irish student have an amazing asset.
Sometimes we don't realise that we have something that's extremely valuable to other people. Your profile can be interesting to international companies because these companies are interested in Europe and need people who know the cultural codes of Europe.
What does the future hold?
Before leaving for Macau, Susan met a group of students studying journalism and wondering, not just about the future of their industry, but about its present. With the rise of free content on the Internet, and the decline in ad revenues, many newspapers and news outlets are struggling. Students who choose to study journalism and feel passionate about it can also be worried that there will be no job for them.
The best insurance against worrying is to take matters into your own hands and to manage your own personal brand. Yes, in many industries today 'business as usual' is disrupted by new technologies and new business models. However, Susan focuses on what each of us can do to navigate the unknown. There are practical steps we can take to increase our chances of success.
Students who come to #SavvyTeenAcademy get all the benefit of this worldwide experience and the connection with people who share their passions and problems in different corners of the world.