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UAE event to help confused teen career-starters.

What do you want to be when you grow up?" The last time I knew the answer was when I was nine years old and stuck on sleuth fiction.

"A detective," I'd say with absolute resolve.

Little did I know that my dream job meant years of training in criminology, sociology, psychology, forensic science, law enforcement or similar.

At 16, being expected to figure out what you want to do for the next 50-something years doesn't just feel daunting - it seems downright unreasonable. But help is now at hand for UAE teens thanks to TeenPOWERment Day, an event designed to help confused career-starters across the UAE match their interests, skills and values with potential jobs.

Family and relationship coach Maria V Chatila, the brains behind YouTube show Teens Talk, said the concept was driven by the fact that four out of five school students she spoke to told her they didn't know what career they wanted to pursue.

The careers fair aims to show teens they do have options and to encourage them to build a plan for the future. Speakers from industries ranging from music to medicine, along with university advisers, academic consultants and teen entrepreneurs, will share their experiences with children aged 13 to 18. The day will also offer opportunities to gain work experience, enrol in internships and join a teen mentor programme.

It's even being managed by teens themselves, and will enforce a 'strictly no parents' rule.

Chitral told 7DAYS: "If parents came along, the teens would just be tagging along. But we want teens to take ownership in the opportunities that lie ahead of them. Independence is expected of them at school, so an event this empowering should not be any less supportive of the belief that teens are ready to ask all the right questions."

The TeenPOWERment champion added that she also wants students to be able to step away from the issue of 'My parents want me to become a…'

"Most teens just want to know what job they can do that they will want to do for the rest of their life, and what career they can do that will help them earn enough money," she said.

Hearing about someone's job will likely spark curiosity while providing a realistic view and allow teens to weigh their options. And learners will also be able to find out what skills can pay bills, as industry experts reveal which jobs are in demand, the coach explained.

"TeenPOWERment Day might just be the difference between making a choice with confidence or struggling along with uncertainty," Chatila said.

"It's a day for them to ask, ask, ask and ask again… because the 'always in demand' life skill that we are helping teens to acquire is 'grab your future by the hand and explore!'" After all, what all teens truly want to be when they grow up is happy.

How to get involved

What: TeenPOWERment Day

When: Friday, November 15 from 2pm to 6pm

Where: International Horizon College, U-Bora Tower, Business Bay, Dubai

Tickets cost Dhs25. For details, visit or contact

Related links

Job gloom as UAE graduates say they are struggling to find work

Emirati graduates still struggling to find work in private firms, expert reveals

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 10, 2013
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