September 1, 2022

My internship experience in Cambodia – Ratana Boy

It’s not about how many things you have done in the past, but what you are currently doing and for what the future will entail. 

On May 13th, I stepped out of Lexus RX300 onto what I have been waiting for, HOME! To my consciousness, many things have changed since the last time I was here. Roads were paved, bigger and stretched longer. However, one thing is still the same, Cambodia needs more improvement than this. I told myself, there are a lot of things I want to improve about Cambodia. This was the reason why I am here. Apart from visiting home, I had to find an internship for my CBLI course. Of course, I thought of it as a credit, as an obligation. 

But this obligation, as I soon realised, has changed into my ambition, my purpose, and my true passion.

It took me nearly a month to finally settle on an internship. On a hot, summer Friday afternoon of June, while I was enjoying my ice latte on the traditional Cambodian knitted hammock, my phone rang. The name was familiar and I suddenly picked it up. As soon as I heard that I was called for an interview, I was so happy yet, mixed with feelings of doubt. I asked myself, will this be another rejection?

And yes, I did jinx myself. On the ride to the interview, I was angrily greeted by an insane woman, which was a bad spirit that haunted me until I got to the association. I maintained positivity and told myself I will not fail this interview. As soon as I got in, I felt the warmth, the respect and I felt at home once again. The staffs’ smiles made all the worries and past evil spirits go away. Let’s end the bad spirit here! I made it this time. I passed the interview.

People usually said that all interns do are backend tasks that will never make sense of making an impact after all that hard work. This is definitely not true for me as a Social Enterprise Development intern at Human and Hope Association, Siem Reap, Cambodia. From creating the page to designing the logo, brochure, flyer and product catalogue for Hope Sewing Enterprise (social enterprise), my job will never be repetitive and boring for me. In one month and a half, I have already left footprints on the social media platform of Hope Sewing Enterprise and meeting real, potential clients interested in the mission and vision of Hope Sewing Enterprise. Plus, it drives hard into my heart and makes me want to achieve more things for the support of communities in Cambodia. This will be my first step into understanding myself and what I wanted to do for the future rural communities that need support from us.

I have to admit, I have had experiences with content writing and in charge of the social media page, but this is a new experience for me. As for this internship, I have to express content in Khmer ( which I have less confidence in) and it has to draw people’s attention into the purpose of Hope Sewing Enterprise. Of course, this is what marketing is like. I am glad to receive guidance and tips from my supervisor, and I have learned from him to put myself as a reader, a viewer in order to produce intriguing content that people are interested in. 

Working in an environment where I see myself as the youngest and perhaps less experienced, I admit I sometimes feel anxious and scared to speak my mind out. But this is also what makes the whole experience exciting, because I have to learn to let go of that mindset. It will just slow down my progression and my desire to do more. I learned the essence of teamwork and deeply felt everyone’s passion to grow with each other in improving the association. Everyone is constantly learning, improving and contributing in every way possible to empower the communities, and that is what I have been looking for. 

Furthermore, there were many things from SGS courses that have also helped me in this internship. I was able to apply what I had learned from the project management course, marketing, accounting and finance class into this internship. I was glad these courses were able to help me in some ways in applying the principles into working as part of a team efficiently. Some of the lessons learnt aligned with the tasks I have to complete and I am confident in executing the tasks.

Last, but not least, I am thankful for my supervisor and the colleagues that made me enjoy this internship, both my work and my personal life. They have put in the trust into accepting me and I learned that I have developed personally and professionally. I am looking forward to continuing my internship at the association again in January and continue to support and be a part of the upcoming community development projects.

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