Fortune Favours the Bold

Mario Guraieb Mantecon discusses his decision to take a risk by raising his hand to ask the Virgin Radio team for an internship and why more young people should put themselves out there as well.

Two years ago, while Kris Fade and the Virgin Radio team visited GEMS United School, Sports City (GUS) as part of their ’20 Schools in 20 Days’ campaign a Grade 12 student asked if they offered internships she could apply to. Kris told her that the world is for go-getters.

When Grade 11 student Mario Guraieb Mantecon heard the team was returning to his school last year, he decided to approach them for an internship. “I’ve always had the mentality that if I want something, I have to go get it,” says Mario.

He put together a resume and got some references from different people including teachers and others he knew from outside of school. He included community service and mentioned the sneaker business he used to run.

“On the day of Virgin Radio’s visit, during the Q&A session, I just held up my CV and said, ‘I’d like to give this to you for the chance of an internship.’ They brought me up on stage, asked me some questions and then offered me a week’s internship,” says Mario.

Every morning during the first week of November he was at the station from 6am to 8.30am and thereafter they decided to keep him on, and he currently goes every Monday morning.

Mario credits the experience with teaching him discipline. “I have to wake up at 5am to come to the studio and then go to school afterwards. I have to balance what I do on the job — they ask me to do a lot of different things, which is more demanding than just going to school.”

Although the tasks given to him vary, the key takeaway for Mario is how different working in the real world is to attending school, adding that when unexpected things happen at work, they have to be handled immediately. “If a microphone stops working, I must fetch another and everyone in the team is rushed to get everything working again quickly, whereas in school you don’t have that same pressure. I have made mistakes on the job and from the reaction I received I learned not to make them again; I can’t just say, ‘Sorry I didn’t do this on time’,” he says.

In terms of being offered the internship, Mario maintains that he doubted the contents of his CV had any bearing on the decision to bring him on — he is certain there are other students who could have put together a more impressive resume with more accomplishments — but what set him apart was that he had the guts to chase his dream and go for it. He adds that work experience opportunities such as internships aren’t readily available to students here in the UAE and he is aware of the difference when he goes on international summer camps or when he travels.

“I see the work students are doing; they’re already getting hands-on experience. I feel like there’s a big gap between students in the UAE and the rest of the world in the sense that we’re not getting the same realistic experience of what life really is like,” Mario adds.

He feels this lack of real-world practise colours the way students plan their future in that they get as far as planning to go to go to university and then ‘see what they’ll do.’ The internship has made him realise that there is so much more to planning the future.

“I feel like no one really chases what they want. I always hear people say they want to start a blog, or create a YouTube channel, and I have realised that in life you have to chase your passions outside of school; it’s about taking the initiative to do something. Anyone else could have walked into that assembly with a resume, but they didn’t. I was the only one. What separates people is doing versus just thinking about doing. It all comes down initiative,” Mario says.

Looking ahead he doesn’t know exactly what he wants to study, but he knows he wants to make a long-lasting ecological impact on the world. “I believe we are going down a consumption spiral that is unsustainable, so I definitely want to focus on that. I think the best career to suit those needs would be business management, international relations or data analysis, while still sticking to my roots of tech, mathematics and writing skills. I want to look back in 20 years and see how my time on earth was spent doing something which, even once I’m gone, will have a lasting effect on people. I want to impact more than just my generation,” he adds.

Currently his dream university is IE in Spain, but he is also considering his options in the UK, Europe and Canada.