Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has urged young people to "go for it" as he took part in a student careers advice meeting ahead of the launch of the Government's social mobility strategy.
Mr Clegg joined representatives from the media, engineering and legal professions at the event at ARK Globe Academy in Southwark, south London. Among those talking to pupils about how they established their careers was Jay Hunt, Channel 4's chief creative officer.
A central aim of the new social mobility strategy is making internships available to disadvantaged youngsters.
Addressing students at the start of the session, Mr Clegg advised them to retain a sense of self-belief and not to be afraid to follow their dreams, though he admitted he did not have a future career plan or map in his head as a teenager.
He said: "It is incredibly crucial that you believe in yourselves. You have as much of a right to dream of doing the very top jobs in the areas you care about as anybody else. There are far too many professions in this country where there is a hidden assumption that if you come from a particular area or particular school or family, you will do a particular thing in later life."
He added: "What we can do is try to remove any of the barriers and bottlenecks which at the moment are making it difficult for some people to get those internships and work experience opportunities. It should not be who you know that is important, but what you know and what you dream."
Pupils were split into six groups to discuss career options in turn with representatives from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Allen & Overy, The Royal Institute of British Architects, Channel 4, The Royal Academy of Engineering and Mr Clegg, on behalf of the Government.
Mr Clegg chatted animatedly to students about their school, local area and subject options.
Speaking after the event, he said the issue of social mobility was a "deep seated problem" but "bit by bit" the new measures outlined in the strategy would make a difference.
He said: "I don't think it's a question of taking one group and giving them advantages that don't help others. I actually think it helps all of us if we live in a fairer society where people can get ahead if they work hard and live out their dreams."