On Thursday 12th March I had the pleasure of attending a Teen Empowerment Conference at Thomson Reuters in Canary Wharf which I had been invited to speak at by the Rocking Ur Teens company as an #iwill Ambassador along with other young girls and women. This conference was the first event held by the company and it was an amazing opportunity for 13-14 year old school girls to learn about opportunities available to them, meet girls from different walks of life and to be challenged to make a difference and realise their own power.
The day started off with a welcome from the quirky young presenter Remel London and a Keynote Speaker session. This session included speeches from Emma Barnett, the Women’s Editor of the Telegraph, Yasmin Ali, Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2013, and Grace and Amelia Mandeville (The Mandeville Sisters), Presenters and two of my favourite YouTube Vloggers whom I was lucky enough to get to sit next to for most of the day! These women shared how they became successful and how they approached opportunities in their careers. Hearing how they got to where they are now was encouraging and inspiring to me and hopefully to the other girls too.
After this, the students had time to learn more about leadership, entrepreneurship, jobs and making good choices, through workshops in different rooms. While this was going on I was still in the main hall with the other speakers trying to gather the courage to speak to The Mandeville Sisters, that is until my mum took action and introduced me to them for me (thanks mum). A little off topic but that just made the whole event even better! I also had the chance to speak to Remel London about her career and it was incredible to hear how much she has achieved such as graduating with a BA Degree in Broadcast Journalism, becoming a presenter and interviewing celebrities, actors and music acts, including Jessie J, at just 25 years old!
We then had lunch before hearing from graduates, interns and school leavers about corporate life and their involvement. It was helpful to learn how these women chose their courses and how they started life after education. We also heard from Marsha Powell, founder of BelEve UK, and she gave everyone steps to making good choices for future success. Marsha’s speech got everyone thinking about choices and how we make them and everyone learnt the same thing from her speech, make decisions for yourself and make choice that make you happy.
The last set of speeches for the day was by #iwill Ambassadors (myself and two other young women), we were there to represent the Step Up To Serve charity and to talk about our social action journeys and how we have made a difference through volunteering. This was my first ever public speech and to be completely honest, I was so nervous that I don’t even remember what I said! I just spoke about my role as a mentor and how that has opened so many opportunities for me that I would not get any other way. Through volunteering as a mentor, I’ve become a proud ambassador for a national charity, I’ve spoken at an important event and I have spoken to Prince Charles! I believe that my social action journey proves that even the smallest action can make an enormous difference in a community and even in your own life.
At the end of the conference we had a special musical performance from Tendai and then it was over. Before I left I got to speak to the founder and co-founders of Rocking Ur Teens and they offered me more opportunities! One of the co-founders, Jenny Garret, suggested that at the next conference I could have my own workshop to present and Jenny also said it is likely that Nonsuch will be invited to attend next year’s event!
Being at this conference and speaking has taught me so much about myself and how I can make my future better as well as helping others. I’ve realised that every opportunity is important, if you want something and you have the chance to get it, take that chance because it could be the only one. I have also learnt that every mistake counts. I know the women who spoke to us did not become so successful easily and they must have been turned down or disappointed many times before they found the opportunity for them and it’s the same for everyone and it’s so important to embrace mistakes and to learn from them, especially in your teenage years.