The Twin Towns Savvy Teen Academy

 What is it?

This is a 5 day event for teenagers aged between 16 and 18. It focuses on Careers, Communication and Confidence. Each day sees a theme and a number of activities and workshops for the teenagers. The theme on Monday is Building Confidence. We will explain some key tips and techniques in overcoming shyness and becoming more active in group and social situations. We have no desire to transform you into an arrogant type of confident – just an assertive type where you feel enabled and empowered to make new friends, to speak up when you wish to contribute and to disagree in such a way that you do not come across as troublesome or pushy. We will do an activity on speaking in front of others as this is a key lifeskill and something that almost everyone faces at some stage of their life.

On Tuesday, the theme is Communication – and particularly as part of a team. Maybe you prefer working on projects by yourself? We know lots of people who have this skill down to a fine art due to having been on sports teams; however, there are also some people who have not been on a team and feel a little uncomfortable in communicating with and being part of a team. The reality is though, that as you make your way through life, you will need to work with other people to get things done, from college projects to getting home after a night out!  Regardless of what career you choose, you will be expected to work with others and later, when you become more senior, you will be expected to lead and motivate others so the more comfortable you are communicating and working as part of a team, the better.

Wednesday will be a day to focus on the theme of Careers and Carving out your own path. This will be a highly practical day where we will look at some excellent tips and techniques for study skills. It’s such an important time of your life when you are making pretty big decisions that will impact your career so we feel that a workshop on the CAO system will be a good use of our time. We will talk through the various careers that interest you right now and help you to speak openly about what you would like to do after school. We see many cases of adults being unfulfilled in their work and feeling ‘ trapped’ in a job they do not like. We know this leads to all kinds of difficulties and health challenges. We want to try to prevent this situation from happening to you and to enable you to make the absolute best of your capabilities, talents and opportunities. As employers, Susan and I often get CVs from teenagers and young adults. We know what employers look for even for summer jobs so we are going to help you write your first CV and cover letter so that you have it to hand when you want to use it.

Money and Budgeting is the theme for Thursday. Money is most likely already featuring as pretty important in your life. It will become an even bigger issue as you become more responsible for your own earnings and management of money. Having knowledge and some skills in this area is fundamental to enjoying life day to day so that you can have the best of experiences while also keeping one eye on the future. Susan Hayes Culleton has written no less than 3 books on this topic and is an experienced economist who will take you through some tried and tested ways to manage your money. We will have a session on Entrepreneurship and what it takes to get your own business off the ground.

Finally, the theme for Friday is Looking after yourself. This is something we say to others “look after yourself’  – but what does that mean? How can you as a teenager look after yourself? Well, we are both members of the anti-cyberbullying summit for Ireland and we will share some ideas on how to stay safe while online and protect your ‘Digital Reputation’. We will also have a panel of experts on the topics of Alcohol, Drugs and Sexual Health  who will answer any questions that you might have on those areas.

The course will include guest speakers from the local Donegal area who will inspire and energise the teenagers. Previous courses have seen Terry Clune (Entrepreneur of the Year 2009, Ger Brennan (Dublin All Ireland football Winner) and Fionnbarr Walsh (Dad of late 16 year old Donal Walsh from Kerry).

See:  for more information and to book a place.

Who is behind it?Monica Murphy and Susan Hayes Culleton. Monica is from Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim, and Susan is from Dripsey in Co. Cork. They both own their own separate training businesses and were often struck at the lack of engagement from employees who they might be contracted to train. At the heart of this, is the fact that many people are not passionate about what they do and are working to pay bills. We want to avoid this in the future and ensure that young people do not sacrifice their long term dreams for short term gains. We are both  successful business role models and have built up our own businesses in the last 5 years. The Savvy Teen Academy has been run 3 times successfully in Dublin and we now want to take it to other parts of the country.