“An insightful and inspiring day”

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Caitlin McShane, from Southend High School for Girls, reviews the March Rocking Ur Teens event.

On Tuesday 12 March, following International Women’s Day celebrations, twelve Year 9 attended the Rocking Ur Teens girls’ conference, which took place at the NatWest offices, Bishopsgate. Rocking Ur Teens is a social enterprise whose goal is to give young people the skills, confidence and ideas needed for their futures.

Stepping through the revolving doors perfectly welcomed us to the corporate world that the rest of the day would begin to ease us into. It seemed almost surreal at first to be given lanyards – something only workers are frequently seen with. The vibrant presenter Remel London (Capital Extra, Sky One and a live events host) somehow managed to make approximately 200 Year 9 girls, who had travelled from all over the south of England, feel energetic.

The speakers who followed came from a vast variety of backgrounds and jobs; each of them sharing their unique experiences from the working world. Sherah Beckley, a sustainability and corporate responsibility specialist, spoke about how she went from a sixth form student to working with members of the UN. Her message was about re-inventing yourself – telling us that life is not a single pathway and that the only blockade to success is our self.

Next came Jillian ‘JJ’ Simmons from Houston, U.S.A., a radio and TV host, speaker and author. She taught us about self-empowerment, the power of words and the social empowerment among our friends. After ‘JJ’ was Nick Howe, a businessman working for NatWest, whose told us about entrepreneurship and his speciality in supporting small to medium enterprises. We learnt how to push ourselves forwards towards what we want, and about the appeal of working for yourself and the best ways to do so.

A corporate panel formed of employees from some of NatWest’s numerous partners (e.g. Hermes, Sage, Coca Cola) followed. This was one of the most informative talks as we were able to discuss almost on a one-to-one basis with a speaker. We spoke to a lady who represented women and ethnic diversity in new businesses and we learnt how to prepare for our futures as well as receiving wisdom about job interviews – something that we have never really discussed before.

After lunch Jillian Kowalchuk talked to us about Artificial Intelligence and how it would affect the future. She had great experience in the field having created an award-winning app, Safe and the City, and it was impressive to hear her story as CEO of the company that developed it.

The Armed Forces then showcased their diversity. This section was presented by three women from the Navy, Air Force, and Army. They showed us how leadership isn’t just one person in control but really just organised methods of teamwork.

The day came to a close with a vocal performance by Sherika Sherard, a busker turned music star. Her story was particularly inspiring as it showcased how your world can be turned around provided you remain passionate at what you’re doing.

All in all, it was an insightful and empowering day.

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