Many of the world’s most reputable companies offer internships to students, though many students never take these opportunities. While some take up volunteer positions, these are less formal than internships, which aim to put students in the real-world work environment so they can see if a certain type of employment is right for them.
Internships typically last for between one week and three months, and in many cases lead directly to employment. At the least, they provide valuable knowledge of work situations and make an impressive entry to your CV, which employers value greatly.
Management Insider is presenting four insights into the benefits of taking an internship: from those who have successfully completed an
internship to those who offer the programmes and encourage students to take part.
Hok Sivmey is a 22-year-old working as a personal assistant at an international logistics firm in Phnom Penh. Just a few years ago, she was a student at the Royal University of Law and Economics, where a professor taught her the benefits of internships. After searching for internships that suited her studies, through international organisations such as AIESEC and JCI, Sivmey took up two: in the US as a legislative intern, and in Egypt as an English teacher. “I chose to go to foreign countries because it is a new and different world where people act and think differently, meaning you learn to be independent and survive,” she said. This different world took Sivmey out of her comfort zone and helped her mature as a person. She said there are three clear ben- efits taken from her decision to go abroad: a boost in her self-confidence, a global network of contacts, and powerful additions to her CV.
Chham Chha Virak, 26, graduated from SETEC University with a degree in Manage- ment Information Systems. His university required him to take an internship, which he did with an IT solutions company in Phnom Penh, and at the end of the three- month internship, he was offered a job at the same company. “The internship helped me adapt to the real working environment and understand the theories better than when I learned them at university,” he said. Virak said that internship opportunities can be found easily through company websites and Facebook profiles and are the best form of self-branding to impress employers.
Yang Navuth is the head of human resources at Cambodian telecommunications giant Smart Axiata, which has about 200 Cambodian interns in a number of departments across the country. While Smart’s extensive investment in in- terns is part of its corporate social responsibility programme, the company also invests so much in it because it is the best way to build candidate’s skills and eventually offer them full time jobs. “Smart aims to prepare the talent pool and equip interns with our core values to get them ready to take a permanent job opportunity in Smart itself,” he said. Navuth thinks that internships are a great way for students to experience different work environments and decide if that really is the career path they want to take. He acknowledge that there are many barriers to students taking on internships – time constraints, no salary, family pressure – but that those are worth overcoming to uncover your full potential.
Andre Struve moved to Cambodia from his home country of Germany in 2008. Now, he is the director of CIA First International School in Phnom Penh and regularly adver- tises internships for students aspiring to a career in education. Besides teaching, CIA First has also taken interns in the departments of IT, accounting and administration. Struve thinks that all students should be required to complete an internship before graduating from university. “Internships are so valuable to career development because they help students choose what is right for them. It teaches them to face new challenges rather than just spending time in class memorising theory,” he said. CIA First posts its intern opportunities on its website and Facebook page, through reputable universities and Struve’s own social network.
Text by Visal Roathtepi | Photographs by Cedrick Ragel